Sneezing in cats

Black cat on white background

Overview

Cats sneeze for the same reasons we do – because something has irritated the inside of their nose. The odd sneeze is often nothing to worry about. However, if your cat is sneezing regularly or showing any other signs of not being well, you need to take them to the vet.

Causes of sneezing in cats

So why do cats sneeze? The most common causes of sneezing are listed below:

Cat flu

Cat flu is a condition that causes sneezing, a runny nose and weepy eyes and can occasionally be fatal. Have your cat vaccinated by your vet to prevent cat flu.

Infections

Mycoplasma or Bordetella bacterial infection, which usually cause sneezing, very smelly snot or snot containing blood.

Fungal infections

Fungal infections are very rare but can form in the nose and cause sneezing. Usually a cat with a fungal infection will have a sticky white nasal discharge.

Irritants

Breathing in something irritating e.g. perfume, dusty cat litter, cigarette smoke.

Dental (tooth) problems

Tooth problems such as a tooth root abscess can cause pus build up in the nose and cause sneezing.

Something in the nose

Something stuck in the nose (e.g. a blade of grass).

Tumours

Tumours inside the nose will often cause a discharge and sneezing.

Inflammation

Chronic rhinitis is long term inflammation of the inside of the nose. It’s can be due to damage to the inside of the nose (i.e. from a cat flu infection).

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for an appointment if your cat is sneezing more than usual and it doesn’t go away within a day or two.

Contact your vet immediately if your cat has severe bouts of sneezing, sneezes blood, seems to be in discomfort or is unwell,

You know your cat best. If you are concerned it’s always best to contact your vet.

Preventing sneezing

The most common cause of sneezing is cat flu. Make sure your cat receives regular vaccinations to prevent it.

If your cat only sneezes occasionally and episodes last less than a day, it’s likely that something is irritating the inside of their nose. Make a note of when the sneezing happens to see if there’s a pattern and try to think about what could be causing it. For example, it could be a certain type of perfume, cleaning products, lit candles or cigarette smoke.

Published: October 2018

PetWise Pet Health Hub – brought to you thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery 

Written by vets and vet nurses

Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst