If your cat keeps sneezing a lot, there are several possible causes. Find out why cats sneeze and when you should worry about your cat sneezing
Cats can sneeze just like humans do, and the occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about – it’s likely that something has just irritated the inside of their nose and the sneezing will resolve on its own. However, if your cat is sneezing a lot (for example, regularly for more than a couple of days) or the sneezing is accompanied by nasal discharge/snot that is thick and either green, brown, yellow or bloody, then you should speak with your vet to find a cause.
Causes of sneezing in cats
- Respiratory infections – bacterial, viral, fungal or parasite infections can affect the airways and cause sneezing. These include the group of viruses that cause cat flu
- Cat flu – a common viral illness in cats that is much like a cold or the flu in humans. Find out more about cat flu and how you can treat it
- Irritants – dust, smoke or any strong-smelling substances in the air (such as perfume) can cause sneezing
- Dental disease – tooth and gum disease can lead to pain or spread infection in the nose. Find out more about cat dental care
- Something stuck in the nose – sudden bouts of sneezing or retching could be caused by an object stuck in the nose or throat (blades of grass are a common cause)
- Growths and tumours – growths inside the nose can cause sneezing accompanied by bloody snot/discharge. Find out more about lumps and bumps on cats
- Allergies – sneezing due to allergies is less common in cats than people but could be a possible cause. Find out more about cats and hayfever
Do cats get colds?
Cats can’t catch human colds, but they can get cat flu which is a similar illness with similar symptoms (for example, sneezing, coughing, runny nose and eyes, drooling, fever, lethargic, loss of appetite). It’s spread by cats coughing and sneezing, and the cats most likely to be worse affected are young kittens, elderly cats and those with weakened immune systems. There is no cure for cat flu, but the symptoms can be treated by your vet and will often get better within one to two weeks. You can also get your cat vaccinated to prevent them from being severely affected by cat flu. Find out more about cat flu.
Why is my cat sneezing blood?
There could be lots of different reasons why your cat is sneezing blood:
- a growth or tumour inside the nose
- something stuck up their nose
- broken skin inside the nose caused by excessive sneezing
If you notice any blood in your cat’s snot, speak to your vet urgently to find out the cause and get it treated.
How can you make a cat sneeze to clear their nose?
If you think your cat might have something stuck up their nose, don’t try removing it yourself or try making them sneeze to remove it, as this could cause more damage. Instead, take them to the vet who will be able to remove it safely.
Is sneezing in cats contagious to humans?
The common causes of sneezing in cats, including cat flu, are not contagious to humans, so there is usually nothing to worry about if a cat sneezes on you. There are some cat illnesses that cause sneezing and can be caught by humans, but these are very rare. If a cat does sneeze on you, particularly an unknown cat, it’s best to wash the area with soap and water, and consult your doctor if you do start to feel unwell.
Could my cat have COVID-19 if they are sneezing?
There is some evidence that cats can catch COVID-19 from an infected human, but it’s extremely rare. If they do catch the virus, sneezing can be a symptom but cats usually have no symptoms or very mild symptoms and recover quickly. The chances of cats spreading COVID-19 are very low, and humans are much more likely to catch it from other humans. If you have COVID-19, you can reduce the risk of giving it to your cat by limiting contact with them as much as possible while you’re sick. If you think your cat might have COVID-19, discuss this with your vet.
What is reverse sneezing?
Reverse sneezing is when a dog rapidly sucks in air though their nose causing a loud snorting noise. It helps them to clear their nostrils of any irritants and is usually completely harmless. Reverse sneezing is not something that cats typically do. Cats are more likely to do a normal sneeze if they have irritants in their nose.