Why Does My Cat Keep Sneezing and Coughing?

As a cat owner, it can be concerning when you notice your feline companion sneezing and coughing frequently. Just like humans, cats can experience respiratory issues that can lead to these symptoms. While occasional sneezing or coughing may not be a cause for alarm, persistent or severe symptoms may indicate an underlying health issue. Here, we will explore some common reasons why your cat may be sneezing and coughing, and when it might be time to seek veterinary care.

1. Allergies: Cats can be allergic to various substances such as pollen, dust, mold, or certain foods. Sneezing and coughing are common signs of allergies in cats.

2. Upper Respiratory Infections: Viruses like feline herpesvirus or calicivirus can cause respiratory infections in cats, leading to sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and sometimes fever.

3. Asthma: Just like humans, cats can also develop asthma. It causes inflammation of the airways, leading to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

4. Foreign Objects: Cats, especially curious kittens, may inhale small objects like dust, grass, or even string, which can irritate their airways and cause sneezing and coughing.

5. Dental Problems: Dental issues, such as gum disease or tooth abscesses, can cause a cat to cough or sneeze due to the discomfort or bacterial infection affecting the respiratory tract.

6. Irritants: Strong household chemicals, cigarette smoke, or strong perfumes can irritate a cat’s sensitive respiratory system, leading to sneezing and coughing.

7. Nasal Polyps or Tumors: Growths in the nasal passages can cause nasal congestion, sneezing, and coughing in cats.

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8. Heartworm Disease: While more common in dogs, cats can also get heartworms. This parasitic infection can lead to respiratory symptoms like coughing.

9. Stress: Cats under stress may exhibit symptoms like sneezing and coughing. Stressors can include changes in the environment, introduction of new pets, or even loud noises.

10. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): This viral infection weakens a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to respiratory infections that cause sneezing and coughing.

11. Chronic Rhinitis: Some cats may have chronic inflammation of the nasal passages, leading to persistent sneezing and coughing.


1. When should I be concerned about my cat’s sneezing and coughing?
If your cat’s symptoms are severe, persistent, or accompanied by other signs like fever, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing, it is best to consult a veterinarian.

2. Can I give my cat over-the-counter cough medicine?
No, you should never give your cat over-the-counter cough medicine without veterinary guidance as some human medications can be toxic to cats.

3. How are respiratory infections in cats treated?
Treatment usually involves supportive care, such as fluids, antibiotics, antiviral medications, and sometimes, nebulization therapy to ease breathing.

4. Can cats develop allergies later in life?
Yes, cats can develop allergies at any age, even if they haven’t shown symptoms before.

5. Can second-hand smoke make my cat cough?
Yes, exposure to second-hand smoke can irritate a cat’s respiratory system and lead to coughing and other respiratory issues.

6. Can cats transmit upper respiratory infections to humans?
While rare, some upper respiratory infections in cats can be zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans. However, the risk is low.

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7. Can dental issues cause serious respiratory problems in cats?
Yes, severe dental problems can lead to bacterial infections that can affect the respiratory tract, causing coughing and sneezing.

8. Can stress really make my cat cough and sneeze?
Yes, stress can weaken a cat’s immune system and make them more susceptible to respiratory infections that cause sneezing and coughing.

9. Can cats be tested for allergies?
Yes, cats can undergo allergy testing to identify specific allergens. This can help in designing a management plan to reduce exposure to allergens.

10. Can heartworm disease be prevented in cats?
Yes, there are preventive medications available for cats to protect them from heartworm infection. Consult your veterinarian for the best options.

11. Is there a cure for asthma in cats?
While there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed successfully with medication, environmental modifications, and reducing exposure to triggers.

Remember, if your cat’s sneezing and coughing persist or worsen, it is always best to seek veterinary advice. Timely intervention can help identify and treat any underlying health issues, ensuring your feline friend stays happy and healthy.