Cat Sneezing A Lot No Discharge


Frequent sneezing in cats without nasal discharge is a concerning symptom that should not be ignored. While an occasional sneeze is normal, repeated sneezing episodes can indicate an underlying health issue. Sneezing helps expel irritants from the nasal cavity, but excessive sneezing without discharge points to irritation, inflammation or infection. It’s important to identify the cause and get prompt treatment to prevent complications. Left untreated, some of the potential conditions can progress and cause further respiratory problems.

Potential Causes

There are several potential causes for a cat that is sneezing frequently without nasal discharge:


Allergies are a very common cause of chronic sneezing in cats. Cats can develop allergies to things like pollen, dust mites, mold, and certain foods. Inhaling these allergens irritates the nasal passages and causes sneezing. Allergies tend to cause sneezing year-round rather than being seasonal.

Some signs of allergy-related sneezing in cats include:

  • Sneezing in bursts
  • Constant licking or scratching at the nose
  • Rubbing the face on surfaces

Allergy testing and medications from your vet can help manage allergies in cats.


Upper respiratory infections caused by viruses like feline herpesvirus and calicivirus are very common in cats. The viruses attack the sinuses, throat, and nasal passages leading to sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. Viral infections tend to cause intermittent sneezing when active.

Antiviral medications may help shorten the duration of viral infections. Vaccines can help prevent infections by these respiratory viruses in cats.

Foreign Objects

Grass, dirt, dust, or other debris getting lodged in the nasal passages can irritate the sensitive membranes and cause sneezing. This tends to cause sudden bursts of violent sneezing.

Carefully flushing the nasal passages with saline may help dislodge foreign material. Preventing access to dusty areas may also help.

Dental Disease

Inflammation and infection from dental disease in cats can sometimes manifest as sneezing. The infection travels through the bone from bad teeth and enters the nasal passages. This tends to cause one-sided sneezing.

Professional dental cleanings and extractions can resolve sneezing from dental issues in cats.


Cats can develop allergic reactions to things like pollen, dust, certain foods, fleas, and mold. Inhalant allergies to airborne particles like pollen and dust are a common cause of sneezing in cats. These allergens can irritate the nasal passages and sinuses, leading to sneezing. Pollen exposure in particular can trigger allergy symptoms in cats when trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen into the air.

Allergies to things like food ingredients, chemicals in household products, or flea saliva can also cause cats to sneeze. Food allergies may develop over time as the cat develops an adverse reaction to a particular protein or carbohydrate in their diet. This triggers an immune system response that can lead to inflammation, irritation, and sneezing.

Allergic reactions tend to cause additional symptoms beyond just sneezing, like runny eyes, nose and scratching. So allergies should be suspected if the cat has recurring bouts of sneezing along with these other signs. Keeping the home clean, washing bedding regularly, and using air filters can help reduce dust and other allergens. Diet trials and flea control may also be warranted if food or flea allergies are suspected. Antihistamines may provide relief, but determining and avoiding the trigger is key.


Two common viral infections that can cause sneezing in cats are feline herpesvirus (FHV) and feline calicivirus (FCV). FHV is one of the most common upper respiratory viruses in cats and kittens. It is very contagious and causes ulcers in the nose and throat, discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and fever. The initial infection often develops into a lifelong latent infection that can flare up during times of stress. FCV also causes upper respiratory tract disease but symptoms are often milder than FHV. It can lead to mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, sneezing, and fever. Like FHV, calicivirus infections tend to be lifelong with periods of dormancy and recurrence (

Kittens, unvaccinated cats, those from crowded shelters, and cats with weakened immune systems are most at risk for these viral infections. Vaccination can help prevent infection but cannot completely protect against FHV and FCV. There is no specific treatment beyond supportive care for viral upper respiratory infections in cats. Antibiotics are ineffective since these are viral rather than bacterial infections. The best prevention is proper vaccination, reduced exposure to infected cats, reduced stress, good nutrition, and a strong immune system (why cats sneeze: causes, symptoms and treatments).

Foreign Objects

Cats can sometimes get foreign objects stuck in their nasal passages, leading to sneezing and other symptoms. Common foreign objects that can become lodged include grass, dirt, and irritants like smoke. According to one source, “Signs that may indicate a foreign object in a cat’s nose include persistent sneezing, nasal discharge, pawing at the nose, nasal congestion, breathing difficulties, reverse sneezing, head shaking, and nasal bleeding.” 1

When cats go outside, grass seeds can get stuck in their nasal passages if they brush through foliage or grass. Dirt or dust can also get lodged in their nose when exploring or digging outside. Indoor cats may also sneeze from irritants in the air like smoke or dust. If a foreign object gets stuck, it can cause inflammation, infection, and damage to the sensitive nasal tissue, leading to sneezing and discomfort.

Some signs that a cat may have something stuck in their nose include excessive sneezing, nasal discharge, pawing at the nose, nosebleeds, and loud breathing sounds. If the foreign object is not removed, it can lead to more serious complications. Thus, it’s important to examine the cat’s nostrils and seek veterinary care if a foreign body is suspected.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is a common cause of chronic sneezing in cats. Dental issues like gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth abscesses can lead to sneezing. As the teeth and gums become infected, the barrier between the tooth roots and nasal cavity can be compromised. This allows bacteria and irritation to move from the mouth into the nasal passages, resulting in sneezing.

Abscesses at the tooth roots are particularly problematic. These abscesses form when advanced dental disease penetrates deep into the tooth, infecting the root and creating a pocket of pus. The purulent material irritates the lining of the nasal cavity located near the tooth roots, causing chronic sneezing. Abscesses also release bacteria that can infect the nasal passages and sinuses, resulting in inflammation and discharge. According to experts, tooth root abscesses are a very common cause of sneezing and nasal discharge in cats with no other symptoms of upper respiratory infection (source:

Cats with advanced dental disease may also have related issues like erosions in the hard palate separating the nasal and oral cavities. These erosions allow easy passage of bacteria and debris into the nose and sinuses, leading to sneezing. Treatment requires a full dental exam, x-rays to identify problem teeth, and extraction of diseased teeth.

When to See a Vet

If your cat has been sneezing for over 2 weeks without improvement, it’s time to schedule a veterinary appointment. Prolonged sneezing can be a sign of a chronic upper respiratory infection that requires medical treatment.

You should also make an appointment if the sneezing is accompanied by lethargy, appetite changes, or other signs of illness. Lethargy and appetite issues can indicate your cat is not feeling well and needs care.

According to experts, any nasal discharge lasting more than 2 weeks warrants a veterinary visit to identify the underlying cause and begin appropriate treatment ( It’s important not to delay seeking veterinary attention when prolonged sneezing persists.

In summary, schedule a vet visit if your cat has been sneezing for over 2 weeks straight, seems lethargic, or has changes in appetite. These signs indicate an underlying issue requiring medical care.


To diagnose the cause of excessive sneezing in cats, the vet will start with a full physical exam, checking the nose, mouth, eyes, and throat for any abnormalities. They may use an otoscope to look up the nostrils and examine the nasal passages. Imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans can help identify nasal polyps, tumors, tooth root abscesses, or other structural problems causing irritation. The vet may take samples for culture to test for bacterial or fungal infections. Bloodwork can check for underlying conditions like hyperthyroidism. Cats may be tested for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) as well. Biopsies may be taken to analyze nasal tissue. The physical exam and diagnostic testing aim to pinpoint the exact cause of sneezing so it can be treated properly.


The treatment for a cat that is sneezing a lot with no discharge will depend on the underlying cause. According to Ethos Veterinary Health, most cats are initially treated with antibiotics and/or antiviral medications, as infections are the most common cause of sneezing without discharge.

If an allergy is suspected, the source of the allergen will need to be identified and removed from the cat’s environment if possible. Antihistamines or steroids may help control allergy symptoms as well. Specific allergy shots can also help desensitize cats to what they are allergic to.

Foreign objects lodged in the nasal passages may need to be manually removed by a veterinarian. Dental disease can be treated through professional dental cleanings and extractions.

According to Point Vincente Veterinary Hospital, if the cat seems otherwise healthy except for sneezing, home treatment with saline nasal drops, humidity, or air purification measures may help clear nasal passages. However, veterinary attention is warranted if sneezing persists or if other concerning symptoms develop.


There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent excessive sneezing in cats:

Avoid irritants and allergens: Keep the cat away from known irritants and allergens. This may include scented litter, perfumes, cigarettes, dust, pollen, etc. Using an air purifier can help remove allergens from the home environment. Keep the cat indoors to limit exposure to outdoor allergens and irritants (Source).

Dental care: Maintain good dental health and hygiene to prevent dental disease which can cause sneezing. Brush the cat’s teeth regularly, provide dental treats and chews, and have regular veterinary dental cleanings (Source).

Vaccination: Keep the cat up to date on vaccines, especially for upper respiratory viruses like feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. Vaccination can reduce the severity of infections from these viruses which commonly cause sneezing (Source).

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