Reverse sneezing might sound pretty silly, but it can be an indication of a serious health problem.

This is something that a lot of cats do, and it can be pretty amusing to witness.

When you learn about this odd behavior, you will know whether or not it is actually dangerous.

What Does Reverse Sneezing Look like?

When a cat reverse sneezes, they usually throw their head back with their mouth closed and lips tucked in. Normal sneezing causes the cat’s head to go forward, whereas reverse sneezing causes it to go backwards. The noise that cats make when doing this can be described as snorting.

Reverse sneezing usually doesn’t last any more than a minute. It is important that you know the difference between this and choking. If your cat is choking, it will be more of a coughing sound that goes on for longer.

What Causes Reverse Sneezing?

Depending on the cause of your cat’s reverse sneezing, it could be dangerous. There are quite a few reasons why your cat might do this.

Environmental Irritant

Most cats reverse sneeze when they breathe in some sort of irritant. This could be anything from a bit of dust to cigarette smoke. This triggers a spasm of the throat, which comes out as a snorting/sneezing sound. The irritation quickly dissipates, but it can be pretty startling for your pet.

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Nasal Tumor

While nasal tumors in cats are fairly uncommon, they can cause reverse sneezing to occur. Some of the other symptoms of such a tumor include loud breathing, weight loss, coughing, and lethargic behavior.

Dental Disease

Some cats that have chronic dental disease also exhibit reverse sneezing. This is usually accompanied by swelling and/or redness of the gums. It is important that you get your cat examined if you notice any of these things. Your vet should be able to tell you if there are any issues with your cat’s teeth or gums.

white cat sneeze


There is also a possibility that your cat’s allergies are causing its unusual sneezing. Cats can be allergic to all sorts of things, including pollen and even other animals. While it isn’t incredibly common, it is still a possibility to consider.

Nasal Mites

Your cat could also have nasal mites, which burrow into the lining of the nasal passageways. This can cause these passageways to become inflamed, resulting in reverse sneezing. Other signs of these mites in cats include head shaking, discharge from the nostrils, and regular sneezing.

Upper Respiratory Disease

An upper respiratory disease might be the cause of your cat’s reverse sneezing. These diseases are fairly common in felines, and they can be serious. Some of the symptoms of this include runny eyes, nasal discharge, severe couching, sniffling, and a hoarse voice.

If your cat has an upper respiratory disease, your vet will be able to prescribe a medicine to help with it. While it might not be treatable, you can manage the symptoms effectively over time.

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gray cat sneeze

How to Prevent Reverse Sneezing

There are some tips that you can follow to prevent reverse sneezing with your cat that you should keep in mind.

Be Careful with Your Cleaning Products

If you have any cats in the house, you should not use cleaning products that produce any aroma. This can irritate your cat’s soft pallet, which often leads to reverse sneezing and coughing.

Keep Your Home Clean

Maintaining a clean home can also go a long way towards keeping your kitty comfortable. A lot of cats sneeze because there is a lot of dust around. You should make a point of dusting all surfaces in your home when necessary.

Avoid Using Candles

You also shouldn’t use any candles or smoke near your cat. This is one of the most common irritants for these animals. Certain cats are especially sensitive to these things, and they can cause difficulty breathing.

Take Care of Your Cat’s Teeth

Since dental disease is one of the most common causes of reverse sneezing, you’ll want to make a point of taking good care of your cat’s teeth. This means brushing their teeth at least once every week. You should also take them to the vet for regular checkups to make sure that their periodontal disease isn’t getting worse.

Use a Short Leash

If you take your cat for walks, make sure that you use a short leash to keep them from poking their nose in things that could irritate their soft pallet.

Treatment for Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing doesn’t usually require treatment unless it is a symptom of a more serious problem. You typically have to just let your cat sneeze until it is done. This is usually an isolated event caused by something they breathed in.

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When to See Your Vet

If your cat is reverse sneezing on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to take them to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if their sneezing is an indication of something more. This is not a normal behavior for cats to exhibit on a daily basis.


  • Reverse sneezing is fairly common with both cats and dogs.
  • When a cat reverse sneezes, it throws its head back and makes a snorting sound.
  • This type of sneezing is usually caused by environmental irritants like dust or tobacco smoke.
  • There are some serious conditions that can cause reverse sneezing, such as a nasal tumor or nasal mites.
  • If your cat has allergies, it might sneeze or reverse sneeze from time to time.
  • Keeping your house clean can go a long way towards preventing reverse sneezing with your pet.
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Hi! I'm Anna and I´m a certified cynologist (KAU, ACW). Expert, blue cross volunteer, owner of Chinese crested kennel "Salvador Dali" and breedless friend called Fenya. "I can't imagine my life without dogs and I totally support the idea #AdoptDontShop".