It might be worrying to hear and see your cat reverse sneezing. However, It helps to know that it is often not a cause for alarm. So you might be wondering - What could be the reasons behind reverse sneezing in cats?

A cat reverse sneezing is your feline friend’s way of clearing their mouths or throats from irritants or allergens. It is often not dangerous nor contagious, but if they’re doing it a lot and for long, bringing them to the vet is best to be able to diagnose and treat the possible underlying causes.

Cats may reverse sneeze at any given time, just like normal sneezing. Note that it may sound and look like choking, so make sure that it stops in a few seconds. It helps to watch videos of what reverse sneezing looks and sounds like so you may be able to identify it when it happens.

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  1. Regular Sneezing vs. Reverse Sneezing in Cats
  2. What Does Reverse Cat Sneezing Sound Like
  3. How to Treat Reverse Sneezing in Cats
  4. FAQs
  5. Conclusion

Regular Sneezing vs. Reverse Sneezing in Cats

What is reverse sneezing in cats?

Do cats reverse sneeze or is it just the same as regular sneezing? Yes, cats may exhibit reverse sneezing, and while what it does in a cat’s body is generally the same as regular sneezing, there are distinctions. Let us take a closer look below.

So what is a reverse sneeze in cats and how does it compare to regular sneezing? Like a regular sneeze, a reverse sneeze in cats is an involuntary reflex of a cat’s body to clear out irritants from their airways. There are slight differences between a regular sneeze and a reverse sneeze, however. In a regular sneeze, a cat forces air out of their nose to clear irritants. On the other hand, a reverse sneeze is when a cat sucks air in through their nose in order to clear irritants.

The nasal cavity, which is the airway that extends from the nose all the way to the windpipe, is connected to the back of the throat. When a cat reverse sneezes or quickly inhales air that goes down to their windpipe, this clears irritants that can be found at the back of the throat, near their soft palate.

What Does Reverse Cat Sneezing Sound Like

What it sounds like

Hearing a reverse sneeze from your cat may sound much like choking, as if there’s something obstructing their throat. It may also sound like a snort, gag, wheeze, honk, or gasp. If it’s just a reverse sneeze, however, the weird sound should go away in just a few seconds. Afterwhich, your cat’s behavior should return back to normal. If the sound continues, especially if there are accompanying symptoms such as breathing difficulties, it is important to call their vet immediately.

So you might be wondering what causes the strange noise. Your cat’s soft palate is located at the back of your cat’s mouth, near their throat. When a reverse sneeze happens, spasms occur, resulting in them making that weird sound.

What it looks like

Concurrently, the cat may stretch their body or create chest and abdomen vibrations. They’ll likely be standing still. In addition, they may also have their eyes closed and necks stretched. Meanwhile, it may also appear as if they’re smiling as their lips may stretch across their teeth.

Monitoring your cat is important, especially when they are exhibiting symptoms that are out of the ordinary. A good pet camera such as the Petcube Cam will definitely come in handy when it comes to monitoring your cat, especially in times when you’re away or busy. If your cat is reverse sneezing for example, especially if it happens frequently, the Petcube Cam can easily detect it with its full HD video, wide angle view, and 8x zoom features. Not to mention, you also get to hear the sound that your cat makes (e.g. akin to choking when they reverse sneeze) with the camera’s smooth 2-way audio. This will help you identify their behavior more accurately.

Why Do Cats Reverse Sneeze

If you catch your cat reverse sneezing, you might ask questions such as - “Why is my cat reverse sneezing?” or “What causes reverse sneezing in cats?”

When a cat reverse sneezes, it generally means that something is irritating their nasal cavity, more particularly - their soft palate. Among the possible triggers are:

Occasional reverse sneezing in cats is generally normal, as their body tries to clear their nasal passageways of irritants. Meanwhile, excessive cat reverse sneezing may be due to allergies, nasal parasites, or prolonged exposure to environmental irritants.

”The duration is very dependent on the cause,” according to Dr. Andrea N. Johnston, DVM, internal medicine specialist and former small animal internal medicine instructor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She added that if the symptoms progressively become worse in a span of minutes to hours, seeking veterinary care is important.

In rare cases, a cat may exhibit severe reverse sneezing due to underlying conditions such as nasal tumors and dental disease. Such cases often have accompanying (and more serious) symptoms alongside reverse sneezing.

Having a good pet camera such as the Petcube Cam 360 ensures that you won’t miss a thing when it comes to monitoring your cat. That way, if they exhibit any symptoms that may point to any possible health issues, you may be able to address them early on. Apart from the camera’s features with both pets and pet owners in mind, the camera also gives you access to Petcube’s 24/7 online vet service, which allows you to consult with certified veterinarians anytime and anywhere you may be. Talk about convenience and personalized service.

How to Treat Reverse Sneezing in Cats


In cases of mild reverse sneezing that only occur occasionally, without causing your cat much stress, vets usually recommend just observing your cat first. Meanwhile, they may give advice on how to provide your cat comfort when a reverse sneeze happens such as calming or stroking them gently.

Environmental Changes

How to stop reverse sneezing in cats if it happens frequently? If you are able to determine that environmental factors such as allergens or irritants are triggering your cat to reverse sneeze, your veterinarian may recommend environmental modifications. For instance, they may ask you to minimize you cat’s exposure to smoke, dust, strong scents, and other possible irritants that can be found in your cat’s environment.


If your cat is reverse sneezing with diagnosed inflammation in their airways, corticosteroids may be recommended by your vet. This may help lessen the inflammation and relieve the symptoms. Note, however, that using steroids on a long-term basis may cause side effects. Careful monitoring is therefore necessary.


When your cat’s reverse sneezing is due to allergies, your vet may prescribe antihistamines to manage the symptoms. This may help lessen hypersensitivity in your cat’s respiratory tract, minimizing the severity as well as the frequency of episodes. However, note that some cats may not respond positively to antihistamines. Also, use of antihistamines should be under the guide of their veterinarian.


In rare cases when the reverse sneezing is due to masses or nasal polyps that may obstruct your cat’s airways, among other possible symptoms, surgical removal may be needed. Such interventions are usually reserved for cases that are persistent and severe.

How to treat reverse sneezing in cats may widely vary, depending on the underlying cause, how severe the case is, and how they respond to initial treatments.

While reverse sneezing is generally nothing to worry about, severe cases can potentially be a medical emergency. And because we never know when emergencies may occur, being prepared will go a long way. An alternative to pet insurance, Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund provides all around support when it comes to pet emergencies. Think about it — For every annual subscription, you get upto $3000 for pet emergencies for upto 6 pets. The service also pays the clinic directly so won’t have to worry about having to shell out money during a critical time. In addition, you also get access to a 24/7 online vet for first aid guidance and emergency triage. With the Pet Emergency Fund, pets and pet owners are given the much needed support during pet emergencies.


Is reverse sneezing in cats dangerous?

Reverse sneezing is rarely a cause for alarm in itself. However, if you’re worried / if it frequently occurs / if there are other more serious symptoms / if your cat shows signs of distress, veterinary assistance should be sought.

If a cat is reverse sneezing and vomiting, is it a medical emergency?

When your cat reverse sneezes, it may sometimes appear that they are also vomiting. In mild cases, it is often not a cause for alarm. However, the reverse sneezing is accompanied by actual vomiting or if your cat appears to be in distress, it is recommended to bring them to their vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.


In itself, reverse sneezing is often nothing to worry about, and is just your cat’s way of clearing out irritants. However, in cases when it happens frequently or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be due to an underlying cause that may range from mild to serious. If you are unsure, it is best to bring your cat to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment if needed.

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