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Why Does My Cat Meow When I Sneeze? 5 Common Reasons

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Man hugging his beautiful cat on white background

Cats sometimes do things that just don’t make any sense. For example, why does your cat meow when you sneeze?

There are several reasons that a cat might do this, such as being startled, confused, or annoyed or thinking that you’re hissing at them.

Understanding your cat’s behaviors is a great way to get to know them better, so in this article, we cover the reasons that your cat might react when you sneeze.

The 5 Reasons Why Your Cat Meows When You Sneeze

1. Your Cat Was Startled

This is more likely to occur if your cat is sleeping nearby and all is quiet. A sudden loud sneeze will startle your cat, resulting in a meow, which is even more liable to happen if your cat is anxious or shy.

It’s kind of like when someone startles you, and you give an involuntary gasp or yell. Your cat’s meow might come from being frightened suddenly in the same way.

a cat meowing on the couch in the room
Photo Credit: Anatoliy Cherkas, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Is Confused

You can imagine that a sudden sneeze might sound a little odd to a cat, particularly if you don’t sneeze that often.

Hearing this loud, strange sound coming out of you might cause your cat to meow because they feel curious or uncertain. They’re basically checking in with you.

3. Your Cat Is Annoyed

This falls under the startled category, except that instead of being momentarily scared, your cat is annoyed at being disturbed. Isn’t that just like a cat?

They might feel offended at the sudden blast of air and saliva that erupted from your mouth that startled them, and they are expressing that annoyance!

cat meow
Photo Credit: athree23, Pixabay

4. Your Cat Is Just Having a Conversation With You

You’ve probably heard that cats meow primarily at humans, so they might be conversing with you after a sneeze. Some people think that their cats are saying “bless you” or “gesundheit” after sneezing.

study in 2020 found that some cats tend to copy their owners, so your cat might just be copying your sneeze but with a meow.

5. Your Cat Might Think That You’re Hissing

Of course, this point depends entirely on how you sneeze; they are all pretty unique to the individual. But since many sneezes tend to end with an almost hissing sound, your cat might think that you are indeed hissing.

This can cause your cat to meow or even hiss right back at you. You might need to attempt to change your sneeze if possible. Apparently, 45% of people have a public sneeze and a private sneeze, so perhaps the public sneeze should be used at home!

cat meowing
Image Credit: PIqsels

Other Strange Reactions From Your Cat When You Sneeze

Meowing after a sneeze is not the only reaction that you might get from a cat.

Your Cat Might Chirp

Some cats are known to chirp after a sneeze. You know how cats will watch birds outside and sometimes make those odd little chattering and chirping sounds? Some cats react similarly after hearing their owner sneeze.

It’s thought that the chirping and chattering that cats do when they watch prey is from excitement. So, your sudden loud sneeze might perhaps be triggering that same excited response.

Your Cat Might Run Away

The explanation for this reaction is obvious. Maybe instead of meowing because your cat was startled, they fled the room instead. If your cat tends to be generally nervous, this can be an understandable response. Cats are highly sensitive, and while they are predators, they are small animals that can just as easily be prey.

This can help explain why they will run away at top speed if something startles them—like a sudden and loud sneeze!

close up of a scared cat hiding
Image Credit: Maistet, Shutterstock

Your Cat Might Do Nothing

Some cats will not react to you sneezing at all, or they might stare at you but otherwise don’t seem to care one way or the other about your sneezes.

This is also perfectly natural. Cats are all unique from one another. Some might be annoyed, while others are startled, so a non-reaction isn’t all that strange.

How You Can Help Your Cat

If your cat doesn’t seem all that offended or scared of your sneezes, you can skip this section, but if they seem terrified or angry when you sneeze, there are a few steps that you can take.

You can try doing a few quiet fake sneezes while they are in the same room and giving them treats when they don’t react too badly. Eventually, your cat might start associating your sneezes with positive things, and they might stop reacting in a negative way.

But overall, if your cat is just meowing and otherwise seems fine, don’t worry too much about it. We can’t always shield our cats from every little thing that might make them jump.

calico cat getting a meat treat
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock


There are many reasons that a cat might chatter or meow when you sneeze. But if your sneezes are especially loud, you can try using the treats, or if your cat is in close proximity and sleeping peacefully, try one of your “public sneezes.”

Even humans can get startled when someone sneezes loudly close by, so if your cat meows every time you sneeze, unless they appear unhappy, just consider that your cat is just making sure you’re okay.

Featured Image Credit: Tania Castan, Shutterstock

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