If there’s one thing my cat does religiously, it is to meow every single time I sneeze. Is that your cat’s ritual too? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. Here, I discuss 10 possible reasons why our furry babies might have this visibly strange ritual.
Looking up videos on YouTube, it’s plain to see there’s a clear connection between the human sneezes and the cat meows that follow – it definitely doesn’t seem like it’s ever a coincidence.
Your cat meows when you sneeze because it might get startled or might be annoyed at you for disturbing its nap.
That being said, we really don’t know why cats sometimes do this. Along with the numerous other quirky behaviours of our furry feline friends that we do not yet have a definite explanation of, sneezing every time they get picked up remains a mystery subject to speculations.
From behaviors that have nothing to do with humans – like purring constantly, being obsessed with string, sighing every time they sit or sleep, and chewing on plastic, to those that have absolutely everything to do with the humans in their lives – like following you into the bathroom, staring in an unwavering gaze straight at you, licking your hands, licking your eyelids, bumping noses and even touching human faces gently with their paws – cats are some pretty odd balls!
To know more about your cat’s behavior when you sneeze or cough, let us read the article further.
12 Possible Reasons (and guesses) Why Cats Meow When We Sneeze Or Cough
1. Shocked And Startled
If someone scares you or if you get shocked then you would let out a scream, gasp, or any sound or noise.
Even your cat does the same thing, when they get startled or scared by your sneeze or cough they meow in response to it.
Your cat might like a peaceful and simple life and if anything disturbs their life then it will leave your cat meowing.
Sneezing and coughing are not heard that frequently by your cat it would normally feel startled when they hear it out of the blue.
Though this does not indicate that your cat is scared of you now but it is just surprised to hear your sneeze as it might be very loud.
Your cat will meow when you cough or sneeze loudly.
2. It Is Annoyed
Your cat can feel easily annoyed. As we know cats get annoyed at small things like petting them wrongly, over scratching their tail, disturbing their sleep, not giving enough food.
They show their annoyance by meowing. This is a very common response when they are annoyed.
Even too much noise can annoy your cat.
Although the sounds of meow are different for us humans we cannot understand the difference in their meow though we know that our cat is annoyed by your cough and sneeze.
If your cough or sneeze is troubling your cat’s sleep or relaxation time then they might not be startled but rather annoyed.
Your cat will then start meowing showing that they are annoyed as you disturbed it.
3. Mistaken For A Hiss
Your cat might mistake your sneeze for a hiss and they might also meow or hiss in response to it.
When you sneeze your cat might not understand that sound and mistake it for a hiss. Your cat might then meow to know why you are displeased with it.
Your cat would want to know what has happened to you but you might just be normally coughing or sneezing.
In the language of your cat hissing is a sign of asking someone to back off and so your cat might not like you hissing at it and then it might start meowing at you.
Your cat is a smart animal and they can easily identify your behavior after a certain period of experience with you.
As their world is restricted to your house mainly they can easily identify your behaviors and responses like your cough or sneeze.
Your cat might enjoy imitating your behavior and so they might take on to your habits too.
If your cat meows after you sneeze they might actually be trying to imitate you and might be imitating the statement bless you that people say.
5. It could be your cat saying “Bless You” in catspeak.
While this definitely could be us humans projecting our own thoughts and emotions onto our cats, in my mind, it still seems entirely possible that cats may be responding to sneezes in a similar way to the way we do – acknowledging them with a little verbal communication.
6. Or maybe your cat is just surprisedly asking you, “Ya’lright there buddy?”
We as humans sometimes ask humans who have had a particularly aggressive sneeze or a round of allergy sneezing fits if they’re alright.
This may be something cats are sort of doing with their meows or chatters – though again, of course this absolutely may be us projecting our own thoughts and emotions onto cats.
7. Mimicking or responding to your weird human noise.
This is an interesting one to consider.
It may be that your cat, especially if it’s a chatty one that likes to “respond” to you or mimic your talking to him or her regularly, is returning your sneeze with a meow or chatter because he or she thinks that you are communicating with them and responding in kind with a noise of their own.
8. Disapproval of your loud human noise interrupting their nice cat peace.
When humans are annoyed, they often grunt to communicate their disapproval of whatever’s bothering them.
Cats who chatter, meow, chirp, or make other noises right after a sneeze may be doing so because they’re bothered and annoyed at the sound of sneezing – or a particular sneeze – as well.
Nothing really disturbs the peace quite like a loud sneeze.
While some humans sneeze quietly, I’ve met my fair share of humans whose sneezes are – quite frankly – almost obnoxious.
If a cat only seems to respond to really loud sneezes and not to quiet ones, say he or she only makes a peep after a sneeze if the sound comes from one human who happens to have an insanely big sneeze – I’d say that’s good indication that the cat is bothered by the noise, and using the sound he or she makes after to communicate how bothered he or she is.
9. A cry in response to perceived hissing
I’ve seen this theory listed in a lot of places around the web, and I do feel like cats who take sneezes as hisses exist, but I don’t think it’s most cats.
Cats sneeze just like we humans do, so I have a feeling most cats will know what a sneeze is when they hear it.
While some human sneezes, as I’ve mentioned, are really loud and obnoxious, and maybe those might be interpreted as hissing, I dare say most cats likely don’t take a regular or soft sneeze that way.
10. Just being polite in a social chat
Listen, maybe those who have never had cats or haven’t ever been around that-special-kind-of-cat who’s an incredibly social animal won’t know, but there are kitties out there who genuinely respond back to humans talking at them with meows of their own.
Some cats will do this every so often, replying to humans verbally only once in a while. Others will do this most of the time.
And it’s those cats who are, in my opinion, the highest contenders for being proof that this theory might be true.
If a cat already responds pretty well near all the time to human questions and chatter aimed at him or her with chatter and meows of it’s own, I can see how a sneeze might be interpreted as a kind of sound like a chatter toward the cat, and thus that cat may just be chatting back.
11. Scolding you back
While this may seem like a little farfetched, it is fun to consider how a cat might think of your sneezing as if you were scolding at the cat, and so the “meow” is essentially an angry “no you” or “right back at ya!”
12. Asking if you’re mad at them
If your little furry baby isn’t the kind to shout back, then it could actually be a quiet, polite whimper or a soft “hey, you ok?”
Why Does My Cat Chatter When I Sneeze?
Your cat would chatter when you sneeze or cough. It is a normal behavior of your cat.
We might have observed that cat’s usually chatter when they see birds from a window. This is one of the most common behaviors of your cat.
They chatter when they see birds as they might be trying to mimic the birds’ sounds and their beaks moving.
They are actually confusing the bird by making such a sound and so your cat might be able to sneak up on the bird.
Though one more reason for your cat’s chatter is when they come across a shock or anything that could give them a burst of adrenaline.
Cats chatter when they get into fights or chase prey.
Hence this also tells us that when you sneeze it causes your cat to be shocked and so they chatter.
Your cat has very sensitive ears and if your sneeze unexpectedly and loudly your cat could have an adrenaline rush and hence start chattering.
When you keep sneezing it could distress your cat and your cat would chatter in response.
So try to avoid sneezing around your cat so that you do not distress it.
Keep your cat in a place where they know such things will not disturb it.
Which Are The Other Weird Reactions Of Your Cat To Sneezing?
As we know meowing is a common response of your cat to sneezing, all cats might have different reactions.
Some cats might chirp when they hear a sneeze.
As we know that cats chirp when they see prey to provoke it. However, after further research, it is understood that cats chirp out of excitement.
The cat might get excited about seeing prey for them.
If your cat is comfortable with you then your sneeze might excite your cat than scare it. This is a very rare response to a sneeze.
The loud noise of a sneeze might feel like you want to play with your cat and hence they chirp out of excitement.
Cats also tend to run away when they hear a sneeze.
Your sneeze could startle your cat and as an immediate response to it, your cat might just run away from there.
As we know that your cat might not even like loud noises. If your sneeze is too loud then it could scare your cat away.
Even if your cat is comfortable with you, the loud sneezing noises can scare your cat and trigger it to run away.
Why Does My Cat Meow When I Clear My Throat?
As your cat has only one way to communicate with you through a voice it will meow in every matter.
Even if it is mimicking a loud sneeze or your voice when you clear your throat, it will all be in the form of a meow.
Your cat prefers peaceful surroundings and a loud noise of you clearing your throat could disturb your cat and so your cat would also respond to it with a meow.
Indicating that it feels annoyed with that sound.
Though if your cat does not respond to soft sneezes or voices of clearing the throat then the loud noise is the problem.
But if it responds to the soft noises too then the problem is something else.
Your coughing or clearing of the throat could feel like the voice of hissing, especially if it is soft.
And so your cat might feel that the person who sneezed or coughed is a threat and might get aggressive.
Your cat gives a response to a chatter then if the person sneezing is close to your cat, your cat might perceive the noise to be chatter and so will start meowing.
Why Does My Cat Stare At Me When I Sneeze?
Many cats do not meow but stare at their owners when they hear their owner sneeze, whether it is startled or is very used to this noise.
Your cat might be trying to see if you are alright.
Does My Cat Understand Sneezes?
No, your cat will not understand sneezes unless you sneeze very frequently. If the sneeze is very loud then your cat might jump and run away. Your cat’s ear detects a loud sound then the tiny muscles in the middle of its ear will contract.
This will help your cat to lessen the sound transmission while protecting the inner ear.
Sneeze doesn’t give enough time to your cat’s ear for protecting the sound transmission from entering the delicate inner ear.
Your cat would not understand your sneeze rather might relate it to some negative experience it has had in life.
Your cat has a loud sound aversion, though we don’t know the reason it is assumed that it could be due to early development.
If you think your cat’s reaction to sneeze is weird and due to some past trauma, you should consult your vet.
Why Does My Cat Attack Me When I Sneeze?
If you sneeze suddenly your cat will react to the loud sound as it will be startled.
Your cat might run away from you, start meowing or even attack you.
The ears of your cat are sensitive to sound and so the sneeze would startle your cat. So the sneeze spurs your cat into action and it might attack you.
Though the attack would not last once they realize you haven’t harmed it.
Your cat might become aggressive after your sneeze and bite you drawing your blood. As your sneeze could also sound like a hiss to your cat.
If this aggression becomes a habit and a normal response you should consult your vet.
Frequently Asked Questions
My Cat Cries When I Sneeze, Why?
You might be disturbing your cat’s nap or time of relaxation when you sneeze. It does not startle your cat but annoys it.
They will start meowing or crying showing their discomfort.
Why Is My Cat Reacting To My Sneeze?
Your cat is reacting to your sneeze because the sneeze was loud and sudden. It might startle your cat.
If your sneeze is loud for others, it might be very loud for your cat and hurt its ear.
Why Does My Cat Come To Me When I Sneeze?
Your cat feels that when you sneeze you have hurt yourself and so it comes to you out of care.
So whenever you sneeze your cat might be startled at first but then come to you out of care.
Your cat gets scared when you sneeze so try to sneeze away from it.
Even if your cat does not understand your sneeze it cares for you and might think you are hurt.
If your cat is very aggressive every time you sneeze you should consult your vet.
To know more, ask us in the comment section.