Whilst typing on the computer just now (late night), I sneezed a few times. My cat comes running in from the other room and bites me on the arm. I shouted at him loudly enough to wake the upstairs neighbors who are still walking around above me.

Why does he attack me when I sneeze? Is there any way to train him to stop?

  • 3
    When you sneeze you can scare an animal away or any scary weird noise for that matter. That said, your cat probably does not like that noise and is trying to self defend itself with or without reaction. You also shouted at your cat which can just make your situations worse. Aug 18, 2014 at 2:11
  • That much makes sense. I had been searching for a teleological reason, like "keeping the herd strong by killing the diseased element". Maybe raising my arms out of reach would be a better strategy than shouting. Aug 18, 2014 at 3:39
  • Has he done this multiple times, or just this once?
    – Zaralynda
    Aug 18, 2014 at 15:59
  • 1
    Many times. He's about 5 now, and he's done this since he was a kitten. Aug 18, 2014 at 17:38
  • 1
    @luserdroog - Cats don't have herds.
    – Oldcat
    Oct 1, 2015 at 17:52

3 Answers 3


For some reason, your kitty has been conditioned to think sneezing is a bad thing. Your cat thinks something bad will happen to him when he hears a sneeze. In his past, a sneeze or a sound similar to a sneeze, could have conditioned him in this way.

You need to reconditioned him. To do this, you will need to keep his favorite treats throughout the house. When you feel like you're going to sneeze, run to one of the treat bags/containers and open it. Hold the bag out in front of you so the cat smells and sees the treats first. When he calmly responds, give him a few treats. Obviously, reconditioning for your specific issue will take a while, unless you sneeze everyday. (If you do have allergies and sneeze quite often, be careful not to over-feed on treats. They can cause a cat to gain unhealthy weight.)

After your cat calmly approaches, consistently, over a period of time, give the treats every other time you sneeze...then, every third time you sneeze. Soon, you will have a calm and happy cat and will no longer need to give the treats. Stick with it and be consistent. I wish you the best!

  • 4
    Soon your cat will be opening windows on cold nights so that you catch colds and get the treat train running again.
    – Oldcat
    Oct 1, 2015 at 17:53

I have twin 9-year-old boy cats. One of them has always attacked me when I sneeze. I just Googled this because I sneezed and he came tearing across the apartment, all set to attack me -- scratch and bite. I usually brandish a pillow to keep him away from me. It can be terrifying though. If I absent-mindedly sneeze and am not on guard I get mauled. This has not happened in years though, because I can no longer enjoy a good unselfconscious sneeze.

This cat is a bit of a control freak, in general. He seems to think he owns the house and everything in it. He has started trying to sleep on my pillow at night. I feel it is a dominance thing---reacting to the sneeze. He doesn't like it, does not see it as at all necessary, and wants it to stop.

His brother never acted this way re: sneezing until a few months ago. He doesn't attack, but if he is in the same room as I am when I sneeze, he will chirrup a little in the way he would if a bird were outside the window.

  • Cats act like they own the house.....because cats actually DO own the house! Humans exist to provide food and warm sleeping places for them. If you had the choice wouldn't you want to trade your life of working to pay for housing and cat food for your cat's life of sleeping all day (except when eating or playing)? (Properly brought up) humans are actually nothing but cat slaves with opposable thumbs to use the can opener. Aug 21, 2016 at 7:37

Mine jump up and run off when I sneeze, as if they're scared. I don't understand it but I've gotten used to it. One of them runs off if I cough unless I put a hand on his back first to reassure him. Best suggestion I have is either to develop some signal like that, or lift your hands when sneezing.

Late thought: I wonder whether a human sneeze sounds like a hiss to them.

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