Because Zooey does!
Every time I sneeze (which isn’t terribly often, unless it’s allergy season!) Zooey comes running from whatever room in the house she was in, and meows at me. My mom’s cat, her Cousin Squash, does the same thing! Is this something YOUR cats do?
Out of curiosity, I decided to google it, and see what I could find out.
In fact, I found out that this is not an unusual occurrence! The majority of the sites I found said the reason it happens is because the sound of a human sneeze closely resembles the sound of a cat hissing or “spitting,” and they meow in response to what they view as aggression. (Check out this forum here)
But…that really doesn’t seem to match up with Zooey’s reaction. First of all, honesty time – I’ve hissed at my cats – sometimes the only way to get an unruly kitty to listen is to BECOME alpha kitty… and they don’t react at all the same as when I sneeze. Usually they hiss back, arch their backs and turn into a Halloween Kitty, or just crouch and glare at me from underneath the couch.
Second of all, Zooey is a talker, and she has very distinct meows. In fact, a lot of the time she sounds mad even when she’s not. Whenever you pick her up, for instance, it sounds a bit like you’re torturing her, even though she’s purring and trying to lick your hair. She has meows with more than one syllable, chattering meows, baby tiny squeaks that barely even count as meows, demanding meows that sound like she’s yelling at you, sometimes her meows go up at the end like she’s asking a question (usually when she enters a room), and there are times when I swear she even mimics the sound of your voice when you’re talking to her. But the point is, with such a variety of ways that she uses to express herself, it’s usually pretty clear what she’s trying to communicate to you. And when I sneeze, it’s never a “You’re trying to attack me so I’m defending myself” meow – it honestly sounds more like a meow of concern!
So I did some more searching, and came across this answer, which seemed a bit more fitting – it says that the reasons cats meow when you sneeze is because they’re surprised, since sneezes come on so fast they’re not an anticipated behavior.
Maybe so…but even after my research…I’m still inclined to believe they’re saying “Bless You!”