What is Coughing in Cats

What is Coughing in Cats

What is it?

Coughing in cats is a common symptom of respiratory disease or irritation in the respiratory tract. It occurs when the body’s natural defense mechanisms try to expel foreign substances or irritants from the lungs. Coughing in cats may be a sign of a minor or more severe health problem, so it’s essential to have your cat evaluated by a veterinarian if you notice coughing or other respiratory symptoms.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of coughing in cats depends on the underlying cause of the symptom. Sometimes, no specific treatment is necessary if the cough is mild and caused by a temporary irritation or infection. However, if the cough is persistent or severe, the cat may require medication to manage the underlying condition, such as antibiotics for an infection or bronchodilators for asthma.

Breed Predispositions

Siamese Himalayan Persian Burmese Devon Rex


As Lisa snuggled up on the couch with her beloved Siamese cat, Luna, she suddenly heard a peculiar sound coming from her furry friend – a cough. Concerned and unfamiliar with this symptom in cats, she quickly started researching and booked an appointment with her veterinarian.

Coughing in cats is one of the most common health problems seen in cats. Coughing is a reflexive act of breathing through the mouth, which produces air from the lungs. It is usually accompanied by a sound called coughing. The cough reflex is one of the most primitive responses of the body and is triggered when something irritates the lining of the throat.

It may seem strange that coughing in cats is considered a problem, but it is an issue that affects millions of pets every year. Cats usually don’t cough, although they might sneeze. When cats do cough, it’s generally because of an upper respiratory tract problem.

Cats often develop chronic respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and asthma. This makes it difficult for them to breathe correctly and leads to coughing. It affects about 800,000 American cats or 1% of all household cats in the United States.

Dry coughing occurs without mucus production, while wet coughing produces thick mucous. Both types of coughs can co-occur.

There are many types of coughing, including dry and wet, and some cough differently based on season, weather, and age.

  • Wet coughing is typically associated with upper airway problems. The cat may sneeze excessively, snort, or even vomit. Cats with these conditions tend to cough excessively, sometimes producing frothy saliva. In addition, the cat may have a runny nose, nasal discharge, or eye discharge. 
  • Dry coughing is typically associated with lower airway problems.

Common Causes of Coughing in Cats

Cats are prone to allergies, just like people. And while we know that dust can trigger itchy eyes and noses, many other things could be causing your feline companion to cough up phlegm. Here are five possibilities.

  1. Asthma is an inflammatory lung disease that causes wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. It affects both young and adult felines. In addition, approximately 1 percent of ill cats are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis (or feline asthma), a disease similar to asthma in people. This respiratory disorder is triggered by allergens such as dust mites, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander.
  2. Bronchitis is a disease caused by airways (bronchi) inflammation due to infection, allergy, or irritation. It is characterized by coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and sometimes fever. Bronchitis is often accompanied by upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, and tonsillitis. In some cases, bronchitis may be associated with pneumonia.
  3. Pneumonia is a disease caused by bacteria or viruses that attack the lungs. It causes air sac (alveoli) inflammation, leading to difficulty breathing. 
  4. Respiratory infections cats are susceptible to respiratory illnesses just like humans. These include upper respiratory tract infections such as conjunctivitis, rhinitis, tracheobronchitis, and bronchiolitis. They can also suffer from lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, bronchopneumonia, bronchitis, and otitis media.
  5. Foreign objects cats are notorious for swallowing things. From sticks and toys to coins and string, many different items can make it into the stomach of a feline. Unfortunately, some foreign objects don’t pass through the digestive system and end up lodged somewhere else in the body.

Symptoms of Cat Cough

Cats are very susceptible to upper respiratory infections because they do not have the same immune system as humans. As a result, they cannot fight off bacteria as we can. Instead, cats rely on their sense of smell to recognize illness. Therefore, if a cat begins to cough, it is likely to suffer from one of several different types of respiratory infection.

The symptoms of drycoughing include:

  • hacking
  • wheezing
  • gagging
  • choking
Symptoms of coughing in cats

Other symptoms of wet coughing include:

  • thick mucus
  • cold
  • flu

An infected cat will usually have high body temperatures. Fever is a common symptom of many illnesses, including some respiratory diseases.

Diagnosis of Feline Dry Cough

Diagnosing feline coughing is often challenging because cats rarely cough when examined by a veterinarian. As a result, it is hard to determine whether the cat suffers from a bacterial or a viral infection.

To diagnose the cause of feline coughing, veterinarians use several methods, including laboratory cultures of a wash specimen taken from the lower respiratory tract, endoscopy, and radiographs. Laboratory cultures are the most common method used today. Endoscopy allows the veterinarian to examine the trachea and bronchi directly, whereas radiographs enable them to view internal structures.

  1. Laboratory cultures are usually performed after the patient receives antibiotics. They involve taking a small amount of fluid from the lower respiratory tract through a syringe. Then, bacteria are cultured and identified.
  2. Endoscopy involves inserting a flexible tube called an endoscope into the cat’s mouth and down its throat. The endoscope contains a camera at the tip, allowing the veterinarian to examine different parts of the cat’s airway.
  3. Radiographs are x-rayed pictures of the lungs. These pictures show the inside of the cat’s chest and help identify abnormalities. For example, radiographs may help identify pneumonia or foreign bodies lodged in the lung.

Treatment for Coughing Cat

One option is to administer antihistamines; medications used to relieve allergy symptoms. These drugs are safe for cats and can be administered orally or via injection. Another treatment involves giving antibiotics, which kill bacteria that may be causing the cough.

While both options are effective, they are only sometimes appropriate. For example, antihistamine medication may cause drowsiness in cats, while antibiotic therapy may lead to diarrhea or vomiting. Therefore, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian before administering either treatment.

If none of these options seem to work, your vet may require your cat to have surgery. Surgery is typically recommended when a cat suffers from chronic coughing. During the procedure, a vet will remove the source of the problem, such as a foreign bodies in the throat.

After the procedure, your feline friend will likely recover pretty quickly. However, they may experience temporary side effects, including increased thirst, drooling, and loss of appetite. If your pet recovers soon after surgery, you shouldn’t expect any lasting consequences.

Prevention of Kennel Cough in Felines

Cats are susceptible animals, and they get sick quickly. They are prone to diseases like upper respiratory problems, ear infections, skin allergies, etc. To keep your cat healthy, you should take care of its health. Some tips help us to maintain our pets’ health.

Prevention of coughing in cats
  1.  Feed them well – It is essential to feed your pet correctly. It would be best to give them a proper diet so they don’t face any disease.
  2.  Keep their environment clean – Cleanliness is vital in maintaining your pet’s health. So make sure that there is no dirt around your house.
  3.  Give them enough exercise – Exercise helps your pet stay fit and healthy. So make sure that your pet gets a sufficient amount of activity daily.
  4. Give them plenty of water – Water is essential for every living creature. So your pet should drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
  5. Vaccinate regularly – Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect your pet from diseases.
  6. Don’t let them sleep on dirty bedding – Dirty bedding can cause several diseases. So don’t allow your pet to sleep on contaminated bedding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lungworms are parasites that live inside the lungs of cats. They cause coughing and sneezing, which leads to respiratory problems.

The most common symptoms include coughing,

  • sneezing
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • diarrhea

The treatment depends on the type of lungworm. If the cat is infected with Toxocara cati (cat roundworm) or heartworm, the recommended treatment is fenbendazole at 10 mg/kg once daily for three days. This medication should be given orally. It is available from your veterinarian.

If the cat is infected with Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (pig lungworm), the recommended treatment is ivermectin at 200 mcg/kg once weekly for four weeks. This medication should be administered subcutaneously. It is available from any veterinary clinic.

Repeat the treatment if the cat has been treated with either of these medications and still shows signs of infection.

Kennel’s cough sounds like a loud sneeze in the cat. It is caused by parainfluenza virus type 2 (PI2). The symptoms include coughing, runny nose, fever, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, vomiting and diarrhea may occur.

  1. Keep your cat indoors. This way, they won’t be exposed to allergens like pollen and dust mites.
  2. Wash your hands frequently. Ensure to wash your hands after handling your cat’s food and toys to avoid cat food allergies.
  3. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers keep the air moist, which helps prevent allergic reactions.
  4. Provide your cat with a safe place to sleep. A bed away from allergens such as carpets, drapes, furniture, etc.
  5. Avoid giving your cat flea drops or insecticides. They could make your cat even more sensitive to allergens.
  6. Give your cat antihistamines. Antihistamines relieve the symptoms of allergies. Your vet can give your cat these medications.

The best way to treat a cat’s cold is to give him some warm milk and put him in front of a heater. We should call our vet if he still feels bad after this treatment.

If your cat coughs occasionally, it may have a cold. Make sure they are getting enough rest and drink plenty of water. If the cough persists or worsens, take your cat to the vet for a check-up.

Coughing is common in cats, but if your cat coughs a lot, has an exceptionally high fever, or is exhibiting other signs of illness, such as lethargy or seizures, it is recommended that you take him to the vet for a check-up. However, if your cat only mildly exhibits these symptoms and does not seem in pain, he may need an excellent old-fashioned potty break.

If a cat has an allergy to something in the environment, such as pet dander or pollen, this could lead to them developing allergies and asthma-like symptoms. In addition, this may cause them to cough up mucus (which can often be persistent) regularly.

If your cat is coughing, it may have a cold. Give them plenty of fluids and honey to drink, keep them warm, and cover their nose and mouth with a tissue if they cough excessively. If the cough does not go away within two days or there is any other indication that your cat has a more severe illness, take them to the vet for an examination.

One possible cause of a coughing cat is an allergic response. Other causes of cats’ cough can include respiratory infections, asthma, and other illnesses. If the coughing persists or worsens, it might be time to take your cat to the nearest animal hospital to be examined by a vet.

Most cats can also cough to clear their airways of mucus and other debris. But if your cat is coughing up blood, it may signify a more severe problem.

Many cats may cough due to URI (urinary tract infection). Symptoms of a urinary tract infection can include straining to urinate, frequent litter box use, bloody urine, and coughing. You should take her to the vet if you notice these symptoms.

If your cat has difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing, this could be a sign of pneumonia. If the problem continues or worsens despite treatment with antibiotics and exercise routines, additional tests may be necessary to determine the cause.

A few things could be wrong if your cat won’t stop coughing. A common cause of cat cough is upper respiratory infection (URI). Other causes include allergies, bronchitis, and even cancer. Often, the reason for a particular bout of coughing is not immediately apparent and requires further testing, such as a chest X-ray or blood work. If your cat has been gasping for more than 24 hours or breathing becomes difficult, she should see her veterinarian for evaluation and treatment options.

If your cat is coughing up blood, she may have a bleeding disorder. If you can’t identify the cause of the coughing, take her to a veterinarian for an examination.

A coughing cat may need veterinary attention if the coughing is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other signs that suggest the cat has a serious illness. Your vet may need to diagnose and treat it right away.

Pneumonia is a common feline respiratory disorder in cats. It is an infectious disease caused by a lung infection. It is most commonly spread through the air, and cats infected with pneumonia may have difficulty breathing. However, an infected cat can also spread pneumonia through contact with saliva or mucus. Coughing is a common symptom of pneumonia.

Cats can cough up a hairball; however, dogs are not as likely to do so. A cat’s stomach is smaller than a dog’s, and the esophagus is shorter, so hairballs are more difficult for cats to vomit up.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

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