Health Symptoms & Solutions Why Cats Cough and What to Do With a Coughing Cat

Why Cats Cough and What to Do With a Coughing Cat

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If your cat is coughing, it is natural to be worried but keep in mind that most of the causes are harmless and easy to treat.

However, there could be a more serious underlying condition behind your cat’s cough, so let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this could happen.

My Cat Is Coughing, What Could It Be?

When a cat is coughing, it means that something is irritating her throat or airways, or even lungs. Some reasons for when this happens are harmless while at other times it can be dangerous. If your cat is coughing, take her to the veterinarian for diagnostic tests because the treatment depends on the underlying condition.

Wondering if your cat can catch a cold? Read all about it in this blog. 

Feline Asthma

Feline asthma is the usual culprit behind your cat’s cough since it is the most common respiratory disease that affects more than 1% of all domestic cats in the USA. Cats that spend time outdoors are more likely to be affected by it.

Asthma in cats can be caused by pollen, mold, cat litter dust, perfume, cigarette smoke, stress and obesity. Cats with feline asthma will often breathe with an open mouth and have a mild but ongoing cough, sometimes accompanied by wheezing. Keep in mind that feline asthma can become worse quickly, so take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as you notice the cough.

Other Causes of Coughing in Cats

  • Allergies – Both causes and clinical signs of potential allergies are like those of feline asthma, so take your cat to the vet to determine what it is.
  • Heartworms – This is a dangerous disease that is spread to cats by mosquitoes. If you live in a high-risk area, make sure to get preventive medicine for your cat.
  • Fungal Infection – A certain fungus can cause an infection in your cat’s upper respiratory tract or lungs. These fungi that can cause a respiratory infection are commonly found in soil.
  • Pneumonia – Another common health problem that leads to coughing is pneumonia, which is diagnosed with X-rays. It can be mild but it can also be life-threatening if left untreated.
  • Heart Disease – Coughing can also be a symptom of heart disease like congestive heart failure. This is a serious condition that is diagnosed with an ultrasound or electrocardiogram.
  • Lung Cancer – Although rare, lung cancer is a potential cause of coughing in cats. Depending on the size and type of tumor, treatment may require medication or even surgery.

In addition to these health issues, your cat may also be coughing if she wears a tight cat collar. A tight collar can put pressure on her windpipe and cause damage that leads to coughing.

Photo of short-coated brown cat. Part of the "Why Cats Cough and What to Do With a Coughing Cat" article.
Photo by Irina Larionova on Unsplash

What to Do If Your Cat Is Coughing

It may be hard to determine if your cat is actually coughing or if she is gagging due to hairballs. She may also be choking, so the first step is to determine what is going on.

Once you are sure that your cat is coughing, take her to the veterinarian to determine the cause. Make sure to provide your vet with the necessary information – is the cough dry or wet, when it happens, what are possible triggers, etc.

When your veterinarian determines the cause, he will administer the appropriate treatment. Depending on the cause, treatment may include cough suppressants, steroids, antibiotics and other drugs. Some health conditions may also require surgery.



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