Why does your cat appear to cough?


Cats are known for their grace, agility, and independence. However, they are also prone to various health issues, including coughing. Cat coughing can be a sign of a minor irritation or a symptom of a serious health problem. In this article, we will explore the common causes of cat coughing, how to identify them, and when to seek veterinary care.

Understanding Feline Coughing

Coughing is a natural reflex that helps clear the airways of mucus, dust, and other irritants. When a cat coughs, it is usually a sign that something is irritating its respiratory system. However, not all coughs are the same. A dry, hacking cough suggests a different problem than a productive cough that brings up mucus.

Common Causes of Cat Coughing

There are many potential causes of cat coughing, ranging from minor to severe. Some of the most common causes include respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, heart and lung diseases, foreign objects, and irritants. Each of these causes requires a different approach to treatment, so it is important to identify the underlying cause before taking any action.

Respiratory Infections in Cats

Respiratory infections, such as feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, and chlamydia, are a common cause of coughing in cats. These infections can cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and wheezing, in addition to coughing. Treatment for respiratory infections typically involves antibiotics, antiviral drugs, or supportive care.

Allergies and Asthma in Cats

Allergies and asthma can also cause coughing in cats. Common allergens include pollen, dust, mold, and certain foods. Cats with asthma may cough, wheeze, and have difficulty breathing. Treatment for allergies and asthma may involve antihistamines, corticosteroids, or immunotherapy.

Heart and Lung Diseases in Cats

Heart and lung diseases, such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can also cause coughing in cats. These conditions can cause fluid buildup in the lungs, making it difficult for cats to breathe. Treatment for heart and lung diseases may involve medication, oxygen therapy, or surgery.

Foreign Objects and Irritants

Foreign objects and irritants, such as hairballs, dust, and smoke, can also cause coughing in cats. Cats may cough to try to dislodge these objects or clear their airways. Treatment for foreign objects and irritants may involve removing the object or reducing exposure to the irritant.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease that can cause coughing, among other symptoms. FIP is a serious and often fatal disease that affects the immune system and internal organs. Treatment for FIP is limited, and supportive care is usually the only option.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

If your cat is coughing, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. A veterinarian can perform a physical exam, run diagnostic tests, and recommend treatment options based on the underlying cause of the cough. Delaying treatment can lead to serious complications and even death.

Preventing Cat Coughing

Preventing cat coughing involves reducing exposure to potential irritants, keeping your cat up-to-date on vaccinations, and providing regular veterinary care. It is also important to maintain good hygiene and keep your cat’s living environment clean and free of dust, mold, and other allergens. By taking these preventative measures, you can help keep your cat healthy and free from coughing.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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