Cat Coughing – Causes, Treatment and More

For all cat lovers, a cat’s purr is the sweetest voice on Earth. As Barbara L Diamond rightly said,” If there were to be a universal sound depicting peace, I would surely vote for the purr”. Likewise, there would be countless other admirers of cat sounds. However, what if this sweet voice gets interrupted by a periodic coughing sound? Of course, like humans, even cats cough, and it could be very disturbing as well as irritating to hear those coughing sounds.

However, it should be noted that their coughing is not always a matter to worry about, but sometimes it becomes absolutely necessary to give your cat medical aid. Want to know more about cat coughing, its reasons, treatments, and other important things about which you’re still not aware? Then, you have landed on the correct page! So, take a pen and paper to note and read along!

Why Does A Cat Cough?

What happens when your airways become clogged with smoke? What do you do when you feel dust particles in your throat? Obviously, cough! Similarly, cats also cough, as a reflex action, to remove irritants like dust, mucus, etc., out of their airways. It is a necessary process to clear the foreign particles from the airways and making breathing easier.

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It is true that coughing is a reflex action, but this doesn’t approve of the fact that it should always be ignored. Coughing can be a sign of various problems in your feline’s body, including some serious ones as well!

Cat Coughing Causes

Generally, coughing arises due to some irritation in the respiratory system. However, the causes are not as easy to figure out as you’re thinking. Other than problems in respiration, more causes can be attached to the same. In fact, as cats can’t communicate their problems through writing or speaking, it becomes all the more difficult for the owners to recognize the root cause easily. Well, here is the list of causes that would help you out to pick the right one for your furry. Have a look.

1. Hairballs

We all know that cats lick their coat in order to clean it. In this process, sometimes, a ball of hair collects in their stomach. This ‘ball of hair’ is referred to as ‘hairball’. To get rid of them, cats first give a nagging sound, which we all know is very irritating, and then finally puke the hairball out. Therefore, in this case, coughing could be a sign for you to get up and walk slightly away from your cat!

2. Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infection is a common viral infection seen in cats. It affects their airways and nose badly and is often marked by the sudden onset of coughing in cats.

To make yourself sure of the cause, see if your cat’s coughing is accompanied by sneezing, running nose, congestion, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, and retching or choking. The company of these symptoms would increase the probability of your cat suffering from an upper respiratory infection. Immediately take her to the vet if that’s the case!

3. Asthma

Yes! Even cats suffer from asthma, like humans. If your cat is coughing continuously for since long, then beware! Asthma can badly affect their immune system, due to which cats might feel inflammation. The inner lining of airways in cats might swell up and produce mucus, making them feel difficult to breathe. This also makes their airways more sensitive than ever. In the worst case, this situation can also be life-threatening for your lovely Kitty.

4. Heartworms

These are some thread-like worms whose symptoms are similar to that of asthma (to the extent of confusing you, maybe!). To give you another reason to hate mosquitos, heartworms spread from host to host through mosquito bites! Vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss, etc., are some common symptoms in cats suffering from heartworms.

5. Lung Cancer

Other than coughing, is your cat facing difficulty in breathing? Is she losing her weight suddenly? If that’s the case, then immediately look out! It must be a sign that your cat is suffering from lung cancer. Difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing, lethargy, coughing up blood, and sudden weight loss, when combined with coughing, boosts the idea of lung cancer in your cat. A proper medication by a veterinarian is the only rescue here.

6. Congestive Heart Failure

The function of the heart is to pump blood. What if the heart fails to pump blood as it should do! This happens in congestive heart failure. Even in cats, this illness happens because of the thickening of the heart’s walls or high blood pressure, birth defects, or thyroid disease. Due to the failure of the heart to circulate blood properly, the fluid gets back up in the lungs. This makes the cat drastically cough, feel short of breath, lose weight and appetite rapidly, and they can even- die!

When To Get Concerned?

1. Your Cat Coughs With No Hairball

If your cat is coughing with no hairball, then there might be something serious about it. This is a sign that coughing is occurring due to other problems, including feline asthma, respiratory infections, respiratory tract diseases, parasitic conditions, etc.

If your cat is coughing consistently, like few times a week or so, then it can be a sign of asthma! In addition, your cat might also crouch low to the ground with the neck facing upwards, trying to fill in as much air as possible while coughing. If ignored, it can turn out to be fatal for your cat.

2. Frequent Coughing By Your Cat

Have you ever noticed how frequently your cat coughs? If your cat is coughing very frequently and continues to do so for many days, then you need to take her to the vet. If the situation is worsening day by day, then prompt action from your side is necessary. A little bit of negligence by the owner might cost a huge amount in the future. These frequent coughing could be a result of asthma or respiratory infection.

3. Your Cat Has A Wet Cough

If your cat produces a wet cough while coughing, phlegm or sputum, a mucousy substance, would also come out with it. You can identify such a cough with a moist sound, which is capable of catching immediate attention. To scare you more, this can be the indication of a lower respiratory problem.

4. Wheezing Noise Comes In Between Coughs

Does your cat produce wheezing sounds in between coughs? Alert! It could be because of feline asthma. Actually, a wheezing sound arises when your cat is unable to receive enough oxygen. This could be because of the contraction of air passages or/and swelling due to inflammation. The wheezing sound comes from lower airways in such a case.

5. Your Cat is Sneezing and Coughing

In some cases, coughing is accompanied by sneezing, so it makes the situation more troublesome. This horrific combination may point towards serious illnesses like respiratory infections or viral.

6. Your Cat Begins to Lose Weight

Is your cat losing her weight suddenly? Has she reduced her appetite for no reason? Other than coughing, if your cat has brought down her appetite and is losing a lot of weight in a few days, then you need to pay attention. These are the symptoms of parasites or infection, which shouldn’t be given a blind eye.

7. Your Cat Has Recurrent Cough

If your cat’s cough keeps on re-occurring, then a veterinarian’s aid is necessary. Only a vet can tell the correct reason, which is causing the cough to return back again and again. Most of the time, it happens because of allergies or feline asthma, which has the potential to catch hold of your cat for a lifetime if not managed properly.

8. Bluish Tinge in Your Cat’s Gums And Tongue

While coughing, if your cat is showing a bluish or greyish tinge in the tongue or gums, then this could be an indication that your poor Kitty is unable to get enough oxygen. Take her to the vet immediately, even if she’s showing such signs for the first time.

Treating Your Cat’s Coughing

There are different treatments for different situations in cat coughing. If your cat was coughing due to a hairball, then it might stop immediately after her puking out of the same. However, in other situations, treatment by a veterinarian is a must.

Sometimes, owners take the onus of finding the root cause behind their feline’s coughing. They end up giving their own treatments and, finally, messing up with her health. Take a note that always consults a vet before attempting to treat your cat yourself. A vet should be approached immediately after noticing peculiar behavioral changes in your cat. Don’t try to jump directly to the treatment before diagnosing your cat because treatment without diagnosis might worsen the health of your dear feline.

Treating Cat Asthma And Respiratory Infections

You must be wondering that out of all illnesses, feline asthma and respiratory infections look almost incurable. However, fortunately, both of these illnesses are curable. Specifically, for Feline asthma, there are two types of prescribed medications: corticosteroids for treating inflammation and bronchodilators for expanding airways. To relax you more, also, these medications can be inhaled, taken orally, and even injected; however, inhaled medication is the one most preferred.

They must have high chances of side effects? Not really. Unlike systemic steroids, inhaled steroids aren’t metabolized by the body, and they directly target the lungs, reducing the chances of side effects. Furthermore, Inhaler with an aerosol chamber is the most effective choice for inhaled medications.

Can anti-histamines be used to treat asthma and bronchitis? There’s no evidence as such.

Preparations Before Visiting A Vet

Be ready to answer the bombardment of questions! If your cat is sneezing and coughing, finding difficulty breathing, losing a lot of weight suddenly, or maybe reducing her appetite, inform your vet about the slightest of information. Don’t assume any detail to be useless by yourself; leave it to the vet.

If you’re still unsure of noting everything, then record a video of your cat coughing at home and show it to the vet. All the details are necessary for the vet to diagnose your cat correctly. You should be ready with the answers of questions like, ‘is the cough wet or dry?’, ‘how frequently does coughing occur?’, ‘does your cat go outside?’, etc. Finally, speak what you’ve noticed and don’t cook the symptoms by yourself.

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Generally, cat coughing is not a serious problem and is rather very common. However, sometimes it can be very serious and, in fact, is capable of taking your cat’s life! Always take a veterinarian’s advice before jumping to treat your feline by yourself. Just one wrong step of yours may cost your Kitty’s life. Therefore, it is necessary that you meet the vet even when your cat isn’t coughing very frequently.

Don’t ignore small behavioral changes like reducing your cat’s appetite, physical activity, etc., and increase in breathlessness, recurrence of coughing, etc. Please take a note of them and inform them all to the vet. Last but not least, be a cautious and concerned owner to have a healthy and happy feline!