What to Do If Your Cat is Coughing: Causes and Solutions

Is your furry friend coughing? While it may seem harmless, cat coughing can be a sign of respiratory problems such as feline asthma or airway irritation. Aspiration, or inhaling foreign objects, and irritation of the mucous membrane in the nasal cavity are common causes of cat coughing and retching. Understanding the underlying cause is crucial for proper treatment of pets with respiratory issues.

If your cat is coughing frequently or has other symptoms such as wheezing or shortness of breath, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. A vet can diagnose the problem and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. These symptoms could be signs of feline asthma, airway obstruction, pneumonia, or bordetella infection.

Don’t ignore your cat’s cough – it could be a sign of feline asthma, pneumonia, choking, or other serious illnesses. Stay informed about the causes and treatments for cat coughing by reading on.

Keywords: cat coughing, aspiration, mucous membrane, nasal cavity, air passages, respiratory tract, choking, foreign body Question: Why do cats cough? — Cats cough due to various reasons such as aspiration of foreign bodies into the air passages or respiratory tract, irritation of the mucous membrane in the nasal cavity, or even choking on something.

Common Causes of Cat Coughing: Foreign Objects, Viral Respiratory Infection, Fungal Lung Infection, Chronic Bronchitis (Also Known as Asthma)

Cats are prone to coughing due to various reasons, including choking. It can be a minor issue or a symptom of a severe underlying condition affecting their air passages, mucous membrane, or nasal cavity. As a cat owner, it is essential to know the common causes of coughing in cats and what you can do about it.

Foreign Objects

Foreign objects such as hairballs, plant material, and other debris can irritate your cat’s respiratory tract and cause coughing. Hairballs are one of the most common culprits of coughing in cats. If your cat is coughing frequently and producing hairballs, it is recommended to groom them regularly to prevent excessive hair ingestion. However, if your cat is choking on a foreign object or has fluid in their nasal cavity, seek immediate veterinary attention.

If your cat has ingested any foreign body that is causing persistent coughing or choking episodes, seek veterinary care immediately to avoid any damage to the fluid and air passages.

Viral Respiratory Infections

Viral respiratory infections can easily spread through the air passages of cats and result in symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, fever, coughing, and choking. Feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) are the most common viruses that can cause such infections.

If your cat is showing signs of respiratory infection such as frequent coughing or wheezing sounds while breathing, it may indicate a blockage in their air passages which can lead to choking. Consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Fungal Lung Infection

Fungal lung infections such as cryptococcosis and histoplasmosis can affect cats’ respiratory system leading to chronic coughs and choking. These infections are caused by inhaling fungal spores present in soil or bird droppings that can block the air passages.

Symptoms include lethargy, weight loss, decreased appetite along with persistent coughs. Treatment involves antifungal medications prescribed by veterinarians after proper diagnosis through blood tests or chest X-rays. Choking is not a common symptom but may occur in severe cases.

Chronic Bronchitis (Also Known as Asthma)

Chronic bronchitis, also known as feline asthma, is a common respiratory condition in cats that can cause inflammation of the airways leading to coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. This can sometimes result in choking.

If your cat has chronic bronchitis or asthma, it is important to manage their symptoms through medication prescribed by veterinarians. Inhalers or nebulizers can be used to administer medication directly into the lungs for better control of symptoms, including dry cough, wet cough, and choking.


Cats can develop allergies to various environmental factors such as pollen, dust mites, and cigarette smoke. Allergic reactions can cause coughing along with other symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes.

It is recommended to minimize exposure to allergens and consult with a veterinarian if your cat’s coughing persists despite efforts to reduce exposure.

Rare Causes of Cat Coughing: Laryngeal Paralysis, Heartworm Disease, Congestive Heart Failure

The most common causes of cat coughs are hairballs and respiratory infections, which can result in both dry cough and wet cough. However, there are rare causes that pet owners should be aware of as well.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis is a condition where the muscles that control the opening and closing of the throat fail to work properly. As a result, cats with this condition may have difficulty breathing and may also experience coughing fits. Other symptoms include noisy breathing and exercise intolerance.

While laryngeal paralysis is more commonly seen in dogs than in cats, felines can still develop this condition. It’s important to note that laryngeal paralysis can cause a life-threatening situation if left untreated, often leading to a dry cough.

If you suspect your cat has laryngeal paralysis, take them to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment options. Treatment may include surgery or medication depending on the severity of the case.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a serious illness caused by parasitic worms that live in a cat’s lungs and heart. While it’s more common in dogs than cats, felines can still become infected with heartworms if they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms of heartworm disease in cats include coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. If left untreated, heartworm disease can lead to lung disease or even death.

Prevention is key. Make sure your cat is on monthly preventive medication prescribed by your vet. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to heartworms or is showing symptoms of the disease, take them to the vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment options.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a condition where the heart is unable to pump blood effectively, leading to fluid buildup in the lungs and other organs. This can lead to coughing fits in cats, along with difficulty breathing and lethargy.

There are many possible causes of congestive heart failure in cats, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and thyroid disease. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the condition and may include medication or surgery.

Other illnesses that may be underlying causes of cat coughing include pneumonia, cancer, mycoplasma, and pleural effusion. If your cat is coughing persistently or showing any other concerning symptoms, take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment options.

Differentiating Between Choking and Coughing in Cats: Causes and What to Do in Each Situation

Cats are prone to coughing and choking, just like humans. While these two conditions may seem similar, they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments. Knowing the difference between them is crucial in determining the appropriate action to take.

Choking vs. Coughing: How Can You Tell the Difference?

Choking occurs when a foreign object or food gets stuck in your cat’s throat. It can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Some common signs of choking include:

  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Gagging
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing sounds while breathing
  • Blue gums or tongue

On the other hand, coughing is a reflex action that helps clear your cat’s airways of mucus, dust, or irritants. It is usually not a serious condition unless it persists for an extended period or is accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

What Causes Cats to Choke?

Cats can choke on various objects such as bones, toys, strings, rubber bands, and even hairballs. They may also choke on their food if they eat too quickly or have dental problems that make chewing difficult.

To prevent your cat from choking, ensure that you keep small objects out of their reach and supervise them while eating. Also, consider feeding them smaller portions several times a day instead of one large meal.

What to Do If Your Cat Is Choking

If you suspect that your cat is choking, act fast but calmly. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Open your cat’s mouth gently and try to remove the object with your fingers.
  2. If you cannot see the object or it is too far back, do not attempt to remove it as you may push it further down the throat. Instead, try to dislodge it by giving your cat a sharp blow between the shoulder blades or performing the Heimlich maneuver.
  3. If your cat is still choking, rush them to the vet immediately.

What Causes Cats to Cough?

Cats can cough for various reasons such as:

  • Respiratory infections such as feline herpesvirus and calicivirus
  • Allergies to dust, pollen, or smoke
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Lung cancer

To prevent your cat from coughing due to respiratory infections or allergies, ensure that their environment is clean and free of irritants. Also, keep up with their vaccinations and take them for regular check-ups.

What to Do If Your Cat Is Coughing

If your cat is coughing persistently or has other symptoms such as difficulty breathing or loss of appetite, take them to the vet immediately. The vet will perform a physical exam and may recommend additional tests such as blood work or X-rays.

Recognizing Cat Coughing Sounds: Types and Other Reasons for Coughing Sounds

Cats are prone to coughing, just like humans. However, it can be challenging to recognize the different types of coughing sounds in cats. Understanding the type of coughing sound is essential in identifying the reason for coughing and determining what to do if your cat is coughing.

Different types of coughing sounds in cats

Cats may produce different types of coughing sounds, including dry, hacking, moist, and wheezing sounds. Each sound indicates a unique underlying problem that requires specific treatment.

  • Dry Cough: This sound is sharp and repetitive but does not produce any phlegm. Dry coughs are often caused by allergies or asthma.
  • Hacking Cough: This sound is similar to a human’s throat-clearing sound. Hacking coughs indicate an irritation in the cat’s throat or airway.
  • Moist Cough: This sound produces phlegm or mucus and indicates a respiratory infection.
  • Wheezing Sound: A wheezing sound occurs when there is difficulty breathing due to narrowed airways. Wheezes suggest inflammation or swelling in the airways. In cats, this can manifest as cat coughs.

Wheezing sounds and possible reasons for cat coughing

Wheezes are high-pitched whistling sounds that occur during breathing. They can be heard when exhaling, inhaling, or both. Wheezes indicate narrowed air passages caused by various conditions such as:

  • Asthma: Asthma causes inflammation of the airways leading to wheezes. If your cat coughs, it may also be a sign of asthma.
  • Bronchitis: Bronchitis causes inflammation of bronchi (air passages), leading to wheezy breathing. It can also be associated with a persistent cat cough.
  • Heartworm disease: Heartworms can cause blockages in arteries leading to lungs resulting in wheezy breathing and cat cough.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions can cause swelling of the air passages resulting in wheezing and cat cough.

Nasal and nose-related reasons for cat coughing sounds

Nasal and nose-related problems can also cause coughing sounds. These conditions include:

  • Upper respiratory infections: Viruses or bacteria can cause upper respiratory infections that result in nasal congestion and discharge, sneezing, and coughing.
  • Feline herpesvirus (FHV): FHV is a common virus that causes flu-like symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and fever.
  • Foreign body obstruction: Cats may inhale small objects such as grass seeds or toys that get lodged in their nostrils causing irritation and cough.

Understanding the type of coughing sound to identify the reason for coughing

Identifying the type of cough sound is essential in determining what to do if your cat is coughing. If you hear a dry or hacking sound, it could indicate an allergy or asthma. Moist coughs suggest a respiratory infection while wheezes indicate narrowed air passages caused by various conditions like bronchitis, heartworm disease, allergies or asthma.

Treatment Options for Cat Coughing: Medications, Home Remedies, and Preventative Measures

Cats are prone to coughing, just like humans. If your cat is coughing, it could be due to a variety of reasons such as respiratory infections, allergies, or heartworms. Regardless of the cause of the coughing, it’s important to seek treatment options to alleviate their discomfort and prevent any further health complications.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available for cats that are coughing. These include medications prescribed by a veterinarian and home remedies that can be used at home.


If your cat is experiencing severe coughing fits or has an underlying condition that requires medical attention, your vet may prescribe medication. Some common medications used to treat cat coughing include:

  • Cough suppressants: These help alleviate symptoms by reducing the urge to cough.
  • Antibiotics: If the cause of the cough is bacterial in nature, antibiotics may be prescribed.
  • Steroids: These can help reduce inflammation in the airways and improve breathing.

It’s important to note that you should never give your cat human medication without consulting with a veterinarian first.

Home Remedies

In addition to medication prescribed by a vet, there are also some home remedies that can be used to ease your cat’s coughing symptoms. Some effective home remedies include:

  • Steam therapy: This involves bringing your cat into a steamy bathroom for 10-15 minutes to help loosen mucus in their airways.
  • Humidifiers: Adding moisture to the air can help soothe irritated airways.
  • Honey: A small amount of honey added to your cat’s food can have natural anti-inflammatory properties.

Preventative Measures

Prevention is always better than cure. There are several preventative measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of your cat developing a persistent cough.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm disease is a common cause of coughing in cats. Luckily, it’s preventable with regular medication prescribed by a veterinarian. It’s important to keep up with your cat’s heartworm prevention schedule to avoid any complications.

Environmental Factors

Cats can also develop coughs due to environmental factors such as air pollution or cigarette smoke. Keep your home clean and free of irritants, and avoid smoking around your pet.

Diet and Exercise

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can help boost your cat’s immune system and prevent respiratory infections that may lead to coughing.

When to Seek Veterinary Care for Your Cat’s Cough: Signs and Expectations at the Vet’s Office

As a cat owner, it can be concerning when your feline friend is coughing. While some coughing may be normal, persistent or severe coughing could indicate an underlying respiratory issue that requires veterinary attention.

Signs That Indicate Your Cat Needs Medical Attention for Respiratory Symptoms

Cats may develop respiratory symptoms such as coughing due to various reasons including infections, allergies, asthma or heart disease. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, it is essential to seek veterinary care:

  • Persistent or severe coughing lasting more than two days
  • Wheezing or labored breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

If you observe any of these symptoms in your pet, it is crucial to contact your veterinarian promptly.

Expectations During a Veterinary Visit for a Cat’s Coughing Condition

When you take your cat to the vet with respiratory symptoms like coughing; the veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet. They may also recommend diagnostic tests such as blood work or x-rays to identify any underlying conditions causing the symptoms.

The vet may ask questions about when you first noticed the symptoms and how long they have been occurring. They may also inquire about other factors such as changes in diet or environment that could contribute to respiratory issues.

Depending on their findings after examining your pet and reviewing diagnostic results if applicable; they will determine an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment options vary depending on the underlying condition causing the coughing.

Supportive Care That May Be Recommended by the Vet for Your Cat’s Cough

In some cases, supportive care may be recommended to help alleviate your cat’s coughing symptoms. This could include:

  • Providing humidifiers or steam treatments to help loosen mucus in the respiratory tract
  • Encouraging hydration by offering water more frequently or adding wet food to their diet
  • Administering medication such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids, or antibiotics if there is an infection present

It is essential to follow all instructions provided by your veterinarian and administer any prescribed medication as directed.

Time Frame for Improvement and Recovery from a Cat’s Coughing Illness

The time frame for improvement and recovery from a cat’s coughing illness varies depending on the underlying cause of the symptoms. Some cats may recover within a few days with appropriate treatment while others may require ongoing management of chronic conditions like asthma or heart disease.

If you notice any concerning symptoms in your cat, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly. Early intervention can help prevent complications and ensure that your pet receives appropriate treatment for their condition.

Success Stories of Treating Cat Coughing: Tips from Happy Pet Owners

Pet Parents Share Their Success Stories in Treating Cat Coughing

As pet parents, we all want to ensure the best possible health for our furry friends. However, when our cats start coughing, it can be a worrying and stressful time. But don’t worry; you’re not alone! Many pet parents have successfully treated their cats’ coughing and improved their quality of life.

One happy pet owner shared her story of treating her cat’s coughing by changing his diet. She noticed that her cat was coughing more frequently after meals, so she switched him to a grain-free diet with high-quality protein. After just a few weeks on the new diet, the coughing subsided significantly.

Another pet parent found success in using natural remedies like honey and ginger to soothe her cat’s throat. She mixed a small amount of honey with warm water and added finely grated ginger before giving it to her cat twice a day. Within days, the coughing decreased, and her cat seemed more comfortable.

Examples of Cases Where Pet Owners Were Able to Improve Their Pet’s Lives

One heartwarming story comes from a pet parent who adopted an older rescue cat with chronic respiratory issues. The cat had been living on the streets for years, exposed to various pollutants that led to severe coughing fits. After taking her new feline friend to the vet for tests, she was prescribed medication that helped alleviate the symptoms. With consistent care and attention from her loving owner, the cat’s health improved drastically over time.

Another example is when a pet parent noticed that their indoor cat was experiencing frequent bouts of coughing despite having no exposure to environmental pollutants or allergens. After conducting various tests at home using an air quality monitor and eliminating potential irritants like candles and cleaning products, they discovered that their HVAC system needed cleaning due to dust and debris buildup. After a thorough cleaning, the cat’s coughing ceased entirely.

Tips from Happy Pet Owners on How to Treat Cat Coughing

  • Consult with your veterinarian: If you notice your cat coughing frequently, it’s essential to take them to the vet for a checkup. They’ll be able to determine if there are any underlying health issues that need addressing.
  • Change their diet: As previously mentioned, some cats may benefit from a change in diet. Try switching to high-quality protein and grain-free options.
  • Use natural remedies: Honey and ginger can help soothe your cat’s throat naturally. However, always consult with your vet before trying any new remedies or treatments.
  • Eliminate potential irritants: Conduct tests at home using an air quality monitor and eliminate potential irritants like candles and cleaning products.

Results of Tests Conducted by Pet Owners to Determine the Cause of Coughing

Many pet owners have taken matters into their own hands by conducting various tests at home to determine the cause of their cat’s coughing. Some common tests include:

  • Air quality testing: Using an air quality monitor to detect pollutants or allergens in the home.

Taking Action If Your Cat is Coughing

In conclusion, if you notice your cat coughing, it’s essential to take action and determine the cause. Common causes include foreign objects, viral respiratory infections, fungal lung infections, and chronic bronchitis. Rare causes may include laryngeal paralysis, heartworm disease, and congestive heart failure. It’s crucial to differentiate between choking and coughing in cats as they require different treatments.

Recognizing cat coughing sounds can also help determine the cause of their cough. Treatment options for cat coughing include medications, home remedies, and preventative measures such as regular check-ups with a veterinarian.

If your cat’s cough persists or worsens despite home remedies or medication, it’s time to seek veterinary care. Signs that indicate it’s time for a vet visit include difficulty breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite or weight loss.

Remember that every cat is unique and may respond differently to treatment options. However, early detection and prompt treatment can prevent further complications.


Q1: Can I use human cough medicine on my cat?

A: No! Never give your cat human medication without consulting with a veterinarian first. Some medications can be toxic to cats.

Q2: Should I be concerned if my indoor-only cat is coughing?

A: Yes! Indoor-only cats are still susceptible to respiratory infections and other health issues that could cause them to cough.

Q3: Can second-hand smoke affect my cat’s respiratory system?

A: Yes! Second-hand smoke can irritate your cat’s respiratory system leading to chronic bronchitis or asthma-like symptoms.

Q4: How often should I take my cat for a check-up?

A: It would be best if you took your cat at least once a year for a check-up even if they seem healthy. Regular check-ups help detect underlying health issues early on.

Q5: Can I prevent my cat from coughing?

A: While you may not be able to prevent all causes of coughing, you can reduce the risk by keeping your cat’s environment clean and free of irritants. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help detect health issues early on.