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Why Does My Cat Cough? Common Causes and Treatment



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If you’re a cat owner, you know that cats can make a variety of funny noises. However, when you hear your furry friend cough it’s a cause for concern. While occasional coughing is normal, persistent coughing can be a sign of an underlying health issue. That’s why many cat owners ask the question “why does my cat cough?”

Cats cough for a variety of reasons, including hairballs, allergies, and respiratory issues. However, if your cat is coughing persistently, it may indicate a more serious condition like asthma, heart disease, or even cancer. A vet can diagnose the cause of your cat’s cough and provide appropriate treatment. It’s important not to ignore a persistent cough or attempt to treat your cat’s condition on your own.

In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why cats cough and the symptoms that may indicate a more serious health issue. We’ll also provide tips for reducing the risk of coughing in your cat and when to contact a veterinarian. So, if you’re wondering “why does my cat cough?” keep reading to learn more.

Key Takeaway: If your cat is coughing persistently, it may indicate an underlying health issue that should not be ignored. Cats can cough for various reasons, including hairballs, allergies, respiratory infections, heart and lung problems, intestinal issues, foreign objects, and worms or parasites. Diagnosing the cause of your cat’s cough may require a physical examination, diagnostic tests, feline respiratory panels, heartworm testing, or bronchoscopy. Treatment options for cat coughing may include antibiotics, bronchodilators, steroids, cough suppressants, or oxygen therapy, depending on the underlying cause. Preventive measures such as keeping your cat’s environment clean, vaccinations, balanced diet, hydration, avoiding secondhand smoke, and regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help reduce the risk of coughing in cats.

Common Causes of Coughing in Cats

As cat owners, it is normal to be concerned when our furry friends start coughing. Coughing in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from mild to severe. Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of coughing in cats:

  • Feline Asthma: Feline asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation of the airways in cats. This condition is similar to human asthma and can be triggered by allergens, stress, or exercise.
  • Heartworm Disease: Heartworm disease is caused by the parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis, and it is transmitted to cats through mosquito bites. Coughing is a common symptom of heartworm disease in cats and it occurs as a result of the worms blocking the blood vessels in the lungs.
  • Upper Respiratory Infections (URI): Upper respiratory infections are a common cause of coughing in cats, especially in kittens and cats with weakened immune systems. URI is caused by a variety of viral and bacterial infections and it can lead to symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.
  • Allergies: Just like us humans, cats can also have allergies that can trigger coughing. Allergies can be caused by external factors such as pollen, dust, or smoke, and internal factors such as food or medication.
  • Foreign Object: Coughing can also be a sign that your cat has swallowed a foreign object, such as a toy or a piece of string. When a foreign object lodges in the throat, it can cause coughing, gagging, and difficulty breathing.

In conclusion, if your cat is coughing, it is important to take note of any other associated symptoms and consult your veterinarian. With proper diagnosis and treatment, your cat can recover from any of the above-mentioned causes of coughing.

Respiratory Infections and Allergies

When trying to understand why does my cat cough, one possibility is that your cat may be suffering from a respiratory infection or allergy. These issues can cause coughing, sneezing, and other symptoms. If you suspect that your cat may have a respiratory infection or allergy, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Respiratory infections in cats are typically caused by viruses or bacteria. Some of the common culprits include feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, and chlamydia. Allergies, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of things including dust, pollen, and certain types of food. In some cases, allergies can also be caused by cigarette smoke, which can irritate your cat’s respiratory system.

Symptoms of a respiratory infection or allergy in cats can include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to take them to the vet for an exam. Your vet may recommend medications to help manage the symptoms and treat the underlying infection or allergy.

Preventing respiratory infections and allergies in cats can be difficult, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your cat’s risk. Keeping your home clean, especially in areas where your cat spends a lot of time, can help reduce dust and other allergens. Additionally, keeping your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations can help prevent some types of respiratory infections.

In conclusion, if you are asking “why does my cat cough?” it may be due to a respiratory infection or allergy. These issues can cause a variety of symptoms and should be addressed by a veterinarian as soon as possible. By taking steps to reduce your cat’s risk of infection or exposure to allergens, you can help keep them healthy and happy for years to come.

Heart and Lung Problems

When asking ourselves “why does my cat cough,” it’s essential to consider heart and lung problems as potential reasons for the coughing.

Heart problems, such as congestive heart failure, can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs, which can cause coughing. Cats with heart issues may also display other symptoms like difficulty breathing, lethargy, and a decreased appetite. If you suspect your cat has heart issues, it’s essential to speak with your veterinarian promptly. They may recommend medications or lifestyle changes to help manage your cat’s condition.

Lung problems can also cause cats to cough. Feline asthma is a common lung issue, and it can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Other possible lung problems that may cause coughing in cats include pneumonia and pulmonary edema. It’s crucial to note that lung problems can be a medical emergency, and prompt veterinary intervention is critical to ensure your cat receives the appropriate treatment.

In some cases, heart and lung problems may occur simultaneously, making it difficult to determine the root cause of your cat’s coughing. A thorough examination by a veterinarian, including x-rays and diagnostic testing, can help determine the underlying cause of your cat’s coughing.

Overall, heart and lung problems are potential causes of coughing in cats. If you suspect your cat may have one of these issues, please speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Foreign Objects and Obstructions

If you’re asking yourself, “why does my cat cough”, one possible answer may involve foreign objects and obstructions. Cats, being curious creatures, can easily swallow small objects or accidentally inhale them while playing or eating. These foreign objects can get stuck in their throat, resulting in coughing or hacking.

Some common examples of foreign objects or obstructions that may cause your cat to cough include:

  • Small toys or parts of toys
  • Hairballs
  • Grass, plants, or other outdoor materials
  • Household items, such as buttons, string, or rubber bands

If you suspect that your cat has swallowed or inhaled a foreign object, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. In certain cases, these objects can cause serious health issues or even become life-threatening.

At the vet, the doctor may perform X-rays or other diagnostic tests to locate the foreign object and determine the best course of action. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the object.

In addition to foreign objects, obstructions can also cause your cat to cough. Obstructions can include tumors or growths in the throat or respiratory tract, or other structural abnormalities. Again, a visit to the veterinarian is the best way to determine what may be causing your cat’s cough.

Overall, if you’re wondering why your cat is coughing, it’s important to consider if they may have swallowed or inhaled a foreign object. Additionally, a veterinarian can help diagnose and treat any obstructions that may be causing coughing or other respiratory issues.

Intestinal Issues and Vomiting

Sometimes, coughing in cats can be caused by underlying intestinal issues. Gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and ulcers can cause coughing. Additionally, cats with hairballs or other obstructions in their digestive tract may experience vomiting or dry heaving, which can also cause coughing.

One possible cause of coughing in cats is hairballs. Hairballs form when a cat ingests excessive amounts of hair while grooming itself. The hair accumulates in the stomach and forms a ball that can cause irritation and coughing. If the hairball is too large to pass through the digestive tract, it may have to be surgically removed.

Another potential cause of intestinal issues and vomiting in cats is feline inflammatory bowel disease. This condition is caused by the inflammation of the intestinal lining and can cause chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Treatment for this condition usually involves a combination of dietary modification and medication.

Cats with ulcers can also experience coughing. Ulcers are erosions in the stomach lining caused by the overproduction of stomach acid. If left untreated, ulcers can cause pain, vomiting, and weight loss in cats. Treatment for this condition usually involves medication to reduce the production of stomach acid and protect the stomach lining.

If you notice your cat coughing, gagging, or vomiting frequently, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for an examination. They can help determine the underlying cause of these symptoms and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Worms and Parasites

Another possible reason for why does my cat cough may be worms and parasites. Certain parasites like heartworms may migrate into a cat’s lungs, leading to coughing as a symptom. Other types of worms may also cause coughing, such as lungworms, which cause coughing when they migrate to the lungs.

Cats can get worms and parasites from a variety of factors such as fleas, eating infected prey, or coming in contact with contaminated soil. Prevention and treatment options for worms and parasites include regular deworming, avoiding exposure to contaminated areas, and using preventative treatments for fleas and other parasites.

If you suspect your cat is coughing due to worms or parasites, it’s important to bring them to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Deworming medications may be prescribed to eliminate the worms and parasites, and preventative measures can also be discussed to reduce the risk of reinfestation.

In addition to coughing, other symptoms of worms and parasites in cats may include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and changes in appetite. Regular vet checkups and preventative care can help identify and address any underlying health issues that may be causing coughing or other symptoms in your cat.

Diagnosing Your Cat’s Cough

Determining the cause of your cat’s cough can be a complicated process and often requires a visit to the veterinarian. Here are a few things to consider when diagnosing your cat’s cough:

  1. Physical Examination: During a veterinary exam, your veterinarian will listen to your cat’s lungs and heart, check for fever, and examine your cat’s mouth and throat for any abnormalities. They will also feel your cat’s lymph nodes, kidneys, and liver to check for any swelling or lumps.
  2. Diagnostic Tests: Depending on the results of the physical exam, your veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests such as blood work, urinalysis, or imaging studies like x-rays or ultrasounds. These tests can help identify underlying medical issues that may be causing your cat’s cough.
  3. Feline Respiratory Panels: If your cat’s cough is suspected to be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, your veterinarian may recommend a feline respiratory panel. This test can identify a variety of common respiratory infections in cats, including feline herpesvirus and Chlamydophila felis.
  4. Heartworm Testing: Heartworm disease can cause respiratory symptoms in cats, and so your veterinarian may recommend a heartworm test as part of the diagnostic process.
  5. Bronchoscopy: In some cases, a bronchoscopy may be necessary to determine the cause of your cat’s cough. This involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end into your cat’s airway to look for abnormalities or collect tissue samples for further testing.

It is important to note that persistent coughing in cats can be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. If your cat is coughing, it is essential that you bring them to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. With proper diagnosis and treatment, your furry friend can get the relief they need and return to their happy, healthy self.

Treatment Options for Cat Coughing

If your cat is coughing, it’s important to bring them to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Once the underlying condition causing the cough is identified, there are several treatment options available. Here are some of the most common treatments for cat coughing:

1. Antibiotics

Antibiotics are frequently used to treat respiratory infections in cats. The specific type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the underlying cause of the cough.

2. Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are medications that help to relax the muscles in the airways, making it easier for your cat to breathe. These are often prescribed for cats with asthma.

3. Steroids

Steroids are anti-inflammatory medications that can help reduce swelling in the airways. They are often prescribed for cats with chronic or severe coughing.

4. Cough Suppressants

Cough suppressants can help reduce the frequency and severity of coughing episodes. However, it is important to note that coughing is a reflex designed to clear the airways, so the use of cough suppressants should be carefully considered and closely monitored.

5. Oxygen Therapy

In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend oxygen therapy to help your cat breathe more easily. This may involve placing your cat in an oxygen chamber or providing supplemental oxygen through a mask.

Overall, the treatment options for cat coughing will depend on the underlying cause of the cough and the severity of the symptoms. In addition to medication, your veterinarian may also recommend changes to your cat’s diet or environment to help manage the condition. It’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your cat.

Preventing Coughing in Cats

Preventing coughing in cats is crucial to their overall health and well-being. It’s important to identify the underlying cause of your cat’s cough and take steps to prevent it from recurring. Here are some measures that can help prevent coughing in cats:

  1. Keeping your cat’s environment clean and dust-free can minimize the risk of respiratory infections and other respiratory issues that can cause coughing.
  2. Vaccinating your cat can prevent respiratory infections caused by certain viruses, such as feline herpesvirus and calicivirus.
  3. Feeding your cat a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs can help boost their immune system, making them less susceptible to infections that can cause coughing.
  4. Providing plenty of fresh water can help keep your cat hydrated, which is essential for maintaining healthy respiratory function.
  5. Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke can help minimize respiratory irritants that can lead to coughing and other respiratory issues.
  6. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify and treat any underlying health issues that may be causing your cat’s cough.

It’s important to note that while preventing coughing in cats is essential, it’s equally important to seek veterinary attention if your cat is coughing persistently or if their cough is accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever, or loss of appetite.

In summary, prevention is key to keeping your cat healthy and avoiding coughing episodes. By taking proactive steps to maintain your cat’s health, you can minimize the risk of coughing and ensure your feline friend stays happy and healthy.
We hope this article has provided you with valuable information on why cats cough. As we explored earlier, there are several reasons why your cat may be coughing, ranging from hairballs to more serious conditions such as feline asthma or lung infections.

By understanding the symptoms and causes of coughing in cats, you can take the necessary steps to prevent and treat this common health issue. Remember, regular check-ups with your veterinarian are crucial for maintaining your cat’s overall health and wellbeing.

In summary, if you’re wondering “why does my cat cough?”, the answer isn’t always straightforward. However, with careful observation, proper care, and timely veterinary intervention, you can help your feline companion live a happy and healthy life.

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