Coughing is not always a cause for concern (such as when a cat is trying to pass a hairball), it is important to distinguish when your cat needs medical attention. Coughing is a natural reaction or reflex action that helps to eliminate the airways from – mucus, contaminants & foreign particles. But seeing your cat cough and wheeze can be very distressing.
Coughing is not a very common behavior in cats and sometimes it might indicate several health issues. Coughing in cats is mainly caused by – viral respiratory infections, feline asthma, hairballs, allergies, lung illness, heartworm, heart disease, trauma & poisoning.
In this article;- we will go over each of these reasons in depth as well as how to identify and treat them and you will also learn about how to keep your cat healthy and happy by preventing coughing.
1. What Causes a Cat to Cough
Well, coughing in cats can be caused by a variety of factors and circumstances which encompasses both minor and major health issues. To help you understand why your cat is coughing – here are some common reasons for coughing in cats listed below;-
1.1 Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections are one of the most prevalent reasons for cat coughing and these are viral or bacterial illnesses that affect the nose, throat & lungs of cats. Some of the most common respiratory infections in cats are – Feline Herpesvirus, Feline Calicivirus & Bordetella.
Medical situations surrounding cats with respiratory tract infections present themselves with symptoms ranging from sneezing to nasal discharge, an increase in body temperature, fatigue, as well as coughing fits.
Allergies are another major cause of cat coughing. But how? Allergies are an immune system reaction to chemicals that are normally innocuous to most cats but cause an inflammatory response in individuals and these compounds are known as allergens, allergens can be present in both the environment and diet.
For example – Flea saliva, grasses, plants & some specific foods are among the most common types of allergens for cats. When a cat is exposed to an allergen their airways become inflamed and irritated which results in coughing but coughing can also be caused by a sudden increase in mucus production in the lungs or throat.
We talk about signs of allergies – Itching, scratching, skin rashes, ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and coughing are all signs of allergies in cats.
1.3 Feline Asthma
Feline asthma is a long-term problem that affects cats’ breathing tubes. It makes it tough for them to breathe ’cause the tubes get narrow and tight. You know what? It’s kind of similar to human asthma! Shocking, right?
Anyway, there are a bunch of things that can set off feline asthma, like stress, exercise, cold air, smoke, or allergens. When cats have this asthma thing, they start wheezing, breathing real fast, breathing with their mouths open, and coughing. The coughing can happen when their lungs get all squeezed up or clogged with sticky stuff.
1.4 Heart Disease:
Heart disease is a condition that messes with the heart’s job of pumping blood properly throughout the whole body. It can be caused by different things like defects that a person is born with something called cardiomyopathy or even getting infected with heartworms.
When a cat has heart disease – it can cause some problems in the lungs and make it hard for them to exchange gasses leading to a lot of coughing. But Sometimes. coughing can happen because of too much fluid in the lungs or the space around them. Cats with heart disease might show signs like losing weight, not being as hungry as before, feeling weak & struggling to breathe.
1.5 Foreign Objects
Foreign objects are stuff that cats eat or breathe in that’s not supposed to be in their bodies like – bones, hairballs, grass bits & toys. These things can bother or harm their air pipes, causing them to get all swollen and cough a lot.
Sometimes coughing can happen when something blocks or pokes a hole in the tube that goes from their mouth to their stomach or in their windpipe. When cats have foreign objects in them, they might make weird sounds like gagging, choking, throwing up or pawing at their mouth.
Irritants are things that can bother the insides of a cat’s nose and throat, like smoke, strong smells or chemicals. These things can make their insides all swollen and make a lot of slimy stuff called mucus. When that happens cats might start coughing to try and get rid of it.
Sometimes coughing can happen when a cat has something like a sore throat or a lung problem called bronchitis or laryngitis. When cats have irritants inside them they might do things like – sneeze, have a runny nose, red eyes, or cough.
Parasites are like freeloaders that live on or inside other creatures and munch on their food or blood. Some of these freeloaders that can make cats cough are called lungworms. How? These worms invade a cat’s lungs and the little tubes called bronchi and cats can catch these parasites by gobbling up critters that are already infected or by sniffing around in poop.
When cats have lungworms they might cough a bunch, make funny wheezing noises, find it hard to breathe & even cough up bloody yucky stuff.
2. What Should I Do if My Cat is Coughing
If your cat is coughing then you must prioritize their health and take the appropriate steps as soon as possible. Allow me to explain a few basic things you may take if your kitty buddy is coughing:
2.1 Observe their Coughing
Take note of how much your cat coughs, how long each time & if any other things are happening at the same time. This info will surely help the vet.
2.2 Keep them Separate
If you have other cats then it is a good idea to keep the coughing cat away from the others. That way, if it’s something contagious it won’t spread.
2.3 Check for Problems Right Away
Make sure nothing is blocking your cat’s throat like something they ate or lots of yucky stuff and if you see something, don’t try to take it out yourself. You might end up hurting your cat – Just go straight to the vet.
2.4 Look for More Signs
See if your cat has any other signs of being sick like;- being tired all the time, not eating, having trouble breathing, sneezing & having a stuffy or runny nose. These things can also help the vet figure out what’s going on in their body.
2.5 Call the Vet
If your cat keeps coughing or has other problems then please do make an appointment with the vet. They will check your cat and will ask more questions & maybe do some tests to find out why they’re coughing.
2.6 Make a Peaceful Place
Keep your cat in a calm and cosy spot to help them feel better and please avoid smoky places, strong smells or things that might make their coughing worse.
2.7 Listen to the Vet
After you talk to the vet just do what they say. They might give medicine or maybe suggest changes in what your cat eats or do more tests to find out what’s happening.
Remember that it is super important to get help from a vet to find out why your cat is coughing and give it the right treatment.
3. Difference between Normal and Serious Coughing
There are several distinctions between normal coughing and serious coughing in cats and these distinctions include the duration, intensity, frequency, accompanying symptoms & overall impact on the health of a cat:
3.1 Normal Coughing
Cats typically experience occasional bouts of coughing, which is pretty normal and it happens when they get a little tickle or when they’re trying to get rid of a hairball. These coughs come and go on their own and they don’t really bother the cat too much.
They happen once in a while, don’t last too long, and don’t bring along any other strange stuff like trouble breathing, being tired, not eating, or some behavioral changes. Normal coughing in cats poses no significant concerns and does not interfere with their daily routines.
3.2 Serious Coughing
But then there’s the serious coughing – It’s different and when cats have serious coughing, it doesn’t stop and it keeps going and gets worse as time goes on. The coughing can be really strong and last a long time and it’s not just the coughing it comes with other problems too like;-
- Cats with serious coughing may have trouble breathing.
- They make wheezing sounds.
- They get tired too quickly.
- They might lose some weight because of loss of appetite.
- They might have a fever & have yucky stuff coming out of their nose.
- It makes them feel so uncomfortable that they don’t enjoy their regular activities and even playing with you.
Serious coughing in cats can mean they have something going on inside like an infection in their breathing organs, allergies, asthma, heart problems, lung troubles, and even tumors.
That’s why it’s really important to visit a skilled veterinary professional capable of identifying the root cause behind these relentless coughing episodes and prescribing precise treatment modalities.
4. When is the Right Time to Visit a Vet
If your cat is coughing then you should get medical assistance for your little furry friend from a veterinarian and especially if any of the following conditions exist:
4.1 Persistent Coughing
If your cat’s coughing continues for more than a day or two or if the frequency & intensity of the cough increases with time then it is advisable to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
4.2 Difficulty Breathing
If your cat’s coughing is accompanied by difficulty in breathing, wheezing, rapid or shallow breaths or any signs of respiratory distress then it might be a sign of a dangerous illness that needs emergency veterinarian assistance.
4.3 Other Concerning Symptoms
If your beloved feline displays any additional symptoms such as – a lack of energy. decreased appetite, weight loss, fever, nasal discharge, or any other unusual behaviour, It is highly advisable to promptly seek professional veterinary care.
4.4 Preexisting Health Conditions
Now if your cat is already having some health issues like a heart problem, a respiratory disease & a weak immune system then their coughing might be a bigger deal and it is a good idea to have a vet evaluate what’s going on with their health.
4.5 Contagious Environment
If you have more than one cat at home and one of them starts coughing, it’s a good call to seek advice from a vet because you don’t want any potential respiratory infections spreading around. Right?
Remember, that a veterinarian is the best person to assess your cat’s condition and provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment. And if you are unsure whether your cat’s cough warrants a visit to the vet then it is always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional guidance.
5. How to Prevent Cat from Coughing
You have heard the phrase, “Prevention is better than cure“. So, To help prevent your cat from coughing there are several measures you can take:
Always make sure your cat receives vaccinations regularly, especially for respiratory infections like Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) and feline Calicivirus (FCV). These vaccines can help in reducing the risk of your cat catching contagious illnesses that may cause coughing.
5.2 Regular Vet Checkups:
You should schedule regular visits to the veterinarian for keeping a note of your cat’s overall health and routine checkups can help in the identification of any respiratory conditions early and allow for treatment on time.
5.3 Clean and Dust-Free Surroundings
Don’t forget to clean your home regularly to remove dust & allergens that could trigger respiratory problems. Vacuuming, dusting, and using air purifiers can help in maintaining a clean and healthy indoor environment for your cat.
5.4 Don’t Smoke Inside
You must avoid smoking inside your home because secondhand smoke can have a bad effect on not only your health but the respiratory system of your cat which may increase the risk of coughing and other health problems as well.
5.5 Chemical Exposure
Keep your cat away from household chemicals because strong cleaning agents like – pesticides and other toxic substances may irritate its respiratory system so always store these products safely and you can also use pet-friendly alternatives when possible.
Now remember, while these preventive measures can help in the reduction of the risk of coughing in your cat, it is still very important to seek veterinary advice if your cat develops a persistent or worsening cough because only a veterinarian can assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment if required.
Coughing is a sign of trouble in your cat’s respiratory system and it can be caused by – hairballs, allergies, asthma, infections, or lung disease. You should watch and monitor the coughing of your cat and take him to the vet if the coughing does not go away or gets worse with time.
You should also keep your cat healthy and comfortable by brushing him, avoiding allergens, vaccinating him, deworming him, and feeding him well. Coughing in cats can be serious if ignored if you know the causes and treatments of coughing in cats you can help your cat live longer and happier.