What You Should Know About Cat Coughing

Cat coughing is in many ways like human coughing. There are different kinds of coughs, each of which can carry a slightly different meaning. Occasional coughing, like occasional sneezing, usually doesn't signify anything particularly serious. If your cat's coughing becomes frequent or persistent however, something definitely is wrong. It should be noted however, that a short period of persistent coughing may simply mean that the cat is trying to cough up a hairball. This is something most cats do from time to time, and seem to do quite well.

A cat can catch a cold of the flu just as we can, and persistent bouts of cat coughing and sneezing are typical symptoms. Unless you've had some experience in dealing with colds, the flu, or other upper respiratory ailments in cats, it's usually best to take the animal to the vet for treatment.


Bordetella is one of the more common causes of cat coughing. If you're boarding your cat for the first time, you may be surprised to discover your pet may not be welcome. The same may hold true at a doggy day care center, or at a pet grooming facility. The reason for the rejection is usually because your pet hasn't been vaccinated against Bordetella. This holds true for both dogs and cats. Bordetella is more commonly known as kennel cough. It is a bacterial infection which initially has the symptoms of a common cold, but may evolve into a feline version of whooping cough. The cat may develop a dry, hacking cough several days after being exposed to the bacteria, if it hasn't been vaccinated that is. Most of these facilities don't want to be held responsible for your pet's illness, which is why they may insist of proof of vaccination before allowing the animal in. Bordetella can be accompanied by more serious complications, just as the common cold can. It's bad enough if your cat contracts this infectious disease, but at least it can't transmit it to humans. We have our own version of whooping cough. Bordetella typically lasts 7 to 10 days if no complications develop, and then it simply goes away.

Asthma Or Bronchitis Is A Possibility

Kitty may also be suffering from asthma or bronchitis. Cats can have allergies just as we do. Airways can become swollen or inflamed, or become clogged by excessive amounts of mucous. If your cat appears to be having an asthmatic attack, or is suffering from bronchitis, it's imperative to get it to the vet as soon as possible, as the consequences of not doing so can be dire. Home remedies may or may not treat the disorder, or even suppress the cat's coughing, and treating a cat at home can be risky, unless you are following instructions for treatment that have been given to you by a veterinarian. If not treated, even if a cat survives an asthmatic attack, or has an ongoing problem with bronchitis, its lungs may be severely damaged.


We've already mentioned hairballs. This is something you can deal with in your home. When your cat is coughing up a hairball, things can appear to be much more serious than they actually are. After a few hairballs have been coughed up, you usually know what to expect, and you'll come to recognize the cough that goes along with the process of ejecting a hairball. Anti-hairball medication is readily available, and a number of commercial brands of cat food have ingredients that are designed to prevent hairballs from forming.


Heart worms, lung worms, and other parasites can also cause your cat to cough. There are medications available to deal with lung worms and parasites. These medications may cause the cat to cough as the parasites are being removed from the system.  It's important to note that medication for heart worm is a preventive medication. If your cat already has heart worms, the medication can make it very ill, and even result in its death. If a presence of heart worms, or any parasites are suspected, it's always best to let the vet deal with the matter. It's also important to note that while some cough medications designed for humans will work well for cats, other medications that are designed for humans can be very harmful to a cat. Here again, get the vet's advice before trying an over-the-counter medication on your pet.

There are times a cat's cough will simply go away in a short time. This is in fact usually the case. If it does go away not however, it may become self-perpetuating, as the throat may become dry and irritated, bringing on still more coughing. Anytime a cough appears to be persistent, it's a good idea to look for other symptoms as well, such as a runny nose, or a discharge from the eyes. Animals who are quite ill cannot tell you so directly, but they often act like they are ill, and often look like it too. If there are any symptoms that lead you to suspect that your cat's cough is not simply due to a minor throat irritation, take the cat to the vet, or at the very least call the vet's office and advise them of the symptoms you are observing.