Cat coughing is a common health issue affecting felines of any age or breed. It is a reflex action that helps clear the airways of irritants, but persistent or severe coughing can indicate an underlying health problem that requires attention.
Why is My Cat Coughing
There are many possible causes of cat coughing, ranging from minor issues like hairballs and dust allergies to more serious conditions such as respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung tumors? In some cases, coughing may also be a symptom of a viral or bacterial infection.
The symptoms of cat coughing can vary depending on the underlying cause. Some cats may have a dry, hacking cough, while others may have a wet, productive cough accompanied by phlegm. Other symptoms to watch out for include wheezing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss.
If you notice any cat coughing, taking your feline to a veterinarian for a thorough examination is important. Early detection and treatment can prevent the condition from becoming more serious and help your cat recover quickly. Treatment for cat coughing may include medication, dietary changes, or even surgery in severe cases.
Types Of Cat Coughing and the Difference Between Them
Coughing is a reflex action that helps clear the airways of irritants. In cats, coughing can be caused by various underlying health issues and present in different ways. Understanding the different types of cat coughing and their underlying causes is important in helping to identify and treat the problem.
- A hacking sound characterizes a dry cough without any phlegm or mucus. This type of cough can be caused by respiratory infections such as feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus, asthma, or allergies. In some cases, a dry cough may also be a symptom of heart disease.
- A wet cough, on the other hand, is characterized by a productive sound with phlegm or mucus. This type of cough can be caused by respiratory infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, lung cancer, or heart disease. Wet coughs are more serious than dry coughs and require immediate veterinary attention.
- A gagging cough is characterized by a sound that resembles choking or retching. This type of cough can be caused by hairballs or foreign objects in the throat or lungs. Gagging coughs can also be a symptom of heart disease or respiratory infections.
- A honking cough is characterized by a sound that resembles a goose honk. This type of cough can be caused by a collapsing trachea, which is a condition where the cartilage rings in the trachea collapse and narrow the airway. Honking coughs can also be a symptom of heart disease.
- Wheezing is characterized by a high-pitched whistling sound when the cat breathes. This can be a symptom of asthma, allergies, or heart disease.
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Difference Between the Types Of Cat Coughing
Differences between the different types of cat coughing and the underlying health issues they may indicate:
|Type of Cough||Characteristics||Underlying Health Issues|
|Dry Cough||Hacking sound without phlegm or mucus||Respiratory infections (e.g. feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus), asthma, allergies, heart disease|
|Wet Cough||Productive sound with phlegm or mucus||Respiratory infections (e.g. pneumonia, bronchitis), lung cancer, heart disease|
|Gagging Cough||Sound resembling choking or retching||Hairballs, foreign objects in the throat or lungs, heart disease, respiratory infections|
|Honking Cough||Sound resembling a goose honk||Collapsing trachea, heart disease|
|Wheezing||High-pitched whistling sound when breathing||Asthma, allergies, heart disease|
As you can see, the different types of coughs can indicate a wide range of underlying health issues. Suppose your cat is coughing persistently or has other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing. In that case, seeking veterinary attention immediately is important to identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.
Causes Of Cat Coughing and Appropriate Treatment
Coughing in cats is a common symptom with various underlying causes. Understanding the different causes of cat coughing can help pet owners identify potential issues and seek appropriate treatment. Here are some of the most common causes of cat coughing:
- Respiratory infections such as feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus can cause coughing in cats. These infections are highly contagious and can be spread through contact with infected cats or contaminated objects. Other respiratory infections that can cause coughing in cats include pneumonia and bronchitis.
- Like humans, cats can be allergic to various substances, including pollen, dust, and certain foods. Allergic reactions can cause inflammation in the airways, leading to coughing and other respiratory symptoms. In some cases, cats may develop asthma as a result of allergies.
- Heart disease can also cause coughing in cats. When the heart is not functioning properly, fluid can build up in the lungs, causing coughing and difficulty breathing. This type of cough is often accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite.
- Hairballs are a common cause of coughing in cats. When cats groom themselves, they swallow hair, which can accumulate in the stomach and form a hairball. Coughing is the body’s way of trying to expel the hairball. Sometimes, hairballs can become lodged in the throat or intestines, requiring medical intervention.
- Cats are curious animals and may occasionally ingest foreign objects, such as small toys or pieces of string. These objects can become lodged in the throat or lungs, causing coughing and other respiratory symptoms.
- Collapsing trachea is a condition in which the cartilage rings in the trachea collapse, narrowing the airway and making it difficult for the cat to breathe. This can cause coughing and honking sounds when breathing.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Cat Coughing
If your cat is coughing persistently or has other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing, it’s important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. A veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam and may recommend diagnostic tests to identify the underlying cause of the coughing.
Diagnostic Process for Cat Coughing
- Physical Exam: A veterinarian will examine your cat’s lungs, heart, and airways for any signs of abnormalities such as wheezing, crackling sounds, or fluid buildup. They may also examine your cat’s mouth and throat for signs of foreign objects or hairballs.
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can help identify any underlying infections or other health conditions causing the coughing.
- Imaging Studies: Imaging studies such as X-rays or ultrasounds can help identify lung, heart, or airways abnormalities.
- Bronchoscopy: In some cases, a veterinarian may recommend a bronchoscopy, which involves inserting a small camera into the airways to examine them more closely.
Treatment Options for Cat Coughing
- The type of medication prescribed will depend on the underlying cause of the coughing. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections, while antihistamines or corticosteroids may be used to treat allergies. Bronchodilators may be used to open up the airways in cases of asthma or bronchitis.
- Sometimes, lifestyle changes may be recommended to manage coughing. This could include using a humidifier to help ease respiratory symptoms or reducing exposure to allergens such as dust or pollen.
- In rare cases, surgery may be required to remove foreign objects or correct structural abnormalities in the airways or lungs.
- Cats with persistent coughing may require supportive care such as oxygen therapy or intravenous fluids to help manage their symptoms.
How to Prevent Cat Coughing
As a cat owner, you want to ensure your feline friend stays healthy and happy. One way to do this is by preventing the cat from coughing in the first place. While some causes of coughing cat may be difficult to prevent, you can take steps to reduce your cat’s risk of developing a cough.
Keep Your Cat Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
- Vaccinations can protect your cat against various infectious diseases, including those that can cause respiratory infections. Keeping your cat up-to-date on their vaccinations can help prevent illnesses that may lead to coughing.
Avoid Exposure to Potential Respiratory Irritants
- Cigarette smoke, air fresheners, and cleaning products can all be respiratory irritants that trigger coughing in cats. Avoid exposing your cat to these irritants whenever possible. Additionally, ensure your cat can access clean, fresh air by providing plenty of ventilation.
Maintain Good Overall Health
- A healthy diet and regular exercise can help keep your cat’s immune system strong and reduce its risk of developing respiratory infections. Ensure your cat eats a well-balanced diet and gets enough exercise to maintain good overall health.
Practice Good Hygiene
- Regularly cleaning your cat’s litter box and washing their food and water bowls can help prevent the spread of germs and reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
Keep Your Home Clean
- Regularly cleaning your home can help reduce the amount of dust and other allergens that may trigger coughing in cats. Vacuuming carpets and upholstery, dusting surfaces, and washing bedding can all help keep your home clean and reduce your cat’s risk of developing respiratory issues.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cat Coughing
How can I help my coughing cat at home?
If your cat is coughing occasionally and is otherwise healthy, you can try some home remedies such as steam therapy, humidifiers, or feeding moist food to ease the cough. However, if the cough persists or your cat shows other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing, you should take it to the vet.
Why is my cat coughing and sneezing?
Coughing and sneezing are common symptoms of respiratory infections in cats, such as feline herpesvirus, calicivirus, or chlamydia. Other possible causes include allergies, asthma, or foreign objects in the nasal passages. If your cat is coughing and sneezing frequently, it’s best to take it to a vet for a diagnosis and treatment.
What does a cat coughing sound like?
A cat’s coughing sound can vary depending on the underlying cause, but it may sound like a dry hacking or hacking with a gagging or retching sound.
How do I know if my cat is coughing due to hairballs?
Coughing up hairballs is common in cats, but it typically involves gagging or retching followed by vomiting a hairball. If your cat is coughing persistently but not producing a hairball, it’s unlikely to be the cause.
Can cats cough like a duck?
Cats can make sounds, including coughing, that resemble other animals, such as a duck. However, if your cat is coughing or showing other symptoms, it’s best to take it to a vet for a proper diagnosis.
Why is my cat coughing but not producing a hairball?
Coughing without producing a hairball can be a sign of several respiratory conditions in cats, such as asthma, bronchitis, or infections. It’s best to take your cat to a veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment.
Why does my cat cough with its tongue out?
Coughing with the tongue out may indicate that your cat is having difficulty breathing or is trying to clear something from its throat. It’s best to take your cat to a veterinarian for an examination.
Can cats get kennel cough from dogs?
While kennel cough is more commonly associated with dogs, cats can get infected with the same bacteria or virus that causes the illness. However, it’s less common for cats to get kennel cough from dogs, as they are less likely to be in close contact with each other.
What could be causing my cat to cough along with other symptoms?
Coughing and other symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal discharge, or fever, could indicate a respiratory infection, allergies, or asthma in cats. Taking your cat to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment is best.
What should I do if my cat is coughing up blood?
Coughing up blood, also known as hemoptysis, is a serious symptom that requires immediate veterinary attention. It may indicate various conditions, such as infections, tumors, or bleeding disorders.
Why is my cat coughing but not sick?
Cats may cough occasionally due to various reasons such as hairballs, irritants, or changes in temperature or humidity. However, if the coughing persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s best to take your cat to a veterinarian for a checkup.
Why is my cat frequently coughing?
Frequent coughing in cats may indicate several conditions, such as respiratory infections, allergies, asthma, heartworm disease, or heart conditions. It’s best to take your cat to a veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment.
Why does my cat keep coughing like he’s choking?
Coughing like choking could indicate that your cat is trying to clear something from its throat, such as a hairball or foreign object. However, if the coughing persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s best to take your cat to a veterinarian for a checkup.
How can I stop my cat from coughing at night?
If your cat is coughing at night, it’s best to take it to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, you can try some home remedies such as steam therapy, humidifiers, or feeding moist food to ease the cough. However, these remedies may not be effective for all cats, so following your vet’s advice is important.
Cat coughing can indicate various underlying health issues, from respiratory infections to heart disease. Understanding the different types of coughs, their causes, and how to diagnose and treat them can help you ensure your feline friend stays healthy and happy.
Following preventative measures such as vaccinations, avoiding potential irritants, and maintaining good overall health can reduce your cat’s risk of developing a cough.
However, suppose you notice any signs of coughing or other respiratory issues in your cat. In that case, seeking veterinary attention as soon as possible is important to identify and treat the underlying cause. You can help your cat stay healthy and cough-free for years with proper care and attention.