Cat coughing treatment – Why does my cat cough?

We know our cats will often have wretching, coughing like actions that results in an obvious hairball discharge (which can be treated with over-the-counter hairball treatment). But if this is not the reason for your cat’s coughing, then what can be the other causes? What cat coughing treatment will be needed?


Causes of coughing in my cat


  • Most often, an inflammatory problem is the cause of coughing in cats. This causes problems for the cat’s lower repitory tract. This can be a form of bronchitis. An infection can be to blame for this coughing condition.
  • Bacteria and viruses such as Bordetella, and Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis can be the source of this inflammation.
  • Other reasons cats may cough may be due to parasitic worms such as heartworms.
  • Various allergies can be the cause of your cat’s coughing. There are many allergies your cat can pick up and additional to the cough may be, sneezing, itchy skin (you cat maybe be increasingly scratching at itself), runny eyes, vomiting, diarrhea or ear infection.
  • If your cat has inhaled a foreign substance (such as a blade of grass) or liquid, then this can also be a cause.

Your cat may be making motions with its paws or moving its head to indicate that something is possibly stuck in its throat, so try to carefully check if this is the case.

If your cat is wearing a collar then check it isn’t too tight.

In cats, coughing is not likely to be a sign of heart disease.

If a cat has a canercous tumor in their chest, then it is also possible that coughing could be an indicator of this.


Do I need to take my cat to the vet?


You don’t have to immediately worry about taking your cat to the vet should you observe signs of coughing from your cat.

However, if the coughing is persistent over more than a few days, you see signs of your cat losing weight and seemingly visibly feeling ill, or if the cough is recurring and productive (phlegm, liquid or other matter is produced from coughing), then consulting your vet is definitely encouraged.


why does my cat cough cat coughing treatment


How will it be diagnosed? – What cat coughing treatment is there?


Firstly it will be helpful to have documentation of your feline friend’s medical history. Take note of anything that may have recently changed in your pet’s immediate environment.

Your cat may require several tests, including blood tests to dignose the basis of the problem causing the coughing. The treatment given will differ depending on what the results of these tests are.

For some of these procedures your cat may also be required to be sedated. Coughing can also be distinguished from feline asthma as a result of these tests. In some cases, also an ultrasound evaluation of the heart may be required.


Feline asthma


It is also possible for cats to develop feline asthma, making breathing difficult due to a chronic lung inflammation. A perssistent cough is a symptom of this but it is usually also accompanied with open-mouth breathing, blueish gums, wheezing and gasping for breath.

Examples of causes for feline asthma can be : Cigarette smoke, perfume, stress, obesity and pollen.



We generally find that cancer in cats will occur around half the rate that is does in dogs, but the form does tend to be more aggressive in cats.

Regular check-ups at the vetinarian are encouraged as cats can be good at hiding their illness and the symptoms for cancer are subtle, however they can be treated if found early.



How will my cat’s cough be treated?

Teatment for your cat will depend on the diagnosis of the cough.

A mild case will usually result in systomatic treatment of decongestant medicines.

Often antibiotics with be used to treat a primary bacterial infection, or a primary viral infection with a secondary bacterial infection. They will usually be prescribed for at least two weeks.

Corticosteroids may be prescribed to ease swelling, itching and redness.

Antiparasitic drugs may also be prescribed.

Also take note that even if your cats seems fully recovered before the prescribed course has finished, always complete the course! As would be true for yourself if you were prescribed with antibiotics.

If the problem is reoccuring then you vet will advise you with targetted supplements to improve mucus membrane repair and also to act as immune stimulants.



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Ward, Ernest. “Coughing in Cats” VCA. 2020 (January 19, 2020)

ASPCA. “Cat Care: Asthma.” ASPCA. 2011. (April 19, 2011)

Griffin, Morgan R. “Causes of Coughing in Cats.” WebMD. 2011. (April 19, 2011)

Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith. “Feline Asthma: A Case of Coughing in Cats.” Pet Education. 2011. (April 20, 2011)