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What is Coughing?

When it comes to coughing, there are various types that you should listen out for like whether it is dry or wet. Whether it has lasted over time as a chronic cough or has only suddenly occurred yet is causing your cat to have further complications, you may want to contact a professional to determine if there is some other underlying problem.

A cough is something that is common to other animals, but is rare in cats. When your cat does cough, there is either inflammation or irritants within their throat, airway, or lungs. It should not be confused with gagging; the sounds can be somewhat similar, but severe bouts of coughing can sometimes lead to retching. The cough itself though is not necessarily a disease or illness alone, but it may be the sign of one.

Coughing Average Cost

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Average Cost

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Symptoms of Coughing in Cats

Coughing is an involuntary reflex of the body. It's your cat's way of expelling whatever is irritating the lungs, airways, or throat. If your cat has a cough, they may exhibit some of the signs listed below:

  • Moist/wet with mucous
  • Dry and hacking
  • Retching/vomiting
  • Signs of infection/illness (e.g. fever, running nose/eyes)
  • Difficulty breathing
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Causes of Coughing in Cats

There are several different ailments that can bring about a cough. The causes can range from mild to severe. A few of the causes are listed below:

  • Tracheal irritation/collapse (due by excitement, tugging at collar, or drinking water)
  • Fluid accumulation (blood, water, or pus in the airways or lungs)
  • Upper/lower respiratory tract disease (e.g. Feline Bordetella)
  • Asthma
  • Hairballs
  • Allergies
  • Parasitic worms (e.g. heartworm, lungworm, roundworm)
  • Chest/lung tumors
  • Cold/flu
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Nasopharyngeal polyps (benign growths from the mucous membranes in the nose)
  • Heart disease (rarely)
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Diagnosis of Coughing in Cats

If your cat's cough is severe and an exact cause is undeterminable, your veterinarian may conduct an extensive workup to figure out the underlying problem. They will want a full medical history, which is where you can greatly assist in the diagnosis of the cough. You can keep track of whether there has been a change of environment for your cat, how often your cat has been coughing, whether or not it's dry or wet, and whether it occurs during specific hours of the day, such as at night. The vet will also take into consideration the indication of any other illnesses, and also your cat's age, as younger animals tend to develop coughs due to viral or bacterial infections.

Concerning tests, your vet may order a chest x-ray to examine the lungs for signs such as fluid or asthma. In the search for parasites, a stool sample will be taken. Further tests include blood work and a urinalysis. In order to check your cat's airways, your vet may utilize a bronchoscope or order transtracheal washing, which involves placing a tube down the windpipe to collect cells. To keep your cat calm, it may be sedated during the examination.

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Treatment of Coughing in Cats

How your vet treats your cat's cough will be determined upon discovery of its cause.

Parasites

If the tests have yielded positive for parasites, then your cat will be treated based on the particular worm. For heartworms, your vet may want to assist your cat's breathing through the use of bronchodilators, and in severe cases, administer medication to kill the worms. The medication, however, poses risks and should only be a last resort consideration. Lungworms and roundworms are more easily treated with simple parasitic medication.

Antibiotics

Your vet may prescribe antibiotics in the event of infections. They are often given for at least two weeks or more, but even if your cat begins to show signs of improvement, it is recommended to carry on the treatment for as long as your vet prescribed, as symptoms may return otherwise.

Other Medications

In the case of asthma or allergies, anti-inflammatory drugs or antihistamines may be administered. Also, if the cough has lasted long enough to cause permanent damage to the mucous membrane, then your vet may want to give your cat supplements to repair it or even immune stimulants to help the body fight off any recurrent infections.

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Recovery of Coughing in Cats

As coughing is rare in cats, it can be simple to get rid of it once the cause has been determined. If your cat has received treatment, you should still keep a watch in case the cough returns. For coughs caused by simple matters such as hairballs, then fixing your cat's diet should prevent any reoccurrences. As for asthma and allergies, try to keep an eye out in case any other symptoms develop or the coughs become worse. If possible, you may want to consider a change of environment.

In the more severe cases, following up with your veterinarian can only help prevent any worsening of your cat's position. For instance, in the case antibiotics have been prescribed, you should allow your vet to take a look at your cat to be certain the infection has been thoroughly treated.

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Coughing Average Cost

From 519 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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Coughing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Tabby

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13 Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing; Sneezing; White Bubbly Phlegm

Last night our 13 y/o male,overweight,mostly indoor tabby no history of med issues started coughing & gagging up white bubbly phlegm.He does this everytime he licks or eats. We live in MN so it's cold & the furnace has really dried out the air.My husband who has nasal problems from allergies was having pain & sweeping of nasal cavities last night.I've noticed dry mouth & ^ thirst myself Xs 1 day.Other changes are new gifts,including a new cat tree which has a plushy gray fabric around it.I also changes litter brand 2days ago. He seems uncomfortable but is able to keep food down and rest.

Dec. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It does sound like your cat likely needs to see a veterinarian. One thing you may want to try if you think that dry air is part of the problem is to sit in a bathroom with him while a hot shower runs for 10 minutes and let the steam get into his nasal passages. If that does not help, or if things are not getting better for him, then seeing a veterinarian would probably be best.

Dec. 28, 2020

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Sphinx

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3 weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dry Cough

When my kitten wakes up he does a very dry cough for about 30 seconds or so then seems he is fine. Same small cough when he yawns. When I listen to his lungs they seem fine

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I am sorry for the delay, this platform is not set up for urgent emails. Without being able to see him or examine him, it is difficult for me to say why this may be happening. Perhaps your environment is more dry then he is used to? If the problem continues, it would be best to have your veterinarian look at him to make sure that he is okay.

Oct. 10, 2020

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short haired cat

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing & Wheezing

My cat only starts coughing & wheezing when the temperatures outside start to drop. We've entered into Fall and it's begun. He doesn't experience coughing & wheezing everyday it's intermittent lasting anywhere from 5- 20 mins. He is otherwise a healthy cat strictly kept inside unless carried outside but never coming in contact with any other animals.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. Cats can have allergies, and asthma. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Jupitor

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tabby

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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3 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Productive Cough
Wet Cough

I adopted a feral abused 4yr old male about 1yr ago from a shelter where he'd been caught and dropped off. He was pretty much "un-adoptable" as he is terrified of people, hide in his cage and wouldn't let anyone touch him. Its taken a year but he doesn't hide anymore isn't afraid of being near me but still becomes terrified if my hand goes near him...the reason Im telling you all this will be clear in a moment. He's developed a wet sounding cough in the last wk. I believe its productive you can hear the change in the cough but I think it's become more frequent today. My problem is how to get him to the vet plus knowing that he will not let the vet (or me) try to handle him once there...His name is Jupiter he's come so far in a year I don't know how to accomplish this with him.

Sept. 25, 2018

Jupitor's Owner

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Chief

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tabby

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My 2 year old male orange tabby has coughed twice since we moved into a new apartment. It’s been 2 months and he’s coughe once a month. The first time I thought it was the dust because there was a lot of dust in the apartment but now I’m wondering if it is something worse or just allergies from a new environment. The coughing is dry and lasts less than a minute. Nothing is expelled during the coughing. He doesn’t seem to have a fever or any other symptoms

Sept. 1, 2018

Chief's Owner

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Punk

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tabby

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cough

My cat has a non-productive cough that lasts up to a minute and stops, sometimes it sounds like he is trying to cough up a hairball because he makes a gulping motion. No mucus, no watery eyes or nose. It is more wet than dry sounding. Sometimes when he is leaning over his cat tree he triggers a similar cough, but sometimes it starts when he is doing nothing. I am worried it is heartworm because he goes outside occaisionally, although I try to stay up to date with the preventive medication. This has been going on for at the very least over a year. Sometimes it is more frequent sometimes I forget about it because I do not see him do it for weeks or a month.

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Spooky

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DOMESTIC BLACK

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

Watching my cat cough and seem to try and get something out of her throat , is frightening to watch. It’s like she’s possessed And after her last cough ; not only does her tongue extend out pretty far but also looks like her last breath of air. I’m very helpless watching her

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Kitts

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dsh

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My cat would have a coughing fit when she was startled! Don't laugh, but one of my others took pleasure in jumping out from behind corners to get this reaction. She would also cough when it was dry, or when she had exerted herself. For almost three years I did everything the vet said, treating it as a hairball, even though I firmly believed it was asthma. When I found a vet qualified to read a chest xray, I discovered I was right. Two weeks on prednisone and the coughing stopped. She's on a maintenance dose of 2.5 mg a week, and we're stretching it to every 10 days. If you know in your gut that what you're being asked to do isn't working for your pet, question it, and if you have to, find a new doctor!

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Gilly

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tabby

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16 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dry Cough
Long Fits Of Coughing

I got a cat from the local shelter and had him for a few months now. He’s older so I know he will probably pass soon but he seems to be in good health besides this. He has these coughing fits that go on for a minute of more usually but he never throws up afterwards. It sounds dry to me, almost like a broken squeaky toy. I’m worried that he’s in a lot of pain and that I may have to put him down but I don’t have money to take him to the vet. Please help me if you can at all

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Harlyn

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Tabby Cat

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Dry Hacking Cough

My cat has recently started dry coughing (sounds like a hair ball but nothing comes up) no vomiting just cough. We recently moved and had a lot of dust and trash that we went through in the moving process please help need to know if I should take her to the vet or not. She has done it for about 3 days now. No worms noted in her poop or anything just the cough. I did have to take her during the winter for allergies she was pulling her hair out and making places all over her self.

Coughing Average Cost

From 519 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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