Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Youtube Play

What is Kennel Cough?

Even though there is a vaccine approved for use in cats, unlike with dogs, it is very rare for a cat to be vaccinated against Bordetella. This is because it is quite rare for an adult cat to contract Bordetella. Very young kittens are much more at risk than adult cats. Consequently, in some environments in which young kittens may be one of a large number of cats, veterinarians may recommend vaccinating the kitten against Bordetella.

Coughing is very rare in cats. If you have a cat that has developed a cough, especially if that cat is a young kitten, it is imperative that you contact your veterinarian immediately as kennel cough can be very serious in young kittens as well as in elderly or immunocompromised cats.

Although it is much more of a threat to dogs than to cats, Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacteria that is related to the bacteria that causes whooping cough in humans, can cause very severe and even fatal respiratory infections in very young kittens or older cats with weak immune systems. It is possible, and perhaps common, that healthy adult cats contract Bordetella but only develop very minor symptoms similar to a mild cold and recover quickly. When this bacteria infects a very young or otherwise immunocompromised cat, the resulting condition, commonly called kennel cough, is identifiable by the raspy and dry cough that develops.

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image

Kennel Cough Average Cost

From 487 quotes ranging from $100 - $250

Average Cost

$200

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Cats

Symptoms of kennel cough are similar to a severe cold or influenza. Since coughing is so rare in cats, the following symptoms should be concerning enough to warrant a call to your veterinarian:

  • Coughing, ranging from mild to hacking and choking
  • Gagging
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal or ocular discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Kennel Cough in Cats

Bordetella is a highly contagious bacterium; cats are just more resistant to it than dogs, causing infection to be much rarer in cats and much less severe in otherwise healthy adult cats. Cats tend to catch kennel cough from other infected cats. There is little evidence that cats can catch kennel cough from dogs. There is some evidence, however, that cats are able to pass the bacteria on to dogs. Kennel cough is likely to be present and spread within large animal populations in an enclosed area such as an animal shelter. Very young kittens and older cats are much more susceptible than healthy adult cats.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Kennel Cough in Cats

The vet will listen to your observation of symptoms in the cat as well as perform a thorough physical examination, concentrating on listening to the lungs and heart as the cat breathes. While a vet may make a tentative diagnosis based solely on observational evidence, it is likely that your cat will take a swab from inside your cat’s mouth or from the nasal discharge. The sample will then be examined to determine if Bordetella bacteria is present. A chest x-ray may also be advised.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Kennel Cough in Cats

Treatment for kennel cough is similar to treatment for other respiratory infections. It usually includes the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Increased fluids, sometimes intravenously
  • Rest
  • Cough suppressant or expectorant
  • Healthy diet 
  • Nutritional supplements to build up the immune system
  • Ensuring the air is well ventilated
arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Kennel Cough in Cats

Prognosis for a young kitten with no other underlying health problems is usually quite good with treatment. The prognosis for older cats is dependent upon their age and underlying health conditions.

  • Be consistent in administering prescribed medication to the cat according to the instructions provided by your vet and with the medicine
  • Quarantine the cat while it recovers to prevent possible spread to other animals, especially if there are young or old animals in the same environment. This will also allow the cat to recover in a quiet stress-free environment.
  • Keep the cat’s environment clean and disinfected, including bedding, food and water bowls, and litter box
  • Consult with your veterinarian about nutritional supplements that may strengthen your cat’s immune system in the long run
  • Be observant regarding possible recurrences
  • Ask your veterinarian about the possibility of a vaccination to prevent future cases
arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Kennel Cough Average Cost

From 487 quotes ranging from $100 - $250

Average Cost

$200

arrow-up-icon

Top

Kennel Cough Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Angelo

dog-breed-icon

short haired

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hacking

I don't know if my 2 cats are trying to hack up a hairball or got kennel cough my 1 year old cat Angelo today since 4:30am seemed like he was going to have up a fur ball or was trying to puke right now he seems congested

April 20, 2018

Angelo's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Cats aren't typically affected by kennel cough, and coughing in cats can be a sign of many things. If Angelo is coughing and seems congested to you, it would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian to make sure that everything is okay, and that he doesn't need treatment for his problems.

April 20, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Socks

dog-breed-icon

mixed, shorthair

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing,Hacking, Sneezing .

I just had a mixture of feral and dumped cats, some had kittens who would be 8-11 months old, spayed and neutered. Now I have a bunch of cats who are sneezing, which 2 were before they went, one was too bad and I kept it in a kennel and gave antibiotics before she went, and coughing. Could they have gotten something from the free spay and neuter clinic? A local Organization made all arrangements, even picking them up at my home after I trapped them, and bringing them home that night, so I'm not sure but I believe the first trip was to the ASPCA, I hope I spelled it right.I was told to give them worm medicine which I did and now wonder if that has anything to do with this? There was a small amount of sneezing before they went but now it's almost everyone and the nasal discharge is a very thick, yellow, stringy almost discharge and the cough is a hacking/choking cough. Only one has stopped eating and he is in his own crate, I put him there as soon as I realized he wasn't eating. I'm disabled and have a very limited income so I can't pay a vet bill but don't like it that the cats have to suffer because of my illness. Is there anything that can be done for them?

April 15, 2018

Socks' Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

You need to get the cats seen by a Veterinarian regardless as I cannot recommend anything without examining them first; it certainly sounds like they have a severe infection and should be seen as soon as possible. If you are on disability (and doing great work with cats) you should try reaching out to some nonprofits (link below) for assistance with veterinary care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogingtonpost.com/need-help-with-vet-bills-or-pet-food-there-are-resources-available/

April 16, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

Kennel Cough Average Cost

From 487 quotes ranging from $100 - $250

Average Cost

$200

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

advertisement image
ask a vet placeholder
Need pet insurance?