The Reasons Your Cat May Be Coughing

As a cat owner, you are probably familiar with the sound of your pet coughing up hairballs. This is harmless and, in many homes, commonplace. But chronic cat coughing, can be symptomatic of a bigger problem. At BluePearl Veterinary Partners, we understand that you want to help your feline friend find relief. Fortunately, diagnosing the problem quickly can mean effective treatment. If your cat seems to be constantly coughing, your family veterinarian will likely narrow down the cause of the condition to one of the following issues:

  1.  Chronic Bronchopulmonary Disease

More often than not, the reason a cat is coughing is due to something called chronic bronchopulmonary disease. This disease actually comprises a number of conditions, such as:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Feline asthma
  • Chronic bronco-pneumonia
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Typically, these conditions occur in cats that are middle-aged, or between 2 and 8 years old. There are some breeds seemingly more prone to the diseases, such as Siamese and Burmese cats.

  1. Pneumonia

Parasites, bacteria and viruses can all cause your cat to develop pneumonia. Even simply inhaling an irritant or toxin can lead to the condition. Typically, cats who already have poor lungs are more likely to develop the infection than others. You may also notice your cat has nasal discharge and wheezing.

  1. Cancer

Cats who develop neoplasia, a cancerous tumor, are usually older, averaging between 10 and 14 years of age. Depending on the location of the tumor, there may be coughing or wheezing present.

  1. Foreign Body

Is there a chance your cat swallowed a small toy? Many times, these are simply coughed right up. However, if a foreign body remains in place, chronic coughing may result. In some instances, the foreign body can cause other infections or symptoms to manifest as well.

  1. Fluid in the Lungs (Pulmonary Edema)

Congestive heart failure can lead to fluid in the lungs, a condition called pulmonary edema, though heart failure can also be a result of infection, near-death experiences such as strangling or drowning, or even smoke inhalation.

    6. Pulmonary Trauma

Most cats climb. And sometimes they fall. Falling can cause trauma, including a hemorrhage, contusion or pneumothorax, a condition which can lead to a collapsed lung, respiratory distress, and possibly coughing, especially if the trachea or bronchi have been damaged.

    7. Pulmonary Parasites

Cats that go outdoors may also be exposed to lungworms or other parasites that can infect the lungs. The inflammation and damage associated with the presence of these parasites may also result in coughing or trouble breathing.

Treatment Options

The good news is that many times, cat coughing can quickly and easily be resolved. If you notice your cat seems to be coughing or wheezing often, it is a good idea to take him or her to your family veterinarian. Your doctor may run a series of tests to determine what the cause of the cough is. In some instances, medication may be able to resolve the issue. If a foreign body is involved, the doctor may recommend surgery. In many cases, treating the underlying disease or infection causing the cough will remedy the cough itself.

If you notice your cat coughing or if you have any other health concerns, please contact your family veterinarian today.