A cat attending a veterinary appointment

Coughing in cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

While coughing is common to us humans, and frequently a symptom of the common cold, a cat coughing could be more serious.

If your cat keeps coughing, this can be a sign of a number of conditions, so you should always visit your vet to establish the cause. This is particularly important if you notice your cat is having trouble breathing – whether they’re panting, wheezing, or short of breath.

We take a look at some of the causes of cat coughing.

Coughing vs gagging

Of course, it’s easy to confuse coughing with the retching or gagging your cat demonstrates when she has a hairball (which are quite common, especially in long haired cats.) 

Cat coughing concerns

  • Rattling coughs
  • Wheezing coughs
  • Dry, hacking coughs
  • Wet, mucus coughs
  • Honking coughs

Common causes of cat coughing include;

  • Asthma – see our article on asthma in cats 
  • Infections such as cat flu, pneumonia, feline bordetella
  • Fungal infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus inflammation (sinusitis)
  • Allergies
  • Obstruction of the upper airways
  • Heart disease
  • A blockage, tumour or fluid in the lungs
  • Lung trauma (for example after an RTA)
  • Parasites such as heartworm, roundworm, lungworm or ticks 

An occasional, infrequent cough is often nothing to worry about, but if your cat continues to cough, or shows any other symptoms, get her along to your local vet. Your vet will examine your cat and advise on the likely cause of the cough and possible treatment.

The science bit…

Also known as tussis, coughing is a reflex action designed to clear the lungs and airways of particles, microbes and other irritants, inhaled water or food, or mucus. Coughing is never a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a symptom of an underlying condition.

Is my cat at risk?

The most common age for chronic coughs to develop in cats is between two and eight years. Coughing can affect all breeds of cat, but oriental breeds such as Siamese and Burmese are most susceptible.

“Of course, it’s easy to confuse coughing with the retching or gagging your cat demonstrates when she has a hairball,” 

Cat coughing advice and treatment

Need expert advice on a cat coughing? Get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.