Coughing in Cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

Coughing in Cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

Coughing in Cats

Coughing in cats is a rather dramatic event to watch and every coughing feels like the last one. They shake, wretch, and become pretty agitated. But this is actually a defense mechanism that the body uses to rid the lungs and air passages of strange particles like dust, mucus, irritants, microbes, or inhaled food or water.

There are different types of coughing and each one can help determine the cause of it:

  • Wet, producing mucus
  • Dry with a wheeze or rattle
  • Dry and hacking
  • Honking

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Causes of coughing in cats

Since the causes of coughing in cats can be varied, let’s classify them depending on whether the cause is parasitic, infectious, inflammatory, or other.

Parasitic causes

  • Roundworms
  • Lungworms
  • Heartworms
  • Paralysis ticks

Infectious or inflammatory

  • Fungal infection
  • Cat Flu
  • Feline bordetella (a Bacterial cough caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pneumonic plague

Other causes

  • Hairballs (accumulation of hair in the stomach and intestine)
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Heart disease
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lung tumors
  • Inhalation of foreign body, food, or chemicals
  • Collapsed trachea
  • Nasopharyngeal polyps
  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Upper airway obstruction

Out of this list, the most common causes of coughing in cats are heartworm, lungworm, asthma, and pneumonia.


When you take your cat to the veterinarian, make sure you can give him a report of your cat most recent history, including recent activity and onset of symptoms. It is actually easy to confuse a coughing with sneezing, so your veterinarian will first determine if the symptom is either one.

The frequency, pattern, and type of coughing are important in helping determine the cause. This is why you should pay attention to the frequency, timing, duration, pattern, and characteristics of the coughing to provide this information to the veterinarian.

The vet will then run more tests to determine the cause of the coughing and the best course of action. In Dogalize, we are interested in you being the best owner for your cat.  We have an exclusive selection of information and resources for you to check out.  Visit us to learn more.