Coughing in Cats: Why Do Cats Cough? Causes and Treatment


Like humans, dogs, and other creatures, cats can cough for a variety of reasons. Cough may occur as a reaction to dust or foreign body, or it may be due to a health problem. Coughing is a natural reflex to clear the airways of harmful particles or liquids for healthy breathing. If you notice your cat coughing, it may be helpful to monitor closely for a while. Cough can be due to an insignificant reason, or it can occur as a symptom of a serious illness.

Causes of Coughing in Cats


Cats can cough for many different reasons. These reasons are obvious in some cases. For example, the presence of a cat nearby while dusting the bedroom can cause it to cough. In addition, your cat may cough because it has a very serious illness.


Asthma in cats is very similar to that in humans. Allergens such as pollen or dust cause asthma attacks. Because these allergens cause inflammation in the lungs and airways. Other conditions, such as stress and obesity, can also cause asthma. The most common symptoms of asthma in cats are coughing and wheezing when breathing. The factors that cause asthma are as follows.

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Smoke
  • Perfume
  • Essential Oils
  • Incense

Respiratory Tract Infection

Bacterial and viral respiratory infections are another health problem that causes coughing in cats. Infectious peritonitis of cats can lead to respiratory tract infection. The most common symptoms of respiratory tract infection include discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing, sneezing and fatigue.

The most common cause of respiratory infections in cats is actually the feline herpes virus. 97% of cats are exposed to feline herpes virus at least once in their lifetime. There is a vaccine available against the feline herpes virus. It is not among the mandatory vaccinations for cats, but it is recommended by veterinarians to vaccinate cats against feline herpes virus.

Feline Calicivirus

Feline calicivirus is also a type of virus that causes upper respiratory tract infections in cats. This virus is highly contagious. It first appears as an upper respiratory tract infection and spreads to the lower respiratory tract. As a result, it leads to pneumonia, which makes it difficult to breathe in cats. The healing process varies according to the symptoms and the severity of the infection. Some cats do not fully recover.

Feline Conjunctivitis

Feline conjunctivitis is a problem that is transmitted as a result of close contact of cats and causes infection, especially in young cats. It is especially common in shelters where many cats live together. Feline conjunctivitis causes symptoms of upper respiratory tract diseases such as coughing in cats. Feline conjunctivitis is successfully treated and cats can live long and happy lives afterwards.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections can cause coughing in cats. In particular, the cat’s inhalation of fungal spores causes severe coughing. Symptoms of fungal infections include coughing, swelling of the face, sneezing and runny nose.


Bordetella is usually seen in dogs, although it is rare in cats. Bordetella is particularly common in places such as shelters where many cats are together. It is a very dangerous disease for cats and can lead to loss of life. Symptoms of Bordetella infection include coughing, sneezing and difficulty breathing. When diagnosed in a short time, it can be successfully treated. Otherwise, it will cause severe pneumonia that will lead to life-threatening.

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is another common disease that causes coughing in cats. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty breathing. The symptoms of heartworm disease can be easily confused with allergies, asthma or other diseases, so the disease may not be easily noticed. Even if heartworm is treated, it can be fatal to cats. Infection usually occurs when a mosquito carrying heartworm larva bites the cat, and the larva enters the cat’s bloodstream. The larvae develop and begin to grow in the cat’s heart and other vital organs.


Tumors, especially in the chest, lungs, or trachea, cause coughing and other symptoms in cats. Tumors that develop in the vocal cords or trachea cause difficulty in breathing and coughing, while tumors that develop in the respiratory tract are usually seen in the nose, sinuses, trachea, vocal cords and lungs. Cats with lung cancer experience symptoms such as dry cough, difficulty in breathing, and inability to run.

Unknown objects

Grass leaves or small insects that get into a cat’s nose or windpipe can cause cats to cough and sneeze. In this case, coughing is actually a reflex that develops to throw foreign bodies out of the body. Foreign substances stuck in the throat or nose by sneezing or coughing are removed from the body.


Allergy is a common health problem in cats. The most common symptom is a dry cough. Lung inflammation as a result of allergies causes chronic cough in cats. In addition to coughing, symptoms such as weight loss, difficulty in breathing and wheezing occur.

Cats can have allergic reactions to pollen, dust, or other airborne particles. Allergy-induced coughing and asthma have similar symptoms and can be seen together. In such cases, it may be necessary to take the cat to the vet. Cough relievers often help relieve the cat’s symptoms.

Cough Treatment in Cats

The treatment of cough in cats actually varies depending on the underlying cause. Therefore, it is necessary to diagnose the underlying cause of cough first. Afterwards, the disease causing this condition is treated. In general, cough and the problems that cause coughing can be successfully treated. However, early diagnosis of certain diseases is important.

Antibiotics are used in the treatment of infections that occur in the respiratory tract and cause coughing. In diseases that cause inflammation such as asthma, steroid-containing drugs are preferred. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce pain and increase life comfort in cats with pain problems. In cases related to environmental conditions such as allergies, it is usually sufficient to change the lifestyle of the cat. In cases where such treatments do not work or in emergencies, surgery may be required.

It is very important to see the symptoms in the cat and try to understand what kind of cough is occurring. Providing as detailed information as possible to the veterinarian on this subject can help your cat recover in a shorter time. The cough, usually caused by a dust or grass leaf, is short-lived and goes away with the removal of the foreign body. However, chronic coughs and the presence of other symptoms can indicate a serious illness. In such cases, it is extremely important to go to the veterinarian for examination without wasting time. Because if the disease causing cough is diagnosed early, treatment is easier and recovery is achieved in a short time. However, in cases where the disease progresses, the treatment may take longer. In addition, the progression of some diseases can cause permanent damage to the cat. For this reason, if the cough does not go away within a few days or if different symptoms appear, the cat should seek medical help.

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