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Healthy Cats

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Why Does My Cat Cough So Much?

Has your cat’s rumbly purr turned into a cough? That means something is irritating his throat, airways, or lungs.

Some causes are easy to treat. Others are more serious and can be life-threatening. Your vet can find out what’s bothering your pet and keep him in good health.

Recommended Related to Cats

Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats

A cat’s upper respiratory tract-the nose, throat and sinus area-is susceptible to infections caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria.

Read the Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats article > >


It’s the most common feline respiratory disorder. About 800,000 American cats have some form of it. Ones that spend at least part of their time outdoors are most likely to get it.

When something irritates your cat’s airways, they get inflamed and shrink. This makes it hard for him to breathe. He could get a slight, ongoing cough.

Asthma causes include:

If you notice your pet coughing, take him to the vet. Asthma can worsen quickly, and he might not be able to breathe at all.

Other Causes of Coughing

Allergies. The causes and symptoms are similar to those of asthma. Your vet can figure out which is to blame.

Fungal lung infection. Your kitty could pick up a fungus from the soil. Each part of the country has a different type, but coughing is a common symptom.

Heartworms. This disease is spread by mosquitos. If you live in an area with these bugs, your cat is more at risk. You can get preventative medicine from your vet. The symptoms resemble asthma, so your pet could be misdiagnosed. Your vet can test him to make sure.

Lung cancer. Some tumors can be controlled with medication. If not, surgery may be an option.

System diseases. Coughing can be a sign of pneumonia or congestive heart failure. An ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, or electrocardiogram can confirm.

Tight collars. Pressure on your cat’s windpipe can cause damage and lead to a cough.

Worms. These are common in felines. It’s one reason your pet gets regular blood and fecal tests at the vet.

How to Help Your Vet

Give her detailed information about the cough:

  • Its quality: Does it sound wet or dry?
  • Timing: When it happens at night, that's often a sign of fluid in the lungs or heart failure.
  • Triggers: If your cat coughs after exercise, he might have heart disease. If it happens after a meal, it could mean problems with his larynx or esophagus.

Knowing this can help your vet pinpoint the most likely causes, choose tests to confirm a diagnosis, and prescribe the best treatment.

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