What should I do if my cat is coughing? As a concerned cat owner, witnessing your beloved feline companion coughing can be distressing.

Coughing in cats can have various underlying causes, some of which may be minor and temporary, while others could be signs of more severe health issues. This read will help you understand the reasons behind your cat’s coughing when to be concerned, and what steps to take to ensure your cat’s well-being.

Understanding Feline Coughing

To effectively address your cat’s coughing, it’s essential first to understand what coughing means in felines:

Definition of Cat Coughing

Coughing in cats is a reflex action when the body attempts to clear the airways of irritants or foreign substances. It often manifests as a sudden, forceful exhalation of air, sometimes accompanied by a distinctive sound.

Types of Coughing

Cat coughing can be classified into two main types:

  1. Productive Cough: This coughing expulses mucus, phlegm, or other substances.
  2. Non-productive Cough: A non-productive cough is dry and produces no discharges.

Common Causes of Cat Coughing

Various factors can lead to coughing in cats. Knowing these reasons can help you identify the source of your cat’s coughing:

Upper Respiratory Infections

Cats can contract viral or bacterial upper respiratory infections, leading to coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge.


Cats, like humans, can develop allergies to environmental factors, including pollen, dust, smoke, or certain foods. Allergic reactions may manifest as coughing, among other symptoms.


Coughing can be a natural response to dislodging hairballs in cats. While occasional hairball-induced coughing is regular, frequent or severe coughing may warrant investigation.


Asthma is a breathing condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. It may require long-term management.

Heartworm Disease

Cats can contract this parasitic infection in regions where heartworm disease is prevalent. Coughing can be a symptom of advanced heartworm disease.

Bronchitis or Pneumonia

Infections or inflammation in the airways or lungs can lead to coughing in cats.

Dental Disease

Dental problems, such as tooth abscesses or gum infections, can sometimes cause coughing if the infection spreads to the respiratory tract.

Tumors or Growths

Uncommonly, tumors or growths in the throat, airways, or lungs can trigger coughing.

When to Be Concerned

Determining when to be concerned about your cat’s coughing is crucial for their well-being:

Persistent or Severe Coughing

If your cat’s coughing persists for over a day or becomes severe, seek veterinary attention promptly.

Other Symptoms

Pay attention to accompanying symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite, or discolored nasal discharge. These can indicate underlying health issues.

Coughing Blood

If your cat coughs up blood or has blood-tinged nasal discharge, it’s a red flag and requires immediate veterinary care.

Changes in Behavior

Check for changes in your cat’s behavior, such as increased hiding, restlessness, or vocalization. These changes can provide valuable clues to their overall health.

Veterinary Evaluation and Diagnosis

When your cat’s coughing is a cause for concern, a visit to the veterinarian is essential:

Physical Examination

A thorough physical examination by a veterinarian will assess your cat’s overall health, including lung and heart sounds.

Diagnostic Tests

Depending on the vet’s findings and suspected causes, diagnostic tests may include bloodwork, X-rays, ultrasound, bronchoscopy, or tracheal washes to identify the underlying issue.

Allergy Testing

Allergy testing may help pinpoint specific triggers and inform treatment for suspected allergies.

Treatment Plan

Once the cause of your cat’s coughing is determined, treatment may include medications, antibiotics, bronchodilators, or lifestyle modifications.

Home Care and Prevention

After consulting with your veterinarian, you can take several steps to provide home care and prevent future episodes of coughing:

Medication Adherence

If your cat is prescribed medications, ensure proper administration and adherence to the treatment plan.

Allergen Avoidance

If allergies are identified as a cause, try to minimize your cat’s exposure to allergens. Keep the environment clean and consider air purifiers.

Dental Care

Regular dental care, including professional cleanings, can help prevent dental issues contributing to coughing.

Heartworm Prevention

Use veterinarian-recommended heartworm preventives to protect your cat from heartworm disease, especially in high-risk areas.

Environmental Enrichment

Provide a stimulating and enriching environment to reduce stress, which can exacerbate coughing in cats.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Schedule routine check-ups to monitor your cat’s health and catch any potential issues early.

Conclusion: What should I do if my cat is coughing

Coughing in cats can be caused by several reasons, from minor irritations to more severe health concerns. Knowing the potential causes and when to seek veterinary attention is crucial for ensuring your cat’s well-being. 

Regular veterinary care, proper medication administration, and environmental management can help manage coughing and maintain your feline friend’s quality of life. Always consult a veterinarian to address any health issues your cat may be experiencing.