Cat Care: Why Is Your Cat Coughing?

If your cat starts coughing, it should be taken as a sign they need to be checked over by your vet. A cough is typically a symptom of an underlying condition, and although it's often not serious, there are some serious conditions that cause coughing, and it's important to be aware of them. Here's an overview of common causes of coughing in cats and the diagnosis and treatment process:


Common causes of coughing in cats include food or environmental allergies and cardiac disease. Coughing can also be caused by your cat ingesting a foreign object, such as a small toy, or a piece of food that gets stuck in their airways, causing a partial blockage. Respiratory tract infections, which can be bacterial, viral or parasitic in origin, and tumours in the lungs can also cause your cat to cough persistently.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your vet will diagnose the cause of your cat's cough by conducting a thorough physical exam and taking details of their health history. Your vet will ask about the frequency and characteristics of the cough, which can help point them in the right direction as they determine what diagnostic tests to carry out. Blood and urine samples will be taken to check organ function and to determine if your cat has an allergy or if their inflammatory markers are raised, which can indicate the presence of an infection. Other signs of an infection include raised protein in your cat's urine and dehydration. Your cat may also undergo a CT scan or X-ray, which will allow the vet to check the health of their respiratory system and determine if they have any tumours or blockages. Additionally, if your cat is producing any mucous when they cough, a sample will be analysed for the presence of bacteria.

Treatment will depend on the identified cause of your cat's cough, but it may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or anti-parasitic medication. You may have to make changes to your cat's diet if an allergy is suspected, and if your cat has an obstruction or tumour, surgery will be required. It's likely your vet will want to observe your cat for a few days, and a follow-up appointment will be required to confirm treatment has been successful.

If your cat develops a cough, don't be tempted to wait and see if it passes. Respiratory infections and obstructions can be fatal, so it's always best to have your cat examined by your vet as soon as possible. Contact a local vet clinic to learn more.