Everyone has heard of a hairball-hacking feline, but if your kitty seems to cough a little too often, it's natural to be concerned. Cats cough for various reasons, most often due to some form of inflammation in their respiratory system. By understanding the root causes, you can ensure your furry friend gets the care they deserve.

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  1. Why Is My Cat Coughing
  2. Common Causes of Cat Or Kitten Coughing
  3. Can Cats Get Kennel Cough From Dogs
  4. Cat Coughing With Other Symptoms
  5. Treatment For Cat Coughing
  6. FAQs
  7. Conclusion

Why Is My Cat Coughing

Coughing in cats generally points to inflammation in the respiratory tract. It's their way of saying, "Something's not quite right in my lungs or throat." Unlike dogs, it’s not often a sign of heart disease, but more likely an infection or irritation in their lower airways and lungs that will cause a persistent or chronic cough.

Common Causes of Cat Or Kitten Coughing

  • Allergic Pneumonitis: Cats can react to substances like pollen or mold, leading to coughing, wheezing, and rapid breathing.
  • Bronchitis: This inflammation can cause coughing, sometimes with mucus, wheezing, and breathing issues.
  • Tumors: Rarer, but growths in the respiratory system can result in coughing, weight loss, or breathing difficulty.
  • Parasites: Heartworms, lungworms, or lung flukes might reside in your cat, causing coughing, wheezing, and more.
  • Inhaled Foreign Objects: Grass, toys, or other items can cause coughing, gagging, or even nasal discharge.
  • Environmental Irritants: Smoke, perfumes, or strong cleaning agents can provoke coughing or sneezing.
  • Viral Infections: Veterinary sources point out that common causes of cat or kitten coughing are viruses like feline viral rhinotracheitis (also known as feline herpesvirus type 1) and feline calicivirus, which can lead to coughing. These are the most common viruses causing respiratory signs in cats, often resembling a severe cold.
  • Laryngitis: A raspy meow paired with coughing can signal inflammation of the voice box.
  • Pneumonia: Serious and demanding immediate vet attention, it causes coughing, rapid breathing, and lethargy.

Keeping a keen eye on your cat, especially with the aid of a Pet Camera, can help identify the cause of their cough. If symptoms persist or worsen, don't hesitate to consult with a veterinarian. They can offer solutions to get your whiskered companion back to feeling their best.

Can Cats Get Kennel Cough From Dogs

Ah, kennel cough! It’s a term that might ring a bell if you’re familiar with the world of dogs. But can our cats catch kennel cough from their canine siblings? Let’s dive into it with the help of some veterinary sources.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough, technically known as Bordetella bronchiseptica, is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It gets its name because the bacteria can quickly spread in spaces like kennels where many dogs are close together. Symptoms in dogs include a persistent, forceful cough, sneezing, a runny nose, and, in some cases, a fever.

Can Cats Get Kennel Cough?

Cats can contract the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, but it's not as common. When they do, the disease doesn't always manifest in the same way as it does in dogs. Cats might show symptoms like sneezing, nasal discharge, and a mild fever. Coughing, while common in dogs with the illness, is less frequently seen in cats.

How Can Kennel Cough Spread From Dogs To Cats?

The bacteria can spread through airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces. If a dog with kennel cough sneezes or coughs near a cat, there's a chance the cat can pick up the bacteria. Likewise, if they share toys, beds, or bowls, the risk increases.

Protection and Prevention

  • Vaccination: While there's a vaccine for dogs against kennel cough, there isn't a widely used one for cats. However, if your cat is frequently in contact with many dogs (like in a multi-pet household or a boarding situation), you might discuss vaccination options with your vet.
  • Hygiene: Regularly cleaning shared spaces and items can minimize the risk of transmission.
  • Isolation: If your dog is showing symptoms of kennel cough, it's a good idea to keep them separated from your cat until they recover.

Cat Coughing With Other Symptoms

If your cat's coughing has you playing detective, you're on the right track. Coughing is just one symptom, and often, the accompanying signs can provide crucial hints about what's troubling your feline friend. Using Dr. Darren Foster’s Diagnosis and management of chronic coughing in cats research, let’s look at how to read the clues and get closer to a diagnosis.

Coughing with Wheezing or Labored Breathing: This combo could point towards asthma, especially if it's triggered after exposure to irritants like smoke, dust, or certain sprays.

Coughing with Sneezing and Nasal Discharge: Classic symptoms of a respiratory infection. As mentioned earlier, feline viral rhinotracheitis and feline calicivirus are the usual culprits here.

Coughing with Loss of Voice or Change in Meow: This can indicate laryngitis, an inflammation of the voice box.

Coughing with Weight Loss: Persistent coughing combined with unexpected weight loss can be a concerning sign and might point toward a tumor or cancer in the respiratory system.

Coughing after Playing or Curious Sniffing: If your playful kitty starts coughing suddenly after a play session, they might have inhaled a foreign object.

Coughing with Lethargy and Loss of Appetite: These could be symptoms of pneumonia or another serious condition that requires immediate attention.

Coughing with Gagging or Vomiting: While occasionally this can be due to a harmless hairball, frequent episodes can indicate chronic bronchitis or other underlying conditions.

Coughing with Heart Murmurs or Weakness: These symptoms together might point towards heartworm disease, which, though rare in cats, can still occur.

Coughing with Rapid Breathing: This could be a sign of allergic pneumonitis or a reaction to some environmental allergen.

Pro Tips for Feline Detectives

Track the Frequency: Noting how often your cat coughs can be useful. Is it after every meal? Only at night? These patterns can offer insights.

Monitor Behavior: Changes in behavior, like hiding more often or being less playful, can give you additional context.

Consult with a Vet: Your veterinarian will be your ultimate detective partner. They can perform tests, like X-rays or blood work, to get to the root of the issue.

In the end, while playing detective can help you gather valuable information, always consult a professional when in doubt. Your kitty's health and comfort are worth it!

Treatment For Cat Coughing

When a gentle purr turns into a persistent cough, it's essential to ensure your feline friend receives the right care. Chronic coughing is a symptom that shouldn't be ignored, and the good news is that there are effective treatments available.

Treatment Options for Chronic Cat Coughing

  • Medications: Depending on the diagnosis, your vet might prescribe bronchodilators or corticosteroids for conditions like asthma. Antiviral or antibiotic medications can be effective for infections.
  • Inhalers: Cats with asthma might benefit from inhalers that deliver medication directly to the lungs.
  • Surgery: In cases where tumors or inhaled foreign objects are causing the cough, surgery might be recommended.
  • Parasite Treatment: If parasites like heartworms are diagnosed, appropriate medications or treatments will be prescribed.
  • Environmental Adjustments: For cats affected by allergies, changes like air purifiers or eliminating certain household products can make a difference.
  • Dietary Changes: In some cases, a change in diet can alleviate symptoms. Always consult with your vet before making any drastic dietary changes.

Chronic coughing in cats can sometimes escalate into emergencies. That's where the Petcube Emergency Fund steps in. For just $1 a day, they offer a financial safety net, covering up to $3000 in emergency vet bills. This can be a lifesaver in unexpected situations, ensuring that financial constraints never come between your cat and the care they deserve.

Moreover, if you're ever in doubt about your cat's symptoms, Petcube's 24/7 online telehealth service is invaluable. Without needing to rush to a clinic, you can get professional advice anytime you notice your cat coughing or showing other worrying signs. This immediate access to veterinary insights can help you determine the best course of action and whether a physical vet visit is necessary.


Why is my cat coughing after drinking water?

Your cat may cough after drinking due to water entering the trachea instead of the esophagus, a momentary "wrong pipe" scenario. This is often harmless but can be alarming.

Why is my cat coughing after eating?

Coughing post-eating might indicate regurgitation, aspiration, or a potential issue with the cat's esophagus. Speedy eating or certain foods can occasionally be the culprits.


While occasional coughing in cats, especially after eating or drinking, can be benign, it's essential to monitor the frequency and any accompanying symptoms. Persistent or severe coughing warrants a visit to the vet.

As cat parents, understanding these signs ensures we can offer our feline friends the best care. Remember, it's always better to be cautious and seek expert advice when in doubt.

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