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Why is your cat coughing?

Ginger cat advice
© Pixabay

“Why is my cat coughing?” you ask yourself. It’s a weird sight. But that’s just what the critter is doing. And you need to find out what is making your cat cough

By G. John Cole

Coughing may be just about as close as cats get to normal behaviour. So much so, it is discomforting when they do it. There are several potential causes if your cat has a cough. It’s important to get an answer quickly, as some of the causes of cat coughing are serious.

What are the causes of cat coughing?

Your cat’s cough may be wet and swampy or dry and retchy. As with humans, cat coughing is not an illness in itself. It is a response to something else that has gone awry in the body.

Coughing is a reflex intended to remove foreign or irritating elements from the respiratory tract (breathing pipes). In other words, it is a symptom not a cause.

Furball cough

Possibly the most common cat cough is the classic hairball retch. The daft creature probably has a habit of grooming itself with its tongue. Gradually all that hair it licks builds up in its throat – and it takes some effort to eject it.

The great news for you is that means you will constantly find little vomitty fur nuggets around the house. Anyway, at least the coughing sessions tend to deal with the problem. Which means if your cat stops coughing and you find a hairball, no further action is required.

That said, it is wise to brush your cat regularly so there’s less fur for the little idiot to eat in the first place.

Other cat coughs

But if your cat keeps on coughing, there is something more serious at play. And you should take the creature to see a vet. It may be particularly urgent if your cat shows other symptoms such as wheezing, fever, or runny eyes.

Breathing problems , for example, can point to bronchitis – an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. It can be caused by an infection, parasites, or an allergy.

Cat breeds with flat faces are particularly vulnerable to asthmatic coughing. This can be provoked by pollution, chemicals, or allergies.

Heart disease, including heartworm disease, is another serious cause of coughing. Weakness, fainting, and a swollen tummy, are all among extra symptoms you should look out for.

Pneumonia and respiratory problems are directed connected to your cat’s lungs and other breathing apparatus. This means that failing to treat it can cause serious breathing trouble for your cat. You are likely, therefore, to also spot breathing-area symptoms, including sneezing or a runny nose.

Other parasitic diseases, cancer, and infections might alternatively be to blame.

What to do if your cat keeps coughing

A hairball cough should deal with itself. Otherwise, you can get over-the-counter hairball lubricants that ease the furry nuggets through your cat’s system. If the cough still persists, probably something else is up. Make a careful note of other symptoms, and get that cat to the vet.

The vet will look at you cat’s history, take your new information into account, and proceed with a physical examination. Depending what she finds, she may need to run further tests. These can include, for example, radiographs of your cat’s chest.

If your cat has asthma or allergies, you will need to look at the creature’s environment to see what irritants you can reduce. This may mean keeping the windows closed if you live near a smoggy street. Or it may require a change of litter brand, laundry detergent, or hamster. Hoover regularly to stop irritants accumulating on your carpet or rugs.

Other illnesses may require more complex treatment. And the prognosis (life expectancy) really varies from illness to illness, cat to cat, so there’s no way to make a general statement about your cat’s ‘chances’ if it has a cough.

Infections and parasites may require antibiotics, anti-parasite treatment, or corticosteroids. As with many illnesses, a change of diet may be recommended to ensure your cat gets the calories, nutrition, and hydration that it needs. Your cat’s vet will advise you on your cat’s particular case.

So if moggy’s got a cough on, don’t worry too much – but make sure to take timely action in case something serious is in the pipeline!