The natural response of your cat’s airways and throat to irritation is to cough. Cats should not cough frequently or routinely, even if this is a normal reaction. Most pet owners have probably never heard of a cat coughing.
There are several ways we can tell if our cat is coughing or doing something else. When should we worry? What Causes a Cat to Cough, and Why Does It Do It? Here are the 11 most common reasons cats cough, compiled by the Animal Welfare Association.
Is Coughing & Gagging Normal in Cats?
Even when cats cough, they do so far less often than other animals. Coughing up the airways in cats is sometimes confused with gagging or vomiting, also known as “coughing up hairballs.”
Coughing is an attempt to expel air from the lungs that make a loud, piercing sound. The mucous membrane lining the trachea, bronchi, or bronchioles is often inflamed or irritated to allow a foreign body or accumulated inflammatory secretions, such as B. phlegm from the lungs. If you have a really bad coughing fit, you may vomit or even throw up stomach contents such as bile.
Cough and asthma attacks must be distinguished. Cats with asthma often have bluish or gray tongues or gums, and often open their mouths when inhaling. It’s not uncommon for cats to have an asthma attack that requires medical attention.
Why Does a Cat Cough?
When irritants, dust, mucus, or other particles get into the airways, a protective reflex is triggered trying to get rid of them. This reflex is the cough: an attempt to keep the airway clear.
Coughing in cats can occur for a variety of reasons. While a cough is not a disease in itself, it can be a sign of an underlying problem.
Some of the causes of cough in cats are:
- feline asthma
- respiratory infections
- Elimination of a hairball
- Other infestations
- diseases of the respiratory tract
- Cough in cats: the most common causes
The causes of a cough in cats can be varied and range from the throat to the lungs. Treating your cat’s cough depends on what you find out about it.
Many cat owners mistakenly believe that their cat is coughing because of a ball of fur. Your cat may cough, but that’s not the same as a hairball throwing up. If your vet examines a video of your cat coughing and concludes that the cough is not caused by a hairball, there is a good chance that it is not a hairball.
#1 Influenza-Related Chest Complications
Feline herpesvirus-1 or feline calicivirus may be responsible (or, rarely, influenza). Transmission of these viruses from cat to cat is common. The viruses can survive in cats for the rest of their lives if they get infected as kittens. These viruses commonly infect the nose and throat region of the body. This can happen when the throat is swollen and irritated, leading to coughing.
#2 Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis (also known as feline asthma) affects 1 percent of sick cats and is very similar to human asthma. Chronic dry cough is the most common symptom of this disease, which is caused by inflammation of the airways. Cats’ chronic coughs are easily masked by sudden coughing and gasping for air. Siamese and Oriental cats are more likely to suffer from this problem.
#3 Infectious Bronchitis
This is an infection-related inflammation of the airways in the lungs, which manifests itself in coughing and shortness of breath. Mycoplasma spp. and Bordetella bronchiseptica are two bacteria that can cause it. These microorganisms rarely occur in isolation and are often co-infected with a virus in the upper respiratory tract and/or lungs. Fever, decreased appetite, reduced performance, and sneezing with nasal mucus are common side effects of a sudden cough.
Lungworms are a type of parasite (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus or Eucoleus aerophilous). Cough in cats is caused by parasites that live in the lungs and inflame the airways. They are more common in kittens raised outdoors.
Pneumonia in cats is called “pneumonia”. Pneumonia is a fast-moving illness that will leave your cat feeling ill – they will have a fever, will not be able to eat, and may be struggling to breathe. Bacterial, viral, parasitic, protozoal (such as Toxoplasma gondii), fungal, or mycobacterial infections can all contribute.
Aspiration occurs when vomit or gastric fluid is accidentally inhaled rather than swallowed, usually during severe vomiting or during anesthesia/sedation.
Edema occurs when fluid clogs the airways of the lungs, causing coughing and difficulty breathing. This can but does not have to be due to heart disease (cardiogenic). Coughing due to heart failure is rare in cats, so edema is unlikely to be the result of heart disease. The only way to know for sure is to take your cat to a cardiologist or specialist.
Coughing in cats with cancer can manifest itself in a number of ways. It’s possible for the trachea or airways of the lungs to be pinched by a large mass growing in the chest or throat. There is also a risk that cancer has spread to the throat, trachea, or airways.
Coughing is a common symptom in cats that have been injured and have bleeding in their airways. It’s possible that the lungs themselves are perforated, allowing air to escape and making breathing difficult. Whatever the cause, these kitties need urgent medical attention.
#8 Lung Effusion
This indicates that there is fluid in the cat’s chest but not in the lungs. A bacterial infection, fluid from malignant disease, or lymphatic fluid is possible (rare) causes. Coughing occurs due to the pressure this fluid creates outside the lungs.
There are large lymph nodes deep in the chest that have enlarged. The cat’s immune system is supported by a large number of lymph nodes in its chest cavity. When the lymph nodes in the throat enlarge, it puts pressure on the trachea and airways, causing a cough. This can be caused by cancer or a serious infection.