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Why is My Cat Coughing?

Why is My Cat Coughing?

Has your cat's purr turned into a cough? If so, it means they may have something irritating their lungs, throat, or airways. A few of the potential causes can be easy to treat, whereas others are more serious. Today, our Visalia vets discuss the possible causes of coughing in cats. 

Why Is My Cat Coughing?

Watching your cat cough can be worrying, even if the cause is minor. A cat can get apprehensive and agitated, where each cough looks like it may be the last.

If your cat's cough is severe or ongoing it's imperative that you take them to the vet immediately so your veterinarian can make an official diagnosis and provide treatment.

The nature of your cat's cough in combination with the other physical findings your vet makes will be helpful in diagnosing the underlying cause.

Here, our Visalia vets have listed some potential causes for your cat's cough.

Common Causes of Coughing in Cats


Asthma is the most common feline respiratory disorder, and cats who spend at least part of their time outdoors are at higher risk of getting it and may experience a cough. Other symptoms your cat may develop include wheezing, difficulty breathing, opened-mouth breathing, and vomiting. 


Allergies may be another potentail cause of your cat's cough. In addition to coughing your kitty may also exhibit sneezing, itching skin, gas/bloating, and vomiting.

Fungal Lung Infection

Your outdoor cat could pick up a fungus from the soil and may start to cough. And, depending on the type of fungal infection they have your cat may also experience sneezing, loss of appetite, bloody discharge from the nose, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, cysts under the skin, blindness, anemia, weight loss, and more.


Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos. If you live in an area with these bugs, your cat has a higher risk of getting this condition. You can get medicine from your vet to help prevent this issue. The symptoms of heartworm disease in cats typically look like other cat illnesses such as coughing, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and vomiting.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer could also be the cause of a cat cough as well as loss of appetite, lethargy, excessive hiding and meowing, lameness, rapid breathing, and fever. Some tumors can be controlled with medication. If not, surgery may be an option.


Persistent coughing, as well as labored breathing, fever, bluish mouth, nasal discharge, lack of appetite, and coughing up blood and mucus, can be a sign of pneumonia. This condition can be diagnosed with X-rays and may respond to antibiotics and other therapies.

Congestive Heart Failure

Coughing may also be a sign of congestive heart failure, which your vet may be able to diagnose with ultrasound or electrocardiogram. Other symptoms of congestive heart failure include abdominal bloating, lethargy, weight loss, and loss of consciousness.

Tight collars

If your cat's collar is putting pressure on their windpipe it can cause damage and lead to a cough.


Worms are common in felines. It’s one of the reasons why your pet gets regular blood and fecal exams at their veterinarian's office. If your cat has worms they may also exhibit on top of a cough, a change in the color of their gums, increased appetite, weight loss, and dark and tarry stools. You may even notice the visible presence of worms in your cat's vomit, stool, or on your cat's fur.

Treatments for Your Cat's Cough

The methods used to treat your cat's cough will depend on its underlying cause. Don’t attempt to treat your kitty's cough without talking to your vet first.

Your cat's treatment plan could consist of cough suppressants, antibiotics, steroids or other drugs, and even surgery, but you should work with your vet to find the best option.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat has developed a cough contact our Visalia vets immediately.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services is a pet emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs in the Visalia area. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

Contact (559) 739-7054