Why Is My Cat Coughing?

Is Your Cat Coughing Cause for Concern?

Likely you will worry if your cat starts hacking and wheezing, but often a cough is a temporary, relatively harmless condition.

On the other hand it could be a symptom of something serious that needs the attention of a veterinarian.

Knowing some of the reasons a cat might cough may save you some worry, or quickly alert you to a problem that requires urgent treatment.

Coughing Caused By Tight Collar

Yes, it does happen. Perhaps your cat has put on weight and the collar has become too tight causing your cat to cough and choke.

Here the coughing is easily remedied.

Adjust your cat's collar so that it is more comfortable.

A cat collar does not need to be tight around the neck, as it should never have a leash attached.

Use a leash and harness to walk your cat.

If you are worried about a looser collar getting caught on something then get kitty a breakaway collar.

It is not good to have the collar so tight it causes your cat to cough.


Cats spend much time grooming their coats with their tongues and in doing so often swallow hairs. These hair can gather in a mass within the cat's digestive system and the resulting hairballs have to be coughed up.

The sound of a cat coughing up hairballs is usually pretty distinctive. It is a retching, heaving sound.

Sometimes hairballs are not easy for a cat to bring up. Often an amount of retching is necessary before the offending ball is expelled.

Feline Coughing – It's In The Air

If you are a tobacco smoker you may not realize how much your habit can affect other creatures and not only other humans. Your cat's coughing could be a reaction to tobacco smoke.

This is not a lecture on smoking, but we have all been made aware of the dangers of passive inhalation of smoke.

Cat CoughTheir are many conditions that cause cat cough, some are serious.

The consequences for your pet could be far more severe than cat cough.

Aerosol spays ( air fresheners, deodorants, polishes etc.) can irritate the throat.

Most cats will skedaddle out of the room pretty fast if an aerosol is used, but if your cat has nowhere to run to escape the spray, you may find that she coughs and splutters because of it.

Is the cat litter that you are using irritating your cat's airway? Some litters are very dusty.

If your cat coughs while you are house cleaning it could be because of disturbed dust particles.

Is It Safe To Give My Cat Human Cough Medicine?

The short answer is No, never give any animal medication meant for humans, unless recommended to do so by your veterinarian.

You may find advice online that says certain commercial child cough remedies are safe for cats. Please keep in mind that cats and other pets are not human children, what may be safe for a child may not be safe for a cat.

Again, do not give your pet human medication unless it is prescribed by a veterinarian, and then only in the dosage prescribed by the vet.

Cat Cough – Swallowed Object

Cats and kittens are inquisitive. They often investigate small objects they come across by taking hold of them with their mouths, and it does happen that these small objects get swallowed.

These objects can often block the cat's air passages making breathing difficult. The poor animal may retch and cough in attempt to displace the obstruction.

You may be able to remove the object by carefully using tweezers.

However it is in no way easy to insert tweezers into the throat of a distressed cat, it is preferable to have someone hold the cat for you.

If you are unable to remove the object and the cat cannot cough it free, then get the help of a vet. If the cat is unable to breathe it becomes an emergency.

Cat Coughing After Exercise

A feline coughing after exercise, or even after being petted, could be displaying symptoms of feline bronchitis. In severe cases cats have been known to faint after coughing.

cat and vet

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi (pipes that lead to the lungs,) it can also spread to the main windpipe (trachea.)

Cat bronchitis is also often referred to as feline asthma, allergic bronchitis, allergic airway disease and feline bronchial disease.

Causes of feline bronchitis are varied and sometimes difficult to pinpoint. Intestinal parasites can be a cause as can heart disease, viral infections and prolonged exposure to smoke, dust and debris, mold and pollens.

If you suspect that your cat has bronchial problems you should consult your veterinarian without delay.

Feline Cough – Heart Problems

Coughing is not often an indication of heart problems in cats but it can be. This is particularly so if the cough happens at night, is moist and accompanied by breathing difficulties. Older cats are more prone to heart problems.

Treatment may include surgery to correct abnormalities although veterinarian prescribed medication that reduces strain on the heart are available.

Cat Kennel Cough

Feline Bordetella can be described as Cat Kennel Cough, it is an infectious condition that affects the upper respiratory tract.

The condition can spread rapidly in catteries, shelters and anywhere numbers of cats are together. Kittens and cats with weakened immune systems are most at risk, it is prevented by vaccination.

Moist coughing, often accompanied by labored breathing is one of the symptoms of the condition. Lethargy and loss of appetite are others. Your veterinarian will likely treat Feline Bordetella with antibiotics.

This list of reasons for a cat cough is not exhaustive. As with humans there are no end of conditions that can trigger a bout of coughing, sneezing or spluttering for a cat.

Some reasons are only temporary. Others are not temporary in the sense that they will continue until you do something about it, such as home environmental reasons. If a certain spray polish that you use causes cat cough, then ceasing to use it is the answer.

Is the coughing a symptom of something serious? If the cat coughing is prolonged and/or is accompanied by other symptoms, then you need to get your cat to a veterinarian.

If you are at all unsure, don't take chances, get your pet checked.

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