Why is My Cat Coughing?

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Coughing in cats is not any different than that in humans. Just like humans, cats experience irritation in their throats, airways, and lungs, which results in respiratory cough in cats. Though coughing in cats is relatively less as compared to sneezing, but still prevalent when it comes to respiratory infections. It could be fatal for young kittens. Hence, it should still be taken seriously.



Seeing your cat coughing is very disturbing. Many cat owners got confused between coughing due to gagging or retching or hairballs, but coughing due to respiratory issues is not the sole cause for your cat coughing; there are many reasons why your cat could be coughing. For instance, there may be an irritant in your cat’s throat or airway that he or she is trying to get out by coughing.

In order to help you understand what your cat might be doing and why she is doing, here is a table based on the type of reaction your cat may be having and whether it is severe or not. Keep in mind, any type of reaction for a prolonged period is severe and needs veterinary assistance.


Type of reaction Severity Veterinary assistance
Gagging Not so severe Not required
Coughing Depends on the cause In most cases, it is advisable to show your vet.
Retching Severe if continuous If the vomiting is frequent, visit your vet
Choking Severe As cats can’t help themselves in this regard, it is necessary to take your cat to the vet ASAP.


What could be the reasons for your cat to cough?



  • Asthma: Over 8 million cats in America are affected by asthma, most of them being outdoor or feral cats, but this does not exclude indoor cats. About 1% of indoor cats in America have some signs of asthma, especially if they spend most of their time outdoors. So how does your cat get affected by asthma? When an air irritant enters your cat’s air passage, it causes inflammation. As a result, a cat finds it difficult to breathe, which further causes asthma. There are many causes of asthma, such as cat litter dust, pollen grains, cigarette smoke, perfumes, etc.

Asthma is a serious condition and can worsen quickly. Hence, you should take your cat to the vet if there is a persistent cough. If not taken care of in the early stages, it will cause more difficulty in breathing for your cat, which may also result in death.

  • Lower Respiratory Infection: When the lower respiratory tract of your cat gets infected by some air irritants, your cat will cough as some form of bronchitis is taking place. Viruses such as Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis are mainly responsible for this kind of infection along with other bacteria such as Bordetella. If the coughing is excessive, taking your cat to the vet is always advisable because if it is left untreated, your cat could develop further complications that could be lethal.


While clinical signs of asthma and bronchitis are very similar, it is crucial to identify the real cause of coughing as both have different pathologies and treatments. Check out this table to understand the difference between feline asthma and bronchitis.

Parameter Asthma Bronchitis
Age Young to middle ages Young to older ages
Sex Though it can be found in both male and female, it is majorly found in female cats It can be found in both male as well as female cats
Breed It can be found in any cat, but asthma is likely to found, especially in Siamese cats It can be found in any cat breed
Clinical Signs Persistent cough

Episodic respiratory distress with enhanced abdominal efforts

Persistent cough

Respiratory distress occurs at end stages

  • Parasitic worms or Heartworms: Parasitic worms or heartworms could be the reason why your cat is constantly coughing. Heartworms are caused by mosquitoes. So, it is best to take preventive measures if you have a lot of mosquitoes in and around your area. The symptoms are close to that of asthma, so you can always confirm with your vet what it actually is. You can also use Vet’s Best Mosquito Repellent Spray to get rid of mosquitos.
  • Lung cancer: While the term “cancer” tends to scare us, cancer-causing tumors may be removed with the help of vet prescribed tablets. But if the condition requires surgery, then you will have to go forward with the surgery to remove the tumors.


How to prevent your cat from cough causing irritants?

Your cat’s health and well-being matters, that is why you are reading this article in the first place. Your cat may be coughing due to various reasons. While it is impossible to get rid of all of them, you may rule out a few by choosing to do the following methods:



Get an air purifier: We know how the air quality is getting poorer and poorer by the day due to rapid urbanization. While air pollution affects us, it also affects our furry friends. Getting an air purifier will not only help your cat get rid of pollutants, causing respiratory infection but also help you in the long run from respiratory problems.

Keep your cat warm: During the cold months, your cat should be kept warm as cats are prone to catching a cold quite often than not. Hence, it is vital to keep your cat indoors. Also, you can buy Little dove pet teepee and add blankets, thick padding, and warm clothing to keep your cat warm.

Vaccinate your cats: When your cat contracts a lower respiratory infection that causes your cat to cough is due to the fact that your cat is not vaccinated. There will be flares of consistent cough. Get your cats vaccinated properly, especially the CRP vaccine within the first six months. However, if you have not yet given your cat the CRP vaccine, give it now. Better late than never.



Cats cough just as we do; there may be various reasons for cat coughing, but you can rule out any serious causes by taking a short visit to the vet. While we may use cough syrup to get rid of the cough, it is not advisable for your cat as your cat’s system is different from ours. DO NOT give any medicines without a proper veterinarian’s prescription. It will not help your cat instead cause more problems and complications. You vet will give your cat suppressants, antibiotics, or steroids if it is a common cat cold. But if the case is serious, your vet will be able to guide you better on that.

Nonetheless, there is nothing to be worried about cats coughing. Usually, it is not fatal, but do not use this as an excuse to not go to the vet.

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