Cat Coughing: Vet in Raleigh Shares 6 Reasons Why Your Cat is Coughing

Cat coughing is the result of airway irritation, but that irritation can have a number of causes. Your North Raleigh veterinarian will help you to identify the cause of your cat’s irritation and the best path of treatment to help them to feel more like themselves.

Cat Coughing: Vet in Raleigh Shares 6 Reasons Why Your Cat is Coughing

There are various causes of airway irritation that can contribute to your cat’s cough. Today we want to take a quick look at some of those and what they mean for your furry feline.

1. Hairballs

Our cats regularly groom themselves and that grooming and preening causes loose hair to get pulled free by the tongue. As this hair is pulled free, some of it gets swallowed and while it usually passes through the digestive tract, it can sometimes collect in the stomach creating a hairball. When cats regurgitate these hairballs they aren’t so much coughing as they are gagging as the hairball gets vomited up from the stomach. The sound from bringing up hairballs can be confused for coughing, however.

It is uncommon for hairballs to cause obstruction or blockages, but if your cat sounds as though they are trying to bring up a hairball but is having no luck bringing it up, has a decreased appetite, is lethargic, has trouble with constipation, or shows any signs of “not feeling like themselves”, come in to see one of our veterinarians right away.

If your cat experiences hairballs regularly, it’s time to step up your grooming game and to talk to your vet about possible supplements that can help to prevent hairballs from forming.

2. Bronchitis

Just like us, our cats can develop bronchitis – inflammation of the respiratory tract/lower airway. Bronchitis can be the result of bacterial infections, allergies, parasites, or the inhalation of airway irritants. Each of these causes the bronchi (the main pathway in the lungs) to become swollen or obstructed which results in coughing and wheezing, and in some cases can even cause your cat to breathe with their mouth open.

If your vet suspects bronchitis, they will perform a physical examination and take a chest x-ray. They may also put your cat under anesthesia to perform a bronchoalveolar lavage which takes a sample of fluid from the lungs to get a better idea of which particular bacteria is at work so that the right antibiotic therapy can be started. A lavage is not possible for all feline patients since it does require anesthesia but when it is possible, it can provide valuable information that can help to shorten recovery time.

If your cat shows signs and symptoms of bronchitis, it’s important to get them to your Raleigh vet clinic ASAP so that treatment can begin right away!

3. Allergies

Allergies can be seen in animals of all species, including cats. They have a wide range of causes and can present with a vast number of symptoms. One of the most commonly seen symptoms in cats with allergies is coughing alongside wheezing, scratching, head shaking, and sneezing.

Since there are so many potential triggers for allergies, it can be difficult to know what is causing your cat’s symptoms. To help you to narrow the cause down, your vet will perform a physical exam and set up allergy testing to determine specific allergens. It is also likely that your vet will recommend an elimination diet if they suspect that your cat’s symptoms are the result of food allergies.

Once your cat’s allergens have been identified, your vet will talk with you about how you can keep your pet away from their allergen triggers.

4. Viral Infection

Viral infection can also be a common cause of coughing in animals of all species. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is just one example of a virus that can cause coughing. Viruses can cause coughing by causing swelling in the respiratory tract or by irritating the respiratory tract with mucus or discharge. Treating viruses is often a matter of providing supportive care, but your vet may also recommend antiviral treatment depending on your cat’s health and the particular virus causing their symptoms.

It’s important to follow your vet’s advice when providing supportive care and treatment to your cat so that you can help them to recover as quickly as possible.

5. Asthma

Like us, our cats can suffer from asthma and like us, the severity of our cat’s asthma varies and has different triggers. In addition to coughing, asthma symptoms include wheezing, rapid breathing, open-mouthed breathing, and vomiting. If your cat displays any of these signs, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian right away. Severe asthma attacks can be deadly so you want to address your cat’s asthma immediately.

When you consult your vet about your cat’s asthma, they will work with you to create a management plan to keep your cat healthy.

6. Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia results from infection in the lungs as a consequence of inhaling foreign matter – for example, aspiration pneumonia is common in young kittens who are bottle-fed. Since bottle feeding is not anatomically the same as nipple feeding from a mother, it’s easier for bottle-fed kittens to inhale formula into the lungs. This can cause infection which results in pneumonia.

Cats with aspiration pneumonia can display a range of symptoms including coughing, fever, frothy “spit up”, noisy breathing, and rapid heart rate. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from aspiration pneumonia it’s important that you visit your vet right away to get an infection under control.

Is Your Cat Coughing?

If your cat is coughing and you’re looking for a reputable and experienced cat vet in Raleigh, Leesville Animal Hospital can help. Just give us a call today at (919) 887-8808 and we’ll set you up with an appointment with one of our three veterinarians right away!