The Mysterious Cough: Unraveling the Enigma of Coughing Cats


Do you have a cat who periodically breaks the stillness of your home with loud coughing fits? Are you concerned this may be more than a harmless hairball or an allergy flare-up? If so, you’re not alone! Many cat owners wonder if the mysterious cough indicates something more serious is going on. 

In this blog post, we’ll unravel the enigma of a cat’s cough and help put to rest any worries about why your furry friend has started to hack away.

Causes of Coughing in Cats

There are several potential causes for cough in cats:

  1. Hairballs: Cats groom themselves frequently, and in the process, they ingest fur that can accumulate in their stomach. This forms a hairball, which they often cough up. However, if a hairball becomes lodged in the cat’s throat, it can cause coughing.
  2. Asthma: Similar to humans, cats can suffer from asthma. The symptoms often include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Various allergens, such as dust, pollen, or smoke, can trigger asthma attacks in cats.
  3. Infections: Bacterial or viral infections, like the common feline respiratory disease, can lead to coughing. Cats with such infections may also display symptoms like a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing.
  4. Heartworm Disease: Although more common in dogs, cats can also contract heartworms. The symptoms can be quite severe in cats, including coughing, as the heartworms affect the lungs.
  5. Lung Cancer: Although relatively rare, lung cancer can manifest as coughing in cats. Other symptoms, such as weight loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite, generally accompany this.


Each cause of coughing has its unique treatment approach, so it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian if your cat has been coughing frequently or if other symptoms accompany it.

Different Types of Coughing in Cats

Understanding the different types of coughs can help pinpoint what might be troubling your feline friend. 


  1. Dry Cough: A dry cough in a cat is often harsh and hacking. This cough could indicate a respiratory infection, asthma, or a lodged hairball. 
  2. Wet Cough: A wet or productive cough usually indicates fluid or mucus in the lungs or airways. This could be due to infections, heart disease, or lung cancer.
  3. Soft Cough: A soft cough can sometimes be overlooked as a simple throat clear, but persistent soft coughing could be a sign of heartworm disease or early-stage respiratory infection.
  4. Paroxysmal Cough: This type of cough comes in sudden, erratic bursts. It can be a symptom of severe lung cancer or heart disease.
  5. Persistent Cough: If your cat is persistently coughing, seeking veterinary care is critical. Persistent coughing can indicate serious illnesses like lung cancer or asthmatic conditions.
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Remember, while it’s useful to recognise the types of coughs, a definitive diagnosis should always come from a qualified veterinarian.

Environmental Factors that Contribute to Coughing

Your cat’s environment can significantly contribute to its coughing. Certain elements in the surroundings can trigger bouts of coughing, particularly if your cat is prone to respiratory issues or allergies. 


  1. Smoke: Exposure to smoke, whether from cigarettes, fireplaces, or candles, can irritate your cat’s respiratory system, leading to coughing and other symptoms. 
  2. Dust and Pollen: High levels of dust or pollen in your home can aggravate your cat’s lungs and airways, sparking coughing episodes. 
  3. Chemical Irritants: Household cleaners, perfumes, and air fresheners often contain chemicals that can irritate a cat’s respiratory tract, triggering coughing. 
  4. Mould and Mildew: These fungi release spores that can be inhaled by your cat, causing irritation and potentially leading to coughing. 
  5. Poor Ventilation: Inadequate airflow can exacerbate existing respiratory problems and promote the accumulation of irritants like dust and mould.

To mitigate these factors, maintain a clean, smoke-free environment, use pet-friendly cleaning products, and ensure good ventilation in your home. Regularly replacing air filters and using air purifiers can also help reduce airborne irritants. 

However, if coughing persists despite these measures, it’s important to consult a vet to investigate potential underlying medical issues.

Health Conditions that may lead to Cat Coughing

Several health conditions can result in a cat’s cough. 

  1. Bronchitis: Bronchitis, a bronchi inflammation, can cause cats to cough. Although less common, chronic bronchitis can lead to persistent coughing and may require long-term treatment. 
  2. Pneumonia: This is an infection of the lungs that can cause a wet, productive cough, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms such as fever and lethargy.
  3. Feline Calicivirus (FCV): This viral disease can cause upper respiratory infection in cats, leading to symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and eye discharge.
  4. Heart Disease: Certain heart conditions can cause fluid to build up in or around the lungs, leading to coughing in cats. 
  5. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): Although it primarily affects the abdomen, it can also cause respiratory symptoms like coughing if it spreads to the chest area.
  6. Fungal Infections: Certain fungal infections can affect a cat’s lungs, leading to coughing and other respiratory symptoms.
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Remember, it’s essential to seek veterinary advice if your cat coughs frequently or if the coughing is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of appetite, weight loss, or difficulty breathing. Only a professional diagnosis can accurately determine the reason for the cough and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Home Remedies and Treatments for Your Feline Friend’s Cough

Before delving into home remedies, it is essential to emphasise that any form of self-treatment should always be the same as a veterinary consultation. A vet appointment is crucial if your cat’s coughing is persistent or accompanied by other worrying symptoms. 

However, a few home remedies offer your cat some relief for mild cases or as a supplement to veterinary treatments. 

  1. Hydration: Keeping your cat well-hydrated can help thin out mucus in the airways, making breathing easier for your cat.
  2. Humidifier: A humidified environment can ease a cat’s coughing, especially if it’s due to a dry cough.
  3. Air Quality: Keeping the air clean and free from irritants like smoke and dust can help improve your cat’s respiratory health. 
  4. Natural Supplements: Certain herbs and natural supplements, such as marshmallow or liquorice root, may help soothe your cat’s cough. However, you must consult your vet before introducing new supplements to your cat’s diet.
  5. Nutrition: Providing high-quality, easily digestible food can strengthen your cat’s overall health, thus improving its resilience against illnesses causing cough.

In many instances, your vet may prescribe medication or suggest further treatments depending on the underlying cause of the cough. These could include antibiotics for bacterial infections, inhalers for asthma, or special diets for cats with chronic bronchitis.


In conclusion, a cat’s cough can range from a simple nuisance to an indicator of serious health conditions. Environmental factors and underlying health issues both play significant roles in causing and exacerbating coughing. While home remedies and environmental improvements can help, they should never replace professional veterinary advice. 

It’s vital to consult a vet if your cat’s coughing is persistent, severe, or accompanied by other worrying symptoms, as early detection and treatment of potential diseases can significantly improve your feline friend’s prognosis. Remember, your cat’s health and well-being are paramount; a happy cat makes for a happy home.


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