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Is It Normal for Cats To Cough?

Posted March 23, 2015 in Cat Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Cat coughing

Watching a cat cough and wretch, regardless the cause, is disturbing. The cat becomes agitated and apprehensive; each cough looks as though it will be the last. What could possibly be behind all of this drama? Well the truth is there are a number of causes for cats coughing; some serious, all disturbing.

Do you remember seeing the animated movie Shrek? One of the film’s greatest characters, for me, was Puss in Boots and one of the most hilarious scenes was watching him cough up a hairball. The visual impression of Puss coughing was spot on. Unfortunately, it left you with the impression that cats cough because of hairballs and that it’s the only reason.

What causes coughing in cats?
Coughing is a protective reflex intended to rid the respiratory tract of foreign particles, mucus, irritants and microbes. It is not a disease in itself but it is a sign of an underlying problem. Coughing in cats is induced primarily by irritation or inflammation in the bronchi or trachea and can be associated with a variety of conditions ranging from mild to severe. These conditions include1:

With so many possible causes, how is the cause of coughing diagnosed? It is important that your veterinarian be consulted with any ongoing or severe cough. The nature of the cough along with other physical findings may be helpful in diagnosing the underlying cause.

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.