Treating a Cat Cough

"There are multiple possible causes for a cat cough including bacterial infection, furballs, and allergy. Cough is caused by irritation in the airway, throat or lungs. Treatment depends on the cause including cough suppressants, antibiotics for bacterial infection and steroids for allergic causes. Young cats frequently cough due to a viral or bacterial infection. Middle age cats commonly cough or wheeze due to asthma. Older cats (and some middle age cats) may start to develop problems such as heart disease.

Consult with your veterinarian if the problem persists and record when and where it happens. A homeopathic may help to boost the strength of the immune system, thereby improving respiratory health."


Coughing is a reflex; when something irritates the back of the throat, the airways, or the lungs, cats cough to expel the irritant. The most common cause is cat bronchitis.

Cat Cough Symptoms

You'll recognize a cat cough when you hear it. It may be a dry, hacking cough or it may be a moist-sounding cough. Coughing may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as runny nose or eyes and fever. If a cough persists for more than 24 hours or if something seems to be stuck in your cat's mouth or throat and you cannot remove it, take your cat to the veterinarian.

Symptoms and Possible Causes

The time of day and related activity levels when coughing could indicate a possible cause:

Feline Cough Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will examine your cat thoroughly and may take x-rays to examine her lungs. A stool sample may also be examined for parasites, so take a sample with you if you can. Your vet can also use a bronchoscope to look into your cat's airways. Another technique is called a transtracheal washing where a tube is placed down the windpipe to grab cells which can then be examined under a microscope.

The area where the cough is coming from, such as the trachea, can indicate the cause.  Symptoms that accompany cough, such as a heart murmur could indicate heart disease.

Possible diagnoses include:


Cat cough treatment depends on the cause of the cough. Antibiotics are prescribed if a bacterial infection is suspected. Asthma is treated with bronchodilaters (to open the air passages to the lungs) and steroids (to reduce inflammation of the lungs). Allergies are treated with antihistamines. Parasites must be treated depending on the particular parasite.

You should only treat light coughs at home and in consultation with your veterinarian. Mild coughs can be treated with the cough medicine Robitussin-DM which contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan. This is the only ingredient that is cat safe. Avoid any cough medicine with acetaminophen which is highly toxic (Tylenol). The dosage is 1/2 teaspoon per 10 pounds weight every 6 hours as necessary.

If your cat has phlegm do not use cough medicines since the clearing of phlegm is natural and healthy for the cat. Cough medicine may mask symptoms that are helpful in diagnosis since they don't help any underlying cause of the cough.

Natural Treatment

There are several natural supplements that help with cat cough problems. These include:

For more information on natural remedies and for a product made for this purpose explore PetAlive KC-Defense Formula for Respiratory Infections or AmazaPet for general cat respiratory support.


Reasons for Cat Coughing
Cheek, Darlene

Cough in Dogs and Cats
Hines, Ron DVM

Carlson, Delbert G. DVM
Giffin, James M.
Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook

Washington State UniversityCollege of Veterinary MedicineThe Coughing Pet

Ip - Infectious & Parasitic Diseases
Infectious Diseases of the Respiratory Tract
Remo Lobetti BVSc, MMedVet
(Med), PhD, Dipl. ECVIM
Bryanston Veterinary Hospital

Cat Cough
Washington State School of Veterinary Medicine

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