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Cat Can't Stop Coughing: Why is My Cat Coughing?

Has your cat's purr suddenly become a persistent cough? This may mean that their lungs, throat, or airways are irritated. Here, our Oakland vets list potential causes of coughing in cats, and how this symptom may be treated. 

Why is my cat coughing?

Even if your cat only has a minor illness, watching your poor kitty cough can be concerning. Cats can become agitated and apprehensive when they develop a cough they can't seem to get rid of, and naturally, you'll likely wondering whether to bring them to see your vet. 

If your cat's cough is ongoing or severe, it's critical to arrange veterinary care immediately, as this is a veterinary emergency. Our experienced veterinarians in Oakland can officially diagnose the issue, provide treatment and offer advice. 

Common Causes of Coughing in Cats 


If allergies are to blame for your cat's cough, your feline companion may also sneeze, vomit, and experience bloating, gas and itchy skin. 


Felines who spend any time outdoors are at increased risk of asthma, the most common feline respiratory disorder. You may find your cat is coughing and wheezing. They may also have difficulty breathing, breathe with their mouth open or vomit. 

Congestive Heart Failure 

Coughing is a potential symptom of congestive heart failure. Your vet may be able to use an ultrasound or electrocardiogram to diagnose this serious problem. Weight loss, lethargy, abdominal bloating and even loss of consciousness are other signs of congestive heart failure. 

Fungal Lung Infection 

If your outdoor cat has contracted a fungus from soil, they may start to cough. And, depending on the type of fungal infection they develop, you may also notice bloody discharge coming from your cat's nose. They may also lose their appetite, sneeze, become blind, lose weight, sneeze, or have diarrhea. They may also experience anemia or cysts under the skin. 


Heartworm disease is commonly spread by mosquitos. If you live in an area with these bugs, your cat is at increased risk of contracting this condition. Your veterinarian can administer parasite prevention medication to help prevent this issue. Sympoms of heartworm disease in cats typically look like other cat illnesses such as coughing, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, and weight loss. 

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer could also be the cause of a cat cough as well as loss of appetite, lethargy, excessive hiding and meowing, lameness, rapid breathing, and fever. Some tumors can be controlled with medication. If not, surgery may be an option.


Persistent coughing, as well as labored breathing, fever, bluish mouth, nasal discharge, lack of appetite, and coughing up blood and mucus, can be a sign of pneumonia. This condition can be diagnosed with X-rays and may respond to antibiotics and other therapies.

Tight collars

If your cat's collar is putting pressure on their windpipe it can cause damage and lead to a cough.


Worms are common in felines. It’s one of the reasons why your pet gets regular blood and fecal exams at their veterinarian's office. If your cat has worms, they may also exhibit on top of a cough, a change in the color of their gums, increased appetite, weight loss, or dark and tarry stools. You may even notice the visible presence of worms in your cat's vomit, stool, or on your cat's fur.

Treatments for Your Cat's Cough

The methods used to treat your cat's cough will depend on its underlying cause. Don’t attempt to treat your kitty's cough without talking to your vet first.

If your cat has been coughing and sneezing, the treatment plan could consist of cough suppressants, antibiotics, steroids, or other drugs, and even surgery, but you should work with your vet to find the best option.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your cat been coughing? Contact our Oakland vets right away to arrange emergency care.

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