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Why won't my cat stop coughing?

Has your cat’s purr turned into a cough? Coughing is a sign that something is irritating your kitty's lungs, airway, or throat. Today, our Seattle vets explain some reasons why your cat may be coughing, and what you can do to help.

Why is my cat coughing?

Regardless of the cause, watching your cat cough can be upsetting. Often, when cats are coughing, they become agitated and apprehensive. This can it appear as if each cough will be their last.

If your cat has a persistent or severe cough, it's critical to have them looked at by a vet as soon as possible. The vet should be able to diagnose the cause recommend treatment.

Causes of Cat Coughing

Several reasons exist why your cat may be wheezing, coughing, or sneezing. Below are a few of the most common: 


  • Asthma is the most common feline respiratory disorder that veterinarians see. Cats who spend at least some of their time outside are may develop asthma, and a cough may be a symptom of the condition.


  • Like people, cats can also suffer from allergies that make them cough and sneeze or wheeze. 

Fungal Lung Infection

  • If your cat spends time outside, he or she may contract a fungus from the soil, and coughing is a common symptom. Fungal infections are easier to treat when detected early.


  • Heartworm disease is a fatal mosquito-borne disease. Parasite prevention is available from your vet. It can help protect your cat from this potentially fatal disease.

Lung Cancer

  • Lung cancer is another potential cause of a cat cough. Some tumors can be controlled with medication. If not, surgery may be an option.


  • Cat coughing can be a sign of pneumonia. Vets can diagnose pneumonia in cats with X-rays. For treatment, cats may respond to antibiotics and other therapies. 

Congestive Heart Failure

  • Shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing are all symptoms of congestive heart failure. It's time to take your cat to the vet if he or she is having trouble breathing. Ultrasound or an electrocardiogram can be used to diagnose heart failure.

Tight collars

  • If your cat's collar is too tight it can put pressure on your kitty’s windpipe causing damage and leading to a cough.


  • Worms are common in cats. It's one of the reasons your cat should have blood and fecal tests at the vet on a regular basis. These tests can aid in the early detection of parasites, when they are most treatable.

Treating Your Cat's Cough

Treatment for coughing in cats will depend upon the underlying cause. Do not try to treat your cat without the guidance of your vet.  Following an exam, your vet may prescribe cough suppressants, antibiotics, steroids, or other drugs.

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.

Do you think your cat's cough warrants a veterinary emergency? Contact our Seattle vets any time your cat needs urgent care.

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