If your cat is coughing, you can try a few things at home and if these tips don't work, ask your vet these questions.

Coughing in Cats

Symptoms, Causes & Natural Remedies

If your cat is coughing on a regular basis, it’s imperative that we find the root cause and take measures to correct it. Coughing “is a protective reflex designed to clear away irritants in the throat, voice box, windpipe, or airways.” A cough is also the body’s way of preventing aspiration of fluids or foreign matter into the lungs, but it can disrupt breathing patterns as well. In this guide we’ll discuss common issues that cause coughing in cats as well as natural ways to help. 

Symptoms of Coughing in Cats

If your cat has an occasional, infrequent cough, it’s usually not cause for concern. However, if the cough continues and becomes chronic we will need to have them checked by a veterinarian. Here are some signs and other symptoms to watch for:

  • Wheezing
  • Panting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory distress
  • Stretching out neck near the ground to clear throat

Causes of Coughing in Cats

There are many serious and not-so-serious reasons that cats cough. We will list them below. If one or more of these resonate, please make necessary adjustments and/or ask your vet to run testing specific to the ailment.

Environmental Irritants That Can Cause Coughing In Cats

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Dusty litter
  • Chemical detergents
  • Candles
  • Incense
  • Toxic air molecules
  • Chemical household cleaners

More Serious Ailments That Can Cause Coughing In Cats

  • Asthma
  • Sinus inflammation
  • Bacterial, fungal, viral infection
  • Bronchial foreign body
  • Disease of the larynx
  • Polyp(s) in the throat
  • Lung, esophagus or lymph node disease
  • Inflammation or infection of the trachea
  • Heartworm
  • Lungworm
  • Tumors
  • Inflammation or infection of the trachea
  • Blood clot in lungs

Natural Treatments for Coughing in Cats

If your cat’s cough isn’t frequent, it’s important to first check their environment. Remove any possible irritants in the home and use an air purifier to help clean the breathing space for your kitty. 

Dr. Karen Becker, DVM provides the following information for treatment of coughing in cats:

Treatment Approaches

“The goal of treatment is to identify and resolve the underlying cause of your cat’s cough, along with controlling the cough itself.

Treatment may require hospitalization in cases of significant disease. Oxygen will be administered to kitties who have trouble breathing. Antimicrobials may be required to resolve infection, and cough suppressants may or may not be given. Typically, suppressing the cough doesn’t fix the problem, and can actually mask it, allowing it to worsen undetected.

Cats with a cough should not be exposed to airway irritants of any kind. Make sure your furnace filters are changed as often as necessary, and if possible, invest in an air purifier as well.

If you’re a smoker, I recommend not smoking in your house, and be sure to wash your hands before handling your cat. I also recommend providing only organic cat beds and sleeping surfaces that are free of PBDEs (flame retardants).

Your cat should be provided a stress-free living environment, and if she’s overweight, she should be safely and gradually dieted down to a healthy size.

Under no circumstances should you ever administer human medications to your cat. Even very small amounts of over-the-counter drugs such as Robitussin, aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can be extremely toxic to feline family members.

It’s also important to follow dosing directions carefully if your veterinarian gives you a medication for your cat. Kitties are exceptionally sensitive to many medications and natural remedies, so it’s important to be alert and aware when administering any sort of drug or supplement.”

There are also a variety of homeopathic remedies, teas, supplements and herbs that can help cats who are coughing. 

Recommendations from Dr. Katie Woodley, The Natural Pet Doctor

  • Pear water. Boil pears and mix the water into the food. It’s great therapy for the lungs. 
  • Reishi or button mushrooms (preferably in tincture form)
  • Freeze dried lung (feeding lung helps support your cat’s lungs)

Recommendations from Holistic Cat Therapist, Julie-Anne Thorne with Naturally Cats

  • One drop of German chamomile essential oil onto a piece of fabric for cats who are coughing from allergies
  • Dried organic peppermint herb. Opens airways and soothes throat muscles.
  • One drop of Frankincense essential oil onto a piece of fabric for cats who are coughing due to anxiety.

 

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