August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

An occasional cough can be normal for a cat, actually helping clear the airway. If your cat's coughing is mild and there are no other symptoms such as nasal discharge or lethargy, monitoring him/her for the next couple of days may be all that is needed.

Signs that Your Cat Needs to See a Veterinarian

  • Cough persists for more than just a few days
  • Frequency and/or severity of the cough worsens
  • Coughing that produces phlegm, especially if it is discolored or contains blood
  • Coughing that is accompanied by other signs of illness (e.g., sneezing/nasal discharge, yellow or green eye discharge, vomiting, lethargy, not eating)

What You Can Do in the Meantime

  • Keep the living area clean and free of dust particles and foreign matter that can be inhaled. This will protect the cat's respiratory tract from further aggravation.
  • Make sure that your cat has a clear airway. Check for objects stuck in the back of the throat.

Common Causes of Coughing

  • Respiratory tract infections (viral, bacterial, and parasitic)
  • Pneumonia
  • Asthma
  • Foreign bodies in the respiratory tract

Treatment of Coughing

  • Treatment of any underlying infectious cause. This may include broad spectrum antibiotics or anti-parasitic medications.
  • Removal of any foreign bodies obstructing the respiratory tract.
  • Medications to suppress coughing may be given.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs may be used, particularly if your cat has asthma.
  • In severe cases where your cat is having difficult or labored breathing, treatment may involve hospitalization for supplemental oxygen.

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