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

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

If your cat's purring has started to turn into coughing, it may mean that something is irritating their airways, throat, or lungs. Today, our St. Louis vets discuss potential causes of coughing in cats, and how it may be treated. 

Why is My Cat Coughing?

Even if your cat has only a minor illness, watching your beloved pet cough can be concerning. A cat can become agitated and apprehensive, and each cough looks like it may be the last. 

If your cat's cough is severe or ongoing, it's imperative that you bring them to a vet immediately, as this qualifies as a veterinary emergency. Our experienced veterinarians in St. Louis can officially diagnose the issue and provide treatment.

Common Causes of Coughing in Cats


Kitties who spend at least part of their time outdoors are at higher risk for asthma, the most common feline respiratory disorder. Your cat may experience a cough, along with wheezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and open-mouth breathing. 


If allergies are the culprit, your feline companion may also be sneezing, and experiencing itchy skin, bloating, gas, and vomiting. 

Congestive Heart Failure 

Coughing is one potential symptom of congestive heart failure. Your vet may be able to diagnose this serious problem with an electrocardiogram or ultrasound. Lethargy, weight loss, abdominal bloating, and loss of consciousness are other signs of congestive heart failure. 

Fungal Lung Infection 

If your outdoor cat picks up a fungus from the soil, they may begin to cough. And, depending on the type of fungal infection they have, your cat may also experience bloody discharge from the nose, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sneezing, difficulty breathing, blindness, anemia, weight loss, cysts under the skin, and more. 


Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos. If you live in an area with these bugs, your cat has a higher risk of getting this condition. You can get medicine from your vet to help prevent this issue. The symptoms of heartworm disease in cats typically look like other cat illnesses such as coughing, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, lethargy, weight loss, and vomiting.

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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Animal Emergency Clinic is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from St. Louis and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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