When any part of your cat's respiratory system becomes
irritated, she may develop a cough. Coughing can be
related to many things, including heartworm disease,
allergies, infection, lung parasites, heart failure, or a mass
in the chest. Because a cough can signify several different
problems, you should schedule a veterinarian appointment
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam and first
determine whether your cat is truly coughing; surprisingly, what sounds
like a cough may actually be gagging, wheezing, or labored breathing.
If your cat is actually coughing, your veterinarian will evaluate the type
and frequency of cough to try to pinpoint the cause:
||A hacking, "honking" cough is generally associated
with diseases of the large airways.
||Subtle, half-hearted coughing could be a sign
of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs).
||A "moist-sounding" cough may indicate an infection
of the lungs or congestive heart failure.
A cough is either productive (bringing up watery fluid, pus, or blood) or
non-productive (producing sound only). Productive coughing is usually
associated with a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Non-productive
coughing may indicate allergic lung disease or early heart disease.
Your veterinarian may also perform diagnostic tests,
including: chest x-rays, ultrasound, a complete
blood count (CBC), a blood chemistry profile,
urinalysis, a heartworm test, a fecal exam, a feline
leukemia test, and other more in-depth tests.
Treat ment depends on the cough's cause
Bacterial pneumonia, for example, will require antibiotics
and supportive care. A chest mass will require surgery,
chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of all
three. A cough caused by heart disease will require therapy
to correct or strengthen the heart.
Your veterinarian will not take steps to suppress a productive
cough, since your cat's body is already trying to rid itself
of the problem. If your cat's cough is non-productive, your
veterinarian may prescribe a cough suppressant. NEVER use
a human cough suppressant, as it could poison your cat.
Any cough is cause for concern
Your cat's cough could be a self-limiting nuisance or a
sign of a serious illness. To prevent conditions that cause
coughing, keep your cat as healthy as possible. Feed her a
quality diet appropriate for her age, keep her vaccinations
current, and follow a parasite control program that prevents
heartworms and intestinal worms. And, as always, see your