Causes and Treatments for Your Cat’s Coughing

Have you noticed your cat coughing a lot lately? Do you want to find out what might be causing this problem? Coughing isn’t too uncommon for cats, but sometimes, it can signify a much more serious underlying problem.

cat coughing in bolingbrook, il

Common Causes

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most common causes of coughing in cats and let you know the treatments for these problems, too. Remember, however, that you should always take your cat to the veterinarian for a full exam if you think there’s anything serious going on, and follow the guidance given by your vet as well. Feel free to call Boughton Square Animal Clinic in Bolingbrook at (630) 759-0093.


One of the most common causes of coughing in cats is hairballs. Cats who have hairballs may start coughing and end up spitting up. This is because they are actually coughing up the hairball, which you might be able to see after they spit up.

If your cat only has one hairball every now and then, there isn’t anything that needs to be done. If they have them frequently, however, you may need to give them an over-the-counter hairball medication to help them digest properly and cut down on them.


Cats are prone to developing allergies. Your cat may be allergic to pollen, plants, certain smells in your home, or their food, and any of these problems can potentially lead to coughing. If your cat coughs from allergies, they may also have a runny nose or watery eyes, although this is not always the case.

Many cats with allergies don’t need any treatment, as the problem is often seasonal. However, your vet may prescribe your cat a cough medication if their coughing is very significant. The vet may also give your cat a round of steroids, especially if they seem to be suffering badly from their allergies.


Cats may sometimes develop asthma as well. This problem is not widely understood in cats yet, but it is becoming more and more known among veterinary professionals. Cats who are diagnosed with asthma may have frequent coughing and wheezing fits, much like humans with asthma do.

Your vet may prescribe steroid medication to help your cat during a bad asthma flare-up. Your cat may also be given a feline inhaler treatment. However, many vets recommend simply helping your cat by providing a humidifier in the room where they usually sleep and cutting down on allergens in their environment.

Respiratory Infection

If your cat becomes sick from an acute respiratory infection, they may develop a cough from this as well. They may also sneeze, wheeze, or have rattling breath, and they might have watery eyes or a runny nose as well. Cats are very prone to coming down with respiratory illnesses.

Your vet will run some tests to diagnose your cat’s respiratory illness. Some illnesses may be treated with antibiotics, while others may simply require your cat to rest and get enough fluids until they feel better. Your vet can give you more information about your cat’s diagnosis.

Airway Blockage

Many cats have a habit of trying to swallow items they shouldn’t. When this happens, there is a risk that the item could cause an airway blockage in your cat’s throat, mouth, or nasal passage. This will cause an acute bout of coughing and your cat will likely appear to be in a lot of distress.

If you think your cat has swallowed or inhaled a foreign object, take them to the emergency vet immediately. The vet will need to surgically remove the item so your cat will be able to breathe properly again.

Lung Cancer

One of the more serious underlying causes of coughing in cats is lung cancer. Your vet will need to perform diagnostic tests to determine whether or not your cat has lung cancer as well as how serious the problem is. If your cat has a chronic cough and seems to be very sick overall otherwise, cancer could be the cause.

You will need to work with your vet to create a plan of action for your cat moving forward. Your cat may be a good candidate for chemotherapy or surgery to remove the cancer, but some cats may not be able to go through these treatments.

Treating Your Cat’s Cough

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why a cat might be coughing. Although they aren’t all serious, some of them are, and it’s important to take your cat to the vet to get to the bottom of any problems like this. Your vet can check out your cat in person and provide accurate information about your individual pet’s needs. Your vet will also help work with you to figure out the right treatment plan moving forward. Call Boughton Square Animal Clinic today at (630) 759-0093.

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About Boughton Square Animal Clinic

Since 1979, Boughton Square Animal Clinic has served Bolingbrook, IL and surrounding communities as both a veterinary care provider and a devoted partner in treating your animal family members for life.