Common Causes & Treatments for Your Cat’s Coughing

If you have a cat, you might have seen them coughing now and then. Coughing is not a symptom that should be ignored in cats, but it’s not always a sign of something too serious either.

In this article, we’ll show you some of the most common causes of coughing in cats and let you know some treatments to consider. Read through this information to learn more about what to expect from your cat’s coughing moving forward. If you have any questions, call Parkway Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Lakeland at (863) 665-3199.

cat coughing in lakeland, fl


Bacterial or viral infection

Both bacterial and viral infections can cause coughing in cats. Cats are prone to developing respiratory infections and may catch these illnesses easily, especially if they’re allowed outdoors or are kept in a boarding facility near other cats for any length of time.


Asthma is not very common in cats, but it’s also not impossible. Cats may sometimes suffer from asthma and may have serious asthma attacks as a result of this condition. If you think your cat might have asthma, a vet will need to diagnose the condition by ruling out other possibilities.


Cats with allergies to plants, pollen, smoke, dust, and other contaminants in the environment may be prone to developing coughing fits when exposed to these allergens. Additionally, some cats with food allergies may have them so severely that they develop a cough as a result of the food allergy.


If your cat coughs a little bit, then seems to throw up and feels fine afterward, this is probably a hairball. You will usually be able to see a clump of hair in the vomit that your cat spits up after a hairball attack. Hairballs are benign and are nothing to be worried about.


Tumors can cause coughing in cats, depending on where they’re located. Nasal tumors may lead to both sneezing and coughing, while lung tumors may cause severe coughing fits. Your vet will need to thoroughly examine your cat to diagnose any potential tumors and will work with you to figure out a treatment or management option from there.

Inhalation of foreign object

If your cat swallows or inhales a foreign object—such as a piece of food or part of a toy—this can lead to coughing. Your cat will likely appear to be in distress if this happens and maybe having difficulty breathing as well. If this happens, get them to an emergency vet right away.

Treatment and Management


Bacterial infections may need to be treated with antibiotics. Additionally, some vets may give antibiotics to prevent bacterial infection in cats who are suffering from a viral infection; viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, however. Your vet will give you more information about the medication prescribed to your cat.


If your cat suffers from severe asthma, steroids may be the only way to help calm down a severe acute asthma attack. Your vet will need to provide the steroids and may give them as an injection or as an oral medication. Ask the vet if you have any concerns about your cat using this medication.

Allergy medication

Your vet can prescribe allergy medication for your cat if his allergies are serious. This medicine may need to be given daily or might only need to be given as needed, depending on your cat’s specific allergies.


A humidifier can make it easier for cats to breathe well, especially if they have asthma or serious allergies. If you use a humidifier in a room with your cat, make sure to place it on a high shelf that your cat can’t reach and secure it carefully so it can’t be tipped over.

Management of food

Cats with severe food allergies contributing to their coughing issues may need to have their food managed. Try putting your cat on a healthy, high-quality food with only a few ingredients, as this can help.


If your cat has a tumor or has inhaled a foreign object, he may require surgery. Tumors may also need to be treated through chemotherapy or other means. Your vet can talk with you more about these potential treatment options for your cat.


There are a lot of potential causes of coughing in cats, and some of them are more serious than others. If you suspect your cat may have a moderate or severe problem, be sure to take them to the vet right away for a complete workup. The vet can also let you know the right management or treatment options for your cat.

Additionally, if you’re having trouble getting your cat’s coughing under control or if the coughing is causing your cat to have difficulty breathing, talk to an emergency vet or urgent care vet as soon as possible. They will help diagnose the problem and can assist with both acute and chronic illnesses. Parkway Veterinary Emergency Clinic is here when you need us. Call us at (863) 665-3199.

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At Parkway Veterinary Emergency Clinic, our team consists of experienced veterinarians and veterinary professionals dedicated to providing exceptional after-hours emergency vet care to the pet community of Lakeland.