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Help! My cat won't stop coughing, what's wrong?

Help! My cat won't stop coughing, what's wrong?

Has your cat’s purr has turned into a cough? Coughing is a sign that something is irritating your kitty's lungs, airway or throat. Some causes of cat coughing or wheezing are easy to treat while others are much more serious. Today, our Cordova emergency vets explain some of the reasons why your cat may be coughing. 

Why is My Cat Coughing?

Regardless the cause,  watching your cat cough can be upsetting. Often when cats are coughing they become agitated and apprehensive, making it appear as if each cough will be their last.

If your kitty has an ongoing or severe cough, it's important to have your cat examined by a vet right away so they are able to diagnose and treat the cause of your cat's coughing. The nature of your cat's cough along with other findings can help your vet to diagnose the underlying cause and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Causes of Cat Coughing

There are a number of different reasons why your cat may be wheezing, coughing or sneezing. Below are a few of the most common: 


  • Asthma is the most common feline respiratory disorder that our Cordova emergency vets see. Cats who spend at least part of their time outdoors are more likely to develop asthma and may experience a cough as a symptom of the condition.


  • Like people, cats can also suffer from allergies that make them cough and sneeze or wheeze. 

Fungal Lung Infection

  • If your kitty spends time outdoors they could pick up a fungus from the soil, and coughing is a common symptom. Fungal infections are most easily treated when caught early.


  • Heartworm disease is a deadly condition spread by mosquitos. Preventative medications are available from your vet that can help to protect your cat against this very serious disease.

Lung Cancer

  • Lung cancer is another potential cause of a cat cough. Some tumors can be controlled with medication. If not, surgery may be an option.


  • Cat coughing can be a sign of pneumonia. Pneumonia in cats can be diagnosed with x-rays and may respond to antibiotics and other therapies. 

Congestive Heart Failure

  • Shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing can all be signs of congestive heart failure in cats. If your cat is struggling to breathe it's time to see your vet. Heart failure can be diagnosed using ultrasound or electrocardiogram.

Tight collars

  • If your cat's collar is too tight it can put pressure on your kitty’s windpipe causing damage and leading to a cough.


  • Worms are particularly common in felines. It’s one reason your kitty should have regular blood and fecal tests at the vet. These tests can help to detect parasites early when they are most easily treated.

Treatment for Cat Coughing

Treatment for breathing problems and coughing in cats will depend upon the underlying cause. Do not try to treat your cat without the guidance of your vet.  Following a thorough examination your vet may prescribe cough suppressants, antibiotics, steroids or other drugs to treat your cat's health issue.

Is your cat having difficulties breathing, coughing or wheezing? Our Cordova emergency vets are available to care for your feline friend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit our emergency animal hospital any time your cat needs urgent care.

From Happy Pet Owners

  • “What a wonderful alternative when something happens to your babies outside normal vet hours. They treated us and my kitty like family. Explained everything and fixed him right up. He’s not enjoying the cone, but his stitches look great. Thank you to the whole team!”
    Kelly C.

Contact (901) 624-9002