Coughing in cats is a fairly infrequent phenomenon, much more rare than, for example, in dogs. But in any case, this is an occasion to beware and urgently establish the cause of such an alarming symptom. So why can your cat cough?
Causes and types of coughing in cats
Cats cough like humans do. But our pets have somewhat different reasons for the cough, and its mechanism itself. In most cases, in this way the animal reflexively protects itself by squeezing out small foreign bodies or sputum from the respiratory tract.
Many ignorant owners so humanize their pets that they attribute to them the same diseases that a person suffers. This common misconception has nothing to do with reality - respiratory infections that exist in humans are not transmitted to cats, and they, in turn, are not able to infect the owner with their feline flu, for example.
How a cat coughs
During coughing attacks, pets can scare their owners, especially inexperienced ones. Coughing, many cats take a special, rather tense pose: they bend, almost clinging to the floor, and stretch their heads forward. At the same time, loud rattles often break out from their throats, and the whole body shudders in convulsions resembling strong vomiting.
Instinctively, the cat assumes the most comfortable posture in order to clear his throat.
Outwardly, the picture is such that the simplest conclusion suggests itself: the cat choked on something. Having made such a “diagnosis”, the caring owner immediately begins to try to extract from the throat of the darling what, in his opinion, got there. Such an ambulance in most cases is meaningless, and sometimes very harmful.
The fact is that a cough does not always indicate: a cat choked on a certain subject. But if this is indeed so, it is very dangerous to remove a foreign body from a cat's throat without experience and special devices.
Why and how do cats cough? The cat's medulla oblongata “leads” the cough - this is where the cough center is located, in which the animal’s nervous system transmits special signals. Special sensitive receptors located in reflexogenic (cough) zones receive these signals:
- around the vocal cords;
- on the walls of the larynx;
- on the border of the trachea and bronchi.
Attacks of excruciating cough may be accompanied by vomiting
Annoying under the influence of any factors, receptors signal an alarm. After receiving these messages, the cough center gives its command - and the cat coughs. In fact, it looks like sharp exhalations, in which the air is jerked spontaneously from the lungs, evacuating along the route all that is unnecessary and harmful from the respiratory tract:
- foreign objects;
- pus and mucus.
When preparing for a visit to the clinic, try to determine the characteristics of the cough of your animal - what is its strength, volume and duration; how is changing in dynamics. These are very important observations, they will contribute to a more accurate and quick diagnosis. Veterinarians differentiate cough in cats into the following varieties:
- by duration - acute (from a couple of days to several weeks) and chronic (lasts several months and even years);
- by force - mild cough, strong, superficial, deep, tearing and debilitating, sometimes accompanied by vomiting;
- timbre - voiced or muffled;
- by the presence or absence of secretions and their nature: dry cough or wet with mucus, as well as purulent or bloody sputum;
- by manifestation - rare, frequent and constant, it also matters at what time of day it appears;
- by season - this is mainly how the allergic nature of a cough is determined.
How to diagnose the cause of cough
Coughing is much less common than humans, and this external symptom is a warning sign. It is possible that a serious illness makes itself felt so that your pet needs to be urgently shown to a doctor. At the first stage, the main task of the veterinarian is to exclude or confirm situations that threaten the patient's life and require emergency intervention.
After all, if, for example, if you do not timely remove an object that has clogged the airways or the digestive tract, the animal will soon die; ignored severe asthma attack, and throat edema caused by allergies can lead to the same sad outcome.
The diagnosis of dangerous infections, in which coughing can also occur, is very important - we are talking primarily about panleukopenia, the so-called cat distemper, epidemics of which often occur among street animals. If the pet does not get vaccinated on time, it can easily become infected.
Only a doctor, using various diagnostic methods, can name the cause of cough
Without an accurate diagnosis, treatment will not produce results. Therefore, after a clinical examination, the doctor usually immediately prescribes a chest x-ray and a complete blood count. Based on the results of these basic studies, additional ones may be assigned:
- blood biochemistry;
- blood test for immunoglobulin E;
- urinalysis and feces;
Video: why the cat coughs - we determine the reasons
Inquisitive cats and playful kittens often suffer from the fact that they swallow small inedible pieces from toys or even from the most unexpected objects and choke on them. The insidiousness of this trouble also lies in the fact that not in any case the reason lies on the surface.
I know a situation in which a teenage kitten managed to “vacuum” the ustyuk - a sharp seed from a ripened spikelet. The cough began literally right away, but a foreign body could not be detected on X-ray. The prescribed treatment did not bring relief, while the Ustyuk, meanwhile, dug somewhere into the wall of the airways, inflammation, suppuration formed there ...
The kitten’s condition worsened: in addition to a painful cough, there was already a high fever and a refusal of food — a little more, and the baby would simply be lost due to such nonsense. We must pay tribute to the owners - they fought for their favorite, changed doctors, searched for diagnostic methods. Bronchoscopy helped - with its help, finally, it turned out to find this very ustyuk, already completely soaked and semi-decomposed. When it was removed, it was no longer possible to decide on further treatment - the sufferer quickly recovered.
Seeds from such spikelets easily fall into the nasopharynx and can be very dangerous for a cat or kitten
Small objects that a cat can choke on can not only injure the larynx or trachea, but also cause very dangerous problems: asphyxiation or obstruction of the esophagus. When an animal tries to clear the airways of foreign objects, a characteristic “choking” cough occurs.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the pet cannot solve the problem on its own, and our inept efforts to help him do more harm than good. Items that have got into the respiratory tract often have to be removed surgically, and after surgery, resuscitation measures will be needed.
Video: cat clears throat, clearing the airways
Respiratory cough in a cat can cause infectious diseases:
In such cases, it is especially important to identify the cause of ill health at the earliest stages of infection, so that the development of the infection does not lead to serious consequences. The following infectious and inflammatory diseases of cats are accompanied by a cough:
Avoid contacting your pet cat with sick animals
In the diagnosis of these ailments, one cannot rely only on coughing, since it is already a rather late symptom and occurs in a complicated course, when the upper respiratory tract or lungs become inflamed (pneumonia). At first, a respiratory cough is frequent and quite sonorous - it is dry, torn and can cause suffering to the animal.
By the second or third day of the disease, the cough becomes more productive, deaf and wet - sputum begins to separate. The process is usually accompanied by additional symptoms:
- suppuration of the eyes;
- discharge from the nose;
- general weakness;
- elevated temperature.
Almost all respiratory infections are transmitted by airborne droplets. It is also possible to introduce infection into the house on the soles of the shoes of the owner or guests.
Cardiac (coughing) cough
In heart failure, attacks of cardiac cough are a concomitant symptom of the disease; should pay attention to the main signs of the disease:
- shortness of breath
- hard breath.
Animals predisposed to heart disease should always be in the center of your attention.
In this case, it is advisable to contact not just a veterinarian, but specifically a veterinarian cardiologist who will prescribe a number of additional tests to the patient, including a cardiogram, and possibly an ultrasound scan of the heart. The fact is that cardiac cough, especially in the early stages, is very difficult to distinguish from other types of cough.
At first, a false impression is made that the cat choked on food or some other trifle; over time, the intensity of the cough increases. Why is this happening? For various reasons, the myocardium (cardiac muscle) begins to thicken, which complicates the pumping of blood in the required volumes. The heart grows in size and presses on the respiratory organs located next to it, irritating the corresponding receptors - and they already signal to the cough center.
Video: cat heart coughing fit
In case of helminthic infestations, one of the manifestations of which is also often a cough, one should be careful with the use of antiparasitic drugs, since an organism weakened by helminths, with their mass death, can seriously suffer from intoxication. Digestive upsets also occur, and as a result, severe dehydration.
In the case of severe invasion, it is better to give drugs under the supervision of a doctor to quickly monitor the response of the body.
Allergy and bronchial asthma
The most common cause of coughing in cats is bronchial asthma, when an allergic reaction manifests itself, including through a cough. The sense of smell in these domestic animals is very sensitive and susceptible to various allergens, among which are:
- cigarette smoke;
- detergents and powders;
- air fresheners, perfumes and deodorants.
Bulk substances, even ordinary flour, can provoke an allergic cough in a cat
As a rule, the disease first makes itself felt at the age of three to five years. Many cats suffer from the disease - veterinarians claim that asthmatics make up one percent of the total population of the species Felis silvestris catus. It must be understood that asthma in cats is a chronic pathology that begins due to an excessive immune response to a certain antigen, which as a result leads to inflammation of the lower respiratory tract.
Video: asthma is a common cause of coughing in cats
Tumors and metastasis to the lung tissue can also cause coughing. Similar pathologies are more often found in age-related animals older than eight years.
X-ray of the lungs of a cat shows metastases in the lungs, which provokes a cough
Specific diagnosis is able at an early stage to detect the presence of cancerous tumors - in this case, they can be treated both surgical and drug treatment. If the disease is started, and a cough indicates the presence of lung metastases, then the animal can be maintained using chemotherapy and radiation therapy to prevent the disease from spreading even more.
Traumatic and complex causes of cough
The cause of coughing is also the accumulation of air, fluid, or even pus in the chest. If we are talking about liquids, then this phenomenon is called hydrothorax, and various factors can provoke it:
- allergic reactions;
- heart failure;
For an accurate diagnosis, it is necessary to make and examine a puncture of the contents of the chest.
Pneumothorax (accumulation of air in the chest cavity) and pyothorax (accumulation of pus) are most often traumatic in nature - they occur after bumps, falls, fights and possible infection.
Cats often fight and injure each other with claws, thus causing an infection
All these pleuritic phenomena are by no means harmless. The development of pneumothorax occurs very quickly - the air bursts into the chest and compresses the lungs, the animal loses the ability to breathe and dies from suffocation.
If any of the described pathologies is suspected, an X-ray examination should be done as soon as possible and, based on its results, measures of operative action followed by drug therapy should be applied.
What to do if a cat coughs
Independently determine the nature of the cough in a cat and even its type can be any careful owner. But here to understand the reason for what is happening, and even more so to take the complex of measures necessary for healing a pet, alas, it will not work at home. This will require a personal examination of a specialist, additional diagnostic tests and equipment that is available only in the clinic.
It’s important to understand that a cat’s cough is by no means an independent disease, but only a symptom, “a manifestation of one of a hundred diseases,” as old veterinarians used to say. You need to look for the cause and eliminate it - and not try to cure the cough itself.
Is it possible to help the animal on its own
At home, you can only alleviate the condition of the cat before visiting a veterinarian. The air in the room where the animal is located should be fresh and humid - ventilate the room, but in no case leave the sick pet in a draft, this will only exacerbate the problem. Inhalation over steam, which should not be too hot, can bring relief to a cat - such a procedure is available at home even without any special devices.
Try to calm your pet as much as possible. Cats are very sensitive and emotional, sharp attacks can scare them, which makes the cough worse, and the situation as a whole will get worse. Caress the bewildered animal - it trusts you and should feel that a loving owner will take care of it.
It is necessary to deliver the coughing pet to the doctor as soon as possible, because he can get real help only after a qualified diagnosis. It is also important not to give the cat any medicine before visiting the clinic . Firstly, the effect of the drugs will “lubricate” the symptoms of the disease and complicate the diagnosis. Secondly, coughing is not a harmless problem at all, only an experienced specialist has the right to prescribe medications for its treatment, and only if he has clearly defined the causes of this symptom.
Provided that the diagnosis is clearly made and the reason for the cough is clearly defined, the doctor can use many modern tools for its treatment. But the exact and timely diagnosis was and remains the starting point of any successful healing.
Table: treatment prescribed for different types of cough
|Reason for cough||General therapy||Preparations|
- in the early stages - symptomatic treatment;
- if the parasitic infection is too launched - operation
- bronchodilator drugs;
- anthelmintic agents;
- hepato- and cardioprotectors
|Feline flu and other infections|
- symptomatic treatment (buffer mixtures, heavy drinking);
- in case of bacterial infections - antibiotics
- anti-inflammatory drugs;
- buffer solutions;
- fresh air or oxygen mask;
- in more severe cases, symptomatic treatment;
- complete cure usually does not occur, with exacerbation of the disease its symptoms are stopped
- hormones (steroid drugs);
- restorative therapy
- elimination of parasitic infection;
- helminth decomposition products intoxication treatment;
- general strengthening of the body, supporting immunity
- antiparasitic drugs;
- infusion solutions;
- depending on the degree and location of the injury - the main treatment;
- restoration of damaged organs and systems
- anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics;
- wound healing and restorative medicines;
- fortifying agents
|Polyps and tumors|
- surgical removal of neoplasms;
- subsequent rehabilitation treatment;
- if necessary - courses of chemo- and radiation therapy
- depending on the diagnosis, a course of antitumor therapy;
- supporting drugs;
- restorative and general strengthening means
Video: treatment of coughing in cats
It is strictly forbidden to use antitussive or expectorant drugs on your own, without a doctor’s prescription. Wrong choice or inaccurate dosage of the drug may not cure the cat, but rather worsen its condition - lead to complications of the disease and dangerous side effects.
But the information about what are antitussive drugs, we hope, will be useful for each owner. These medicines, by the nature of their action, are divided into two large subgroups: blocking and expectorant. There are also medications that combine both of these qualities and have a complex effect - mainly human preparations, and not every one of them will benefit the cat.
“Harmless” children's cough syrups (as well as adults) do not categorically fit cats. These pharmacy sweets are not always useful for people, given the high content of sugar, flavorings, dyes and other improvers. And cats definitely do not need to give such medicines. They also do not suit means that contain alcohol or codeine.
Blocking drugs are good because they quickly relieve the animal of painful and painful coughing attacks. But such medicines do not cure its cause, but simply “turn off” the cough center, blocking its functions. The cough is thus masked as a symptom, but the disease is not treated, and the situation worsens. Such drugs can only be prescribed as part of complex therapy, but by no means independently.
Expectorant antitussive drugs have proven themselves well in the treatment of coughs of an infectious nature. By diluting dense sputum and promoting its elimination, such drugs not only help ease the breathing of the animal, but also clear its airways of pathogenic microflora - bacteria and viruses that have become the causative agents of the disease.
Table: Veterinary Coughing Drugs for Cats
|Drug name||Release form||Act||Estimated price|
|Divopride||Cough tablets for dogs and cats|
- relieve inflammation;
- reduce the acidity and viscosity of sputum;
- contribute to expectoration;
- stop and soften a spasm
|120 rubles per pack of 50 tablets|
|VetExpert VeTussin||Cough Syrup for Dogs and Cats|
- softens too dense sputum;
- has a pronounced expectorant effect;
- softens a sharp painful cough
|100 rubles per bottle 100 milliliters|
|Zoohels||Cough tablets for dogs and cats|
- contribute to the elimination of sputum;
- increase respiratory activity;
- improve smooth muscle function and epithelium of the respiratory system
|60 rubles per pack of 20 tablets|
|Helvet Lobelon||Homeopathic antitussive drug for the treatment of respiratory diseases, injection|
- treats inflammatory processes;
- relieves allergy symptoms;
- liquefies sputum;
- enhances lung ventilation
|350 rubles per bottle 10 milliliters|
Medicinal herbs and cough collection
Treating a cat’s cough with folk methods and herbs at its own discretion, and not according to the doctor’s recommendations, can do no less harm than medical self-medication - it is easy to translate the disease into a critical course, but it is simply impossible to reverse it at times.
It is impossible to indiscriminately recommend means from a natural pharmacy for treating a cat’s cough - even using the safest of them, you should rely heavily on the experience and advice of a veterinarian whom you trust. If the doctor does not mind, then the natural preparations listed below can be used for kittens and pregnant cats, using them both inside and in the form of inhalations.
Licorice root broth
An ancient herbal remedy to alleviate cough and sputum. Effectively, hypoallergenic.
- crushed licorice roots - 1 tablespoon with a slide;
- purified water - 1 cup.
Dried licorice root must be well ground before use.
- Medicinal raw materials are poured with cold water in the evening and left to infuse until the morning.
- On a small fire, the mixture is brought to a boil under a lid.
- Reduce the heat to a minimum and boil the broth for 12-15 minutes.
- Cool, filter.
- Adult animals are given an incomplete teaspoon of the broth three to four times a day, not combining with meals.
Infusion of leaves of coltsfoot
One of the most famous medicinal plants with a strong expectorant effect.
- dry or fresh grass of coltsfoot - 1.5–2 teaspoons;
- boiling water - 1 cup.
For infusions use the entire aerial part of coltsfoot, but most often - leaves
- Rub the medicinal raw material in your palms a little and pour it into a thick-walled (preferably ceramic) dish.
- Pour the prepared coltsfoot with freshly boiled water, cover tightly and leave in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.
- Filter the infusion ready and pour into a clean container.
- To give a sick cat to improve expectoration three times a day, warming up the infusion before each use.
Plantain leaf infusion
Great healing and anti-inflammatory natural remedy; well removes sputum and promotes tissue regeneration.
- freshly plantain leaves - 1–2 pieces;
- hot water - 0.5 liters.
Whenever possible, use plantain leaves in a fresh rather than dried form.
- Wash the leaves of the plantain thoroughly with running water and allow them to dry.
- Tear the leaves into small pieces - it is better not to use scissors and metal knives for grinding.
- The crushed raw materials can be slightly ground with a pestle in a non-metallic mortar.
- Pour well-planted leaves of plantain with boiled water not hotter than 70 degrees, tightly cork and wrap.
- After complete cooling, strain the infusion.
- Water the cat a teaspoon four to five times a day until fully recovered.
Medicinal plants can bring many benefits if applied correctly.
Also among the effective natural remedies for cough are the following medicinal plants:
- anise fruits;
- buds of birch and pine;
- linden flowers;
- three-colored violet;
- thyme and others
In the treatment of coughing in cats, herbal medicinal raw materials are no less effective and safer than many medications, even those made on a natural basis. But the main problem of the use of such drugs in veterinary medicine remains the unpredictability of the animal’s response to a particular plant, especially as a part of fees.
Veterinarians claim a large number of allergic reactions that occur in cats on the background of such treatment. Is it necessary to say how dangerous this is - for example, in the case when a cough is a symptom of bronchial asthma? Obviously, choosing useful plants in nature for self-medication, animals are fully guided by instincts and do not make fatal mistakes. And our inept care too often can harm them.
Mandatory components of the culture of keeping pets are their timely vaccination and antiparasitic treatment. This will help the pet to be in good physical shape, protect it from many infections and infestations. Vaccination is done annually; multivalent vaccines are used:
- Nobivak Triquet - its action is aimed at creating immunity to panleukopenia, viral rhinotracheitis and calicivirosis, long-term immunity is formed after 10 days;
- Felovax-4 - forms an immunity to calicivirus, chlamydia, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia, the vaccine is safe for pregnant cats;
- Multifel-4 - is aimed at combating calcivirosis, rhinotracheitis, chlamydia, panleukopenia, immunity is formed 2 weeks after vaccination;
- Vitafelvak - provides immunity to calicivirus, chlamydia, rhinotracheitis and panleukopenia, the full effect of the vaccine begins after 21 days;
- Eurifel - to combat calcivirus, plague, viral leukemia and viral rhinotracheitis.
It is important to properly store and purchase preparations for vaccination only in those pharmacies and clinics where the authenticity of the vaccine is guaranteed and the storage conditions regulated by the instructions are observed. It is better for the veterinarian to vaccinate, he will also have to monitor the condition of the animal during the quarantine period.
Ten days before vaccination, it is necessary to completely complete the complex treatment of the animal, it is of all types of parasites. First, arthropod parasites (fleas and ticks) are destroyed, which carry, among other things, worm eggs. After three to five days, the cat is given anthelmintic drugs - this must be done twice with an interval of 9-11 days.
Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are the best preventative measure to prevent many diseases.
Ask your doctor what antiparasitic drugs are most effective in your area and how often your worms should be driven off specifically for your cat - should this be done on a quarterly or semiannual basis. Regular treatment will protect the pet from parasitic infestations, as well as many other diseases that are the result of weakened immunity.
Every healthy animal should undergo preventive examinations at the veterinarian at least twice a year - this will help in time to pay attention to subtle symptoms of a starting illness or even prevent it. If you do not want to see an unpleasant picture of how your pet coughs, do everything possible to protect it from ailments:
- Provide your cat with a high-quality and balanced diet with enough vitamins and other valuable components that support immunity and physical fitness.
- Do not give your pet food or drink from the refrigerator - the temperature of what it consumes should not be lower than room temperature.
- Never make drafts in the room where your pet lives, but try to keep the air there always fresh.
- Carry out antiparasitic treatments on time and vaccinate your pet with only high-quality drugs.
- Review your cat's toys and remove those that are dangerous: if small particles are easily separated from them and it is easy to choke on them, such entertainment will not lead to anything good.
- Avoid contact with sick animals; after coming home, wash the soles of your shoes and hands before stroking and petting your pet.
The causes of coughing in a cat are varied and often quite serious. It is far from always possible to recognize them and cure a cough at home. Therefore, it is better not to risk the health and life of the pet, but to show it to the doctor as soon as possible.