What Does It Mean If Your Cat Keeps Coughing?

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Many cats practically don't cough at all, so it can be startling to see your kitty hunched over and repeatedly coughing. If your cat is exhibiting these symptoms and you don't know what to make of them, you should consult with a veterinarian.

Only a vet can give you a proper diagnosis and let you know for sure what's causing this issue with your cat. However, these are some of the most likely causes behind your cat's coughing.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections, as they do with humans, commonly cause coughing among cats. It's the body's way of trying to get rid of the infection by ejecting infected pus and mucus via a cough. If you cat has a respiratory infection, they may show other signs of it, like sneezing, wheezing, or lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms, get to a vet as soon as possible — respiratory infections can kill without treatment.


Another potential cause is that your cat could have herpes. Now, that may sound odd, but it's a different kind of herpes than the sexually-transmitted variety most people think of. It's much closer to the type of herpes virus that triggers chicken pox and shingles in humans.

This variety of herpes can trigger respiratory symptoms, like coughing and sneezing, but also other symptoms like eye discharge, nose discharge, and a lack of appetite. While herpes can't be cured once it's acquired, your veterinarian can help your cat by providing antibiotics and vitamins to help boost their immune system and to protect them from secondary bacterial infections.

Heart Murmur

Lastly, a heart murmur, or a defect in the heart, can also cause coughing. This can sound alarming, but not all heart murmurs are necessarily a bad omen for cats. Some cats have mild structural problems with their hearts that can be managed with medication and regular care from a veterinarian. Ultimately, though, the diagnosis and prognosis will depend upon your individual cat. Your vet will be able to check if your cat has a heart murmur through a combination of listening to their heart with a stethoscope and also running a scan like an EKG or ultrasound to look at the inside of the heart for problems.

These problems all demand treatment from a veterinarian, so if your cat's coughing continues, get them to a pet hospital right away. Thankfully, most of these conditions can be treated or controlled, but don't hesitate as they can get worse without treatment.

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From Vaccines to Viruses A vet is someone who is there for your pet from their early years until their last years. When your pet is young, a vet can give them the vaccines they need for disease prevention as they become acquainted with the world. As your pet ages, your vet can monitor them for the conditions that often come with old age, such as arthritis and cancer. Vets care about their patients. We hope you will learn more about this care as you browse the content on this blog. We do our best to offer well-researched and helpful information for pet owners like you.