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Coughing cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: I don't know
Age: 2-5 years
One of my cats has been hacking a lot the past few days. I have a video I would like to send to you if I can. He's eating and acting normal otherwise but he's hacking a lot and nothing is coming up. He excessive bathes so I thought it might be a hairball or something funky he ate. A few days ago we switched wet food to seafood but we are giving him normal stuff now. I read it could be asthma or coughing or something else.he's almost impossible to take to the vet. He becomes very hostile. I really want to show you the video to help you distinguish what's going on.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for sharing this video of your cat:

Although it's a sideways video, it's still a really good video of a coughing cat. While I can't give you an official diagnosis over the internet, I can give you a few of my thoughts.

The most common reason for a cat to cough like this is asthma. There are many possible reasons for asthma. Asthma can be made worse by the presence of allergies. Depending on where you live, allergies can be really common at this time of year (early fall).

If he goes outside, it may actually be helpful to keep him inside for the next couple of weeks if possible. Or, if you can't keep him inside, you can try wiping down his fur with a wet paper towel to reduce the number of allergens on him.

Another thing that I have seen bring out asthma in a cat at this time of year is fleas. Even if you don't see fleas, this could be the issue. This article on fleas is a really good one to read just to be sure. So why would fleas cause coughing? It's because some cats are allergic to fleas. While most flea allergies cause itchiness and skin problems, they still can lower the "allergy threshold" and cause other symptoms like coughing.

There are other things that can cause a cat to cough but they are nowhere near as common as asthma. If you live in an area where heartworm is common, then this is a possibility. Other more rare possibilities include eosinophilic pneumonia and others. But really, asthma is most likely.

If this is asthma, if your cat is only coughing a few times a day, you can possibly just ignore the symptoms for now. But, if the coughing increases, if it seems really bothersome to him or if he is getting sick (i.e. not eating, very lethargic) then he really should find a way to get to be seen by a vet. Your vet may be willing to give him some sedation perhaps to help the visit go smoother.

There is no at home treatment for asthma. In cases that do need medication, your vet may prescribe steroids either given orally, by injection or via a kitty inhaler or other medications given my inhaler. But again, many cases of asthma do not need to be treated.

Hope he is feeling better soon!

Dr. Marie

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you for your reply. he's coughing around 9 times a day like that. Coincidentally I'm sick too right now. It could definitely be allergies. He doesn't go outside but he does go out into a screened in area where he likes to lay in the sun. It seems most of his coughing happens when he's asleep and it wakes him up. And it waked me up too. I'm going to try the paper towel thing. Is there any natural things I can give him or help with the environment. From the video are you sure for the most part its not a hairball clog?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This really doesn't look like a hairball issue...but I can't really say for certain. Unfortunately there really isn't a home remedy I can suggest. If it keeps happening 9x a day or more then he really will need to see a vet.

Hope he is better soon!

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.