An asthmatic reaction is the most likely cause of feline coughing

This is a feline health tip. As a cat guardian it’s nice to know what the most likely cause of a health problem is and in this instance I am discussing the feline cough. According to Dr Bruce Fogle, the respected veterinarian and author writing in Complete Cat Care, the most likely cause of coughing and wheezing in cats is an “asthmatic reaction”.

Cat Coughing
Cat Coughing. Photo: Warren Photographic.
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What does it mean? My interpretation is that it means a cough triggered by an allergen or an irritant inhaled by the cat. So coughing in cats is most likely caused by inhaling irritants such as pollen, dust, cigarette smoke and sometimes household cleaning sprays.

Another possible cause is a dusty litter. Dusty litter can cause more serious health issues and even death. Changing the litter to a low-dust type may help. Keeping your cat indoors to will help because a lot of these irritants and allergens exist outside.

The mechanics of a feline cough is as follows. The cat’s airway respond to the irritant by contracting the smooth muscles that line the bronchial tree. This prevents the irritant from moving deeper into the cat’s lung. Mucus is then secreted to trap the irritant. Lastly a cough is triggered to expel the mucus with the trapped irritant inside.

This response narrows the airways which in turn makes breathing more difficult. Less likely causes of a feline cough are bacterial infections, heart disease, airway parasites or foreign bodies.

Sometimes the regurgitation of hairballs can be mistaken for a cough. You will have to see a vet to diagnose the cause of feline coughing. He or she might prescribe drugs including anti-inflammatories, bronchodilators and drugs to break down the mucus. See also home treatments below.

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