If Your Cat Is Coughing and Not Bringing Up a Hairball, You Should Pay Attention

Brittany Natale
·2 min read

Whether they are busy chasing laser-pointer lights or demanding to be let behind closed doors, cats have a way of brightening up your day with their quirky behavior. Our cats are a part of our family, and we want the best for them. Which means that when they are doing something that is out of the ordinary, such as coughing but bringing up no hairballs, we want to get down to the bottom of it ASAP. To help us learn more about this issue, POPSUGAR connected with two experts.

According to Anthony Hall, DVM, MPH, a veterinarian at Airvet, occasional coughing is normal and may even be expected. However, he went on to explain that if the cough occurs often or is accompanied by other symptoms, then it's time to bring your pet to the vet to be examined. "If the cough produces discharge from the nose and eyes or brings up any phlegm and recurs frequently, that is more of a reason to visit your veterinarian to see what's going on," Dr. Hall said. He added that oftentimes the vet will want to do blood work, take X-rays, and listen to your cat's heart and lungs to better figure out what exactly is going on.

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Finding out exactly why your cat may be coughing frequently is imperative, as it could be due to a number of different feline health issues. For instance, Lindsay Butzer, DVM, a vet advisor at Zesty Paws, shared that if your cat is coughing it is often related to an inflammatory problem in their lower respiratory tract. "The most common infection found in cats is called feline viral rhinotracheitis or feline herpes virus 1, which leads to bronchitis in cats," Dr. Butzer said. She explained that although this feline herpes virus 1 is very common in cats, not all of them will exhibit symptoms. Beyond causing bronchitis, feline herpes virus 1 can be the culprit behind weepy eyes and sneezing.

Feline asthma, which may be caused by inhaled allergens and allergic reactions, is also a common reason behind why your cat may be coughing. "Cats with feline asthma may be found coughing or gasping for air, but a significant clinical finding is open-mouth breathing," Dr. Butzer said.

Lastly, a surprising reason that may be the catalyst behind a cat's coughing is heart disease. "Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is the most common heart disease found in our feline friends," Dr. Butzer added. "A symptom seen by owners can be heavy breathing, coughing, or open-mouth breathing."