By Dr. Amy Lightstone
Cats can cough for many reasons, and they tend to cough a bit differently than dogs. It often looks like they are trying to hack up a hairball, with their little necks stretched out in front of them. While they may ultimately need some veterinary testing performed, there are a few things you can do at home to help your kitty cat’s cough.
Get Rid Of Odors And Dust
Cats are very sensitive to strong smells, odors, and dust. If you notice your cat coughing a lot, try to reduce any incense, smoke, or strong detergent odors at home. Thoroughly clean and vacuum your carpets, hardwood floors, blinds, curtains, and couches. Regularly wash the bedding where your kitty sleeps, too, even if that means your own bed. Still hear your little buddy coughing? An air filter may help to reduce the dust and pollen in the air.
Allergies could be the possible trigger of your cat coughing a lot. When a thorough cleaning of your home isn’t enough, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) can help alleviate coughing symptoms. If your kitty is still coughing intermittently, it would be a good idea to make an appointment at a full service veterinary office for some diagnostic testing.
Get An X Ray
Chest x-rays can be very helpful in figuring out why your cat is coughing. It can determine if your cat has bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, heart disease, or neoplasia. A fecal or heartworm test may help show whether a parasite is causing or contributing to the cough. The appropriate long term treatment will depend on the cause.
If your cat is just occasionally coughing without distress, try cleaning or using antihistamines at home. But if your cat seems distressed, has pale gums, or is open-mouth breathing, they should be seen at a full service veterinarian right away. Your cat coughing a lot could mean they’re having a severe asthma attack, or they may have heart issues that need to be treated as soon as possible. When in doubt, have your cat checked out!