Dear VetBabble: Why does my cat occasionally cough and sound wheezy, and should I be concerned?
As pet owners, it’s natural for us to be concerned about our feline friends’ well-being, especially when they show unusual symptoms like occasional coughing and wheezing. The good news is that, in most cases, this is not a major cause for concern. To help you and other pet owners understand why this might be happening and what steps to take, we’ve provided a friendly and informative explanation below.
1. Hairballs: A Common Culprit of Coughing and Wheezing
One of the most common reasons why cats may cough and wheeze without producing anything is hairballs. As cats groom themselves, they can inadvertently swallow loose hairs, which eventually accumulate into a ball-like form in their digestive tract. Occasionally, these hairballs may trigger coughing as the cat tries to expel them from its system.
To help your cat manage hairballs and reduce the frequency of coughing episodes, a hairball paste can be very beneficial. Administering this paste to your cat twice a week can help break down the hairball and allow it to pass through the digestive system more easily. Regular grooming and brushing can also reduce the amount of loose hair your cat swallows during grooming sessions.
2. Vomiting: Another Potential Reason for Cat Coughing
While hairballs are often the main reason behind a cat’s coughing, it’s also possible that your cat may be experiencing some gastrointestinal issues, leading to vomiting or retching. If you notice your cat coughing and wheezing more than usual, and especially if they occasionally produce vomit, it’s a good idea to investigate this concern further.
Dietary changes or allergies might be responsible for your cat’s vomiting. If you’ve recently introduced new food to your cat’s diet or suspect that they may have ingested something toxic, consult your veterinarian right away. They’ll be able to guide you in identifying the underlying cause and, if necessary, provide treatment options for your cat.
3. Allergies and Flu: Less Common Causes of Coughing and Wheezing
While hairballs and vomiting are the more likely causes of a cat’s coughing and wheezing, there’s a slight chance that your pet could be dealing with allergies or even a flu. Although cat allergies are rare, they can cause various symptoms, including coughing and wheezing. To determine whether allergies are to blame for your cat’s symptoms, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian, who can perform tests and suggest treatments if necessary.
Additionally, your cat might be coughing and wheezing due to a respiratory infection, which can be a sign of the feline flu. Although uncommon, this viral infection can lead to coughing, sneezing, and other respiratory issues in cats. If you suspect that your cat might have the flu, contact your veterinarian for advice and care recommendations.
In conclusion, while occasional coughing and wheezing in cats might be unsettling, it’s typically not a major cause for concern. Hairballs are the most common reason behind these symptoms, and addressing the hairball issue with regular grooming and hairball paste can help alleviate the problem. However, if your cat’s coughing and wheezing persist or worsen, it’s essential to consult with your vet to identify potential underlying issues and receive appropriate treatment. Remember, keeping a close eye on your cat’s health and acting proactively when you notice unusual signs are essential for maintaining their well-being!