Why is my cat coughing?

If your cat is coughing, wheezing, or sneezing, it generally indicates that something is irritating your pet's lungs, airway or throat. Today, our La Mesa vets explain a few of the underlying illnesses and conditions that can cause these symptoms. 

Cats Coughing

If your cat is coughing, wheezing, or sneezing, it can be upsetting to watch, especially if your cat becomes agitated or apprehensive.

While an occasional sneeze is usually nothing to worry about, you should have your cat examined by a vet right away if your cat has an ongoing or severe cough so they can receive treatment.

To determine the right treatment for your cat, the vet will need to determine the underlying cause. The nature of your cat's cough along with other findings can help your vet to diagnose the cause of your cat's cough and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Causes of Cat Coughing, Sneezing & Wheezing

There are a number of different reasons why your cat may be wheezing, coughing or sneezing. Below are a few of the most common: 


Asthma is the most common feline respiratory disorder that our La Mesa veterinarians see. Cats who spend at least part of their time outdoors are more likely to develop asthma and may experience a cough as a symptom of the condition.


Much like their people, cats can suffer from allergies that make them cough and sneeze or wheeze. Allergens can range from something in their food to an irritant in their environment. Your veterinarian will help you isolate what your cat is allergic to so you can avoid it. 

Fungal Lung Infection

If your feline friend spends time outdoors they face an increased risk for a fungal infection. Fungal infections can result in coughing and other symptoms. When caught early fungal infections are typically easy to treat.


Heartworm disease is a deadly condition spread by mosquitos. Preventative medications are available from your vet that can help to protect your cat against this extremely serious disease.

Lung Cancer

Coughing can also be a sign of lung cancer in cats. Some lung tumors can be controlled with medication. If not, surgery may be an option for some cats.


Cat coughing can be a sign of pneumonia. Pneumonia in cats can be diagnosed with X-rays and may respond to antibiotics and other therapies. 

Congestive Heart Failure

Signs of congestive heart failure in cats include shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing. If your cat is struggling to breathe it's time to see your vet. Heart failure can be diagnosed using ultrasound or electrocardiogram.

Tight collars

A tight collar can put pressure on your kitty’s windpipe causing damage and leading to a cough.


Worms are particularly common in felines. It’s one reason your kitty should have regular blood and fecal tests at the vet. These tests can help to detect parasites early when they are most easily treated.

Treatment for Cat Coughing

Treatment for breathing problems and coughing in cats will depend upon the underlying cause. Do not try to treat your cat without the guidance of your vet.  After your cat has been thoroughly examined, your vet will recommend appropriate treatment options. Your cat's treatment for coughing may include cough suppressants, antibiotics, steroids or other medications.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your feline friend is coughing, wheezing, or experiencing other breathing difficulties? Contact our La Mesa veterinarians today to book an examination for your cat.