Understanding What a Cat’s Cough Sounds Like – A Guide

A cat’s cough sounds rather similar to a hairball expulsion. It is a retching, hacking noise, which often ends in a small expulsion of fluids. In some cases, the cough may be dry, mimicking a “huffing” sound.

Coughs can vary depending upon the cat’s health condition. For instance, if the cough is due to respiratory infection or asthma, it may sound harsher and more frequent. Meanwhile, a softer, infrequent cough is often a sign of less serious conditions.

Last Updated on September 22, 2023

As a cat parent, it can be concerning to hear your furry friend coughing. While occasional coughing is normal, frequent or persistent coughing may indicate an underlying health issue. Understanding what a cat’s cough sounds like can help you recognize when your feline friend needs medical attention.

Cats can make various types of coughing sounds, which can be confusing to decipher. Some coughs may sound like hacking or retching, while others may resemble wheezing or gagging. Each sound can indicate different health conditions or environmental factors that may affect your cat’s respiratory system.

In this section, we will explore the different sounds that a cat’s cough can make, and what each sound may signify for your feline friend’s health.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cats can make different types of coughing sounds, which may indicate different health conditions.
  • Recognizing the different coughing sounds can help you understand your cat’s respiratory health better.
  • Consulting a veterinarian is crucial if you notice any changes in your cat’s coughing sounds.

Recognizing Different Cat Cough Sounds

Now that we have covered the basics of what a cat’s cough sounds like, let’s take a closer look at the different types of coughing sounds cats can make. These sounds can vary from mild and occasional to severe and frequent, and they can indicate different health issues your cat may be experiencing.

One common type of coughing sound that cats make is a hacking sound. This is when your cat stretches their neck out and coughs several times in a row. This sound is typically associated with hairballs, which are common in cats that lick and groom themselves frequently.

Another type of coughing sound that cats may make is a wheezing or raspy sound. This can be a sign of asthma or allergies, and it may be accompanied by Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

A gagging sound is another type of cough that cats may make. This can indicate that something is stuck in your cat’s throat, such as a piece of food or a foreign object.

Recognizing Environmental Factors

It’s also important to consider environmental factors that can cause your cat to cough. For example, exposure to smoke or other pollutants can irritate your cat’s respiratory system and cause coughing. If you notice your cat coughing more frequently when you use certain cleaning products or air fresheners, it may be a sign that these products are irritating their lungs.

Connecting Cough Sounds to Health Conditions

Understanding the different types of cough sounds that cats can make can help you connect them to specific health conditions. For example, a dry, persistent cough may be a sign of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is a viral disease that affects cats. On the other hand, a wet cough may be a sign of a respiratory infection or pneumonia.

It’s important to note that while some coughing sounds may be indicative of serious health issues, others may be benign and not require medical attention. However, if you notice any changes in your cat’s coughing patterns or if their coughing becomes more frequent or severe, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian.

cat coughing

Remember, recognizing and understanding the different types of cough sounds in cats is a crucial step in maintaining your feline friend’s health and wellbeing. By paying attention to their coughs and any accompanying symptoms, you can help ensure that they receive the appropriate care and treatment.

Identifying Common Causes of Cat Coughing

When it comes to identifying the causes of your cat’s cough, it’s important to observe their symptoms and seek veterinary care if you’re concerned. Below are some common causes of cat coughing:

Cause Associated Symptoms
Allergies Sneezing, runny nose, itchy skin
Asthma Wheezing, rapid breathing, lethargy
Bronchitis Fever, difficulty breathing, lethargy
Heart Disease Decreased appetite, lethargy, decreased stamina
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) Weight loss, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy
Cancer Weight loss, lethargy, decreased appetite

Cats can also cough due to environmental factors, such as exposure to smoke or dust. In some cases, hairballs can be a common cause of coughing in cats. To tell if your cat has a hairball, look for other symptoms such as vomiting, gagging or retching.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s cough, it’s best to schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a complete evaluation. In some cases, further testing may be necessary to determine the root cause of the cough. Early detection and treatment often lead to the best outcomes in managing your cat’s health.

identifying common causes of cat coughing

When to Seek Veterinary Care for a Coughing Cat

If your cat is coughing, it’s always a good idea to monitor their symptoms and behavior to determine if their cough is getting better or worse. In some cases, you may be able to treat your cat at home with over-the-counter remedies or changes to their diet or environment.

However, there are certain red flags that indicate a need for immediate veterinary care. If your cat’s cough is persistent and does not improve within a few days or if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, seek veterinary care as soon as possible:

Your veterinarian will be able to examine your cat and perform diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of their cough. Depending on their findings, they may prescribe medications or recommend further treatment such as X-rays or blood tests.

when to seek veterinary care for a coughing cat

Remember, as a pet owner, you know your cat best. If you notice any changes in their behavior or symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance. Prompt medical attention can help keep your feline friend healthy and happy.


As a cat owner, understanding what a cat’s cough sounds like can provide valuable insights into their health. By recognizing different coughing sounds and knowing when to seek veterinary care, you can ensure your feline companion receives appropriate treatment and care.

It’s important to pay attention to any changes in your cat’s cough sounds, as they can be indicative of underlying health issues. If you notice your cat coughing frequently or making unusual sounds while coughing, it may be time to seek professional examination and treatment from a veterinarian.

Remember to observe additional symptoms alongside the cough sound effects, as they can provide important clues to your cat’s overall health. Always consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your cat’s cough or general health. They are your best resource for ensuring your feline friend has a happy and healthy life.


Q: What does a cat’s cough sound like?

A: A cat’s cough can sound like hacking, wheezing, gagging, or a combination of these sounds. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing or difficulty breathing.

Q: What do different cat cough sounds mean?

A: The specific cough sound can provide clues about the potential underlying cause. For example, a hacking cough may indicate hairballs, while a wheezing cough could suggest respiratory issues.

Q: When should I be concerned about my cat’s cough sound?

A: If your cat’s cough sound is persistent, severe, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary care. Similarly, if the cough sound changes or worsens over time, it is important to have your cat evaluated by a professional.

Q: Can environmental factors affect a cat’s cough sound?

A: Yes, environmental factors such as smoke, dust, or allergens can contribute to or aggravate a cat’s cough. It is important to identify and minimize exposure to these triggers to help alleviate the cough sound.

Q: Is it normal for cats to cough occasionally?

A: Occasional coughing can be normal for cats, especially if they have recently groomed themselves or encountered a minor irritant. However, persistent or frequent coughing should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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