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Dr. John
Dr. John, Small animal veterinarian, ER vet
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1205
Experience:  significant surgical and medicine background, currently working as emergency clinic veterinarian
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Cat Is Hacking Several Times A Day.

Resolved Question:

My cat has been 'hacking' several times a day, sometimes it wakes him up while he is sleeping.

Is this normal?

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. John replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question concerning Felix. The hacking definitely isn't normal, so it is good you have made a veterinary appointment for him. How long has this been going on for? Has his attitude or appetite changed any? Any other changes you can think of?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- :
Its been going on for approx a month now. He eats normally, plays and sleeps.. Last night he slept with me and in the middle of the night he started his hacking. Just can't think of anything outside the normal.

Dr. John :
Does he struggle to breathe at all while this is going on? Is the hack productive?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- :
Not sure if it is a struggle, he crouches down as if he is going to hack up a hairball but no ball. He does seem to swallow something, perhaps saliva or I can only say, like phlegm. Right now he just hacked and now he is eating after a quick hello rub with the other cat.(both have been together for over 8 years).

Dr. John : Okay - is he indoor/outdoor or inside only?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Mostly indoors however he does go outside from time to time for about an equivalent to an hour unless I am outside, and he'll be there as long as I am. Yesterday we were out most of the day. Today its raining so he only went out once for about a half hour.

Dr. John : What part of the US do you live in?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Washington State on the Peninsula about 60 miles from Seattle.

Dr. John : Okay, I'm not too familiar with the northwest - are heartworms discussed out there?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : They are.

Dr. John : Okay, is he on any preventative?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Nothing right now, other than his regular vaccines.

Dr. John : Okay, so heartworms aren't super common in cats, but it is one possibility of what could be going on here.

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Hmmm, okay.... would it be okay to dose him with this product... Revelution?

Dr. John : You can, but that wouldn't help if he already got the heartworms (although it is a great preventative for cats). Other possibilities would include heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, and cancer.

There are still others of course, but these things would be the most common.
Any new air fresheners or anything in the house? Does anyone smoke in the house?

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Is there a way I can know for sure if its heartworm or do tests need to be done via Vet?

Dr. John : Unfortunately no - there aren't even any highly accurate blood tests for cats like we have for dogs

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Oh, you hit a point, there are new air fresheners in the house, those timed spray kind.

Dr. John : Most commonly we try a blood test first and if that is negative and chest x-rays are still suggestive, we will have an ultrasound done to look for worms in the pulmonary artery.

Yes things like that can possibly induce an allergic type asthma.

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : I hope its the case. I will remove them for now and see if the hacking stops. Thanks Doc

Dr. John : This is an asthma attack video


It is certainly not definitively it, if what he is doing looks like this, but it would be more likely.

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : Oh wow... I just watched.... while this cat did not crouch down as much, Felix exhibits very similar behavior .... Can Asthma start up at this stage of his life?

Dr. John : Yes, if there is something new in the home or environment that his lungs could be reacting too. It isn't real common at this age to develop, but if you have new fresheners in the home, I would try eliminating those to see if there is any improvement

But as far as diagnostics are concerned, chest x-rays are certainly your next step to see what is going on (and if you pursue these, I highly recommend a radiologist review of the films as well as these different disease processes can be very hard to differentiate between by a non-specialist)

JACUSTOMER-k35bywf7- : That's what I will do.... I just removed the one from the living room.

Dr. John : Okay great

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