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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14858
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat has had a slight cough on and off 2 years

Customer Question

My cat has had a slight cough on and off for about 2 years or so...By on and off I mean at first I would notice her having them once a month. Just recently it seems like an everyday occurrence, sometimes 2 or3 times a day. The "coughs" last for a minute or less and she never spits anything up. Her mouth stays closed and she sticks her neck out and down during the episode. There is no weezing or abnormal breath sounds during the times when she is not coughing although I do notice constant swallowing at times. She is 3 years old and is a little over weight and certainly has not lost interest in food at all.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.I am sorry to hear about Baby's intermittent cough which has recently become more frequent, now daily.Since her intermittent cough is seeming to linger without any nasal or eye discharge a bacterial or viral infection seems very unlikely.A dry cough can be a sign of heartworm disease. The most common symptoms for heartworm disease in a cat are coughing or gagging/vomiting. A simple blood test will help diagnose heartworm.Another possibility, especially if she is allowed outdoors to hunt, is a lungworm infection. These can be more difficult to diagnose but checking several stool samples for eggs or trying a course of fenbenadazole (Panacur) worming medication may be diagnostic if she gets better.Of course the other possibility is feline asthma. We can usually diagnose them with radiographs of the chest when they are showing symptoms. But if we don't catch them during an episode radiographs can look clear.Heart disease is another possibility but I would expect her to be sicker with heart disease, and her cough to be more consistent. If she seems relatively normal otherwise, eating and drinking well, and active than heart disease is less likely with a cough that is gotten so often.It would be very reasonable to check a heartworm test as well as a stool sample and worm him with fenbendazole. If those aren't diagnostic and she isn't improving the next step would be to take chest radiographs and look for changes consistent with asthma and compare them to the previous ones taken to see if there have been any changes if she has ever had radiographs taken before.If her radiographs look suspicious for asthma or even if they look clear when she isn't coughing then try a course of bronchodilators (oral like theophylline or inhaled) and inhaled cortisone (like fluticasone). In most cases inhaled formulation of both drugs work best. In some cases your veterinarian may start with an injection of steroids to get him some immediate relief. Inhaled formulations can work directly on the lungs, and thus tend to work better in the long run, and because they aren't systemic they have less side effects.Rarely a nasopharyngeal polyp or a fungal infection can be the cause of a cough, so looking further with sedation and a nasal scope, as well as a look behind the soft palate may be needed, if she isn't coming along.There aren't any good over the counter medications to give a cat with a cough, other than a wormer like fenbendazole, but hopefully I have given you the information you need to approach her cough and the diagnostic testing that will help pin the cause down and get her appropriate treatment.Best of luck with Baby, please let me know if you have any further questions.
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 7 months ago.
Hello, I wanted to check in and see if you had any further questions after reading my response. If you do please feel free to respond with them. If not and you found my information helpful please give me an update on your kitty, thank you, ***** *****