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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16732
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cat is coughing like croup-I thought at first it maybe a

Customer Question

My cat is coughing like croup-I thought at first it maybe a hairball but nothing comes up-this has lasted for a few weeks now-what could it be???
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

I am sorry to hear about Nice Boy's intermittent, croupy cough.

If his 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 he 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 he 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, especially in an older cat. If he seems relatively normal otherwise, eating and drinking well, and active than heart disease is less likely.

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 he isn't improving the next step would be to take chest radiographs and look for changes consistent with asthma or a chest mass, and compare them to the previous ones taken to see if there have been any changes if he has ever had radiographs taken before.

If his radiographs look suspicious for asthma or even if they look clear when he 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 he 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 his cough and the diagnostic testing that will help pin the cause down and get him appropriate treatment.

Best of luck with your fellow, please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year 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 I would appreciate an update on your kitty, thank you, ***** *****

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
Hi Camille,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Nice Boy. How is everything going?

Dr. Kara