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cat coughing

Elizabeth Timpa
March 23rd, 2012, 06:47 PM
My five year old male has had a cough since December. He was seen by one vet at the practice who diagnosed it as a fur ball, and sold me medi-treats to give him. This didn't help, and, as he is coughing more often and more violently, I took him back and another vet watched a video I had taken of him coughing, ordered x-rays and blood work, and said it's a fur ball, give him tonic-lax five times daily. This is not improving his cough at all, after three days. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what this could be? He seems otherwise healthy, and is still eating.

March 23rd, 2012, 09:18 PM

Does you cat go outside?
What part of him was x rayed?

I am just asking because if he goes outside (or even if he dosn't for that matter), he could have eaten something that stayed stuck in his throat or eusophagus, and that's what he would be trying to cough up...

I doubt a fur ball would take that long to deal with/cough up.
If only his belly was x rayed, maybe the vet missed out on something stuck ''higher up'' in his digestive tract.

You mention that he is still eating. Does it seem painful or uncomfortable to him when he eats?
Does he seem to swallow his food and water normally?
Does he eat the same portions as usual, or eats smaller portions at the time?
Also did you check his stools? Any blood or change in consistency?

The more info you give us, the more we can try to help!


Elizabeth Timpa
March 24th, 2012, 09:50 AM
Hi, thanks for responding. The x-rays (2) were of the lungs I assume. I couldn't speak with the vet, only the receptionist when I picked him up. He doesn't cough when he eats, but he doesn't drink hardly ever. The one possible concern is that he ingested some of the fake snow, which is like a white pillow stuffing, as he slept on my Christmas village, and maybe picked some up while he was washing himself. I told the regular vet this when she first examined him. He does go out, on supervised walks, or in an outside kitty pen where there is only grass. I found him in a ditch, about four weeks old, soaking wet and near death. I assume the whole litter had been left in the box, but he was the only one left. I just hope it's not something from his early beginnings that is causing this now. Both my regular vet and her vet husband keep saying hairball, but he is very short haired, I comb him daily, and he has never coughed up a hairball in his life. I would love to get opinions. Thanks.

March 24th, 2012, 10:02 AM
There's a video at this link on feline asthma that shows a cat having an asthma attack: Does your cat do anything similar?

Since asthma can't usually be diagnosed from just an x-ray and blood work (tends to be diagnosed by eliminating other possibilities), I would be inclined to pursue that option further - perhaps by giving your kitty a short course of corticosteroids to see if that improves things.

Do stop the Tonic-Lax though. 5 times a day is a crazy amount to give a cat! It's basically a petroleum product and will interfere with nutrient absorption, plus potentially cause intestinal inflammation. If it hasn't worked by now, there's no point in continuing it.

Elizabeth Timpa
March 24th, 2012, 11:48 AM
Thanks so much. I did watch a youtube video of a cat cough, which was asthma. Both my vet and her husband(who saw him last), say it's not asthma. I will stop the tonic-lax, he's been getting it 5x a day since Wed., and he's coughing just as much, if not more, than before. Thanks.

March 24th, 2012, 10:27 PM
Hi again,

I do agree that the cat lax should be stopped, it's not being effective anyways...

As for a hair ball, does anyone here know if it would show up on an X ray??? Perhaps Suguarcatmom knows the answer to this??? she is quite knowledgable!

When you do get a hold of your vet, perhaps ask them exactly what part of your cat was x-rayd, and mention that perhaps he has something obstructing his upper digestive tract; troath, eusophagus.

It could be something like a piece of wood, a small nail, metal twine, fish hook, or some part of Christmas decorations you had, :shrug: as you did mention that this started around December. They can be very curious and eat pretty much everything...

Even if he goes on supervised walks with you and in the enclosed cat pen, maybe he managed to eat up a strange object that ended up in the pen somehow that stayed stuck in there it's worth a shot!

I also agree that maybe a short course of asthma meds could help, if it is asthma, then the results should be fast with the meds.

As for having found him when he was very small and in distress, if he was fine until now, I don't think it could have much to do with the present condition. But I am sure your vet is aware of his beginnings and has ruled out anything that could be linked to this...

Keep us posted on the situation, I'm sure someone will find the cause of the problem soon enough!