Dogs cough for all kinds of reasons. But, whether it be allergies or an infection of some sort, it is usually temporary. On the other hand, a coughing cat is a serious problem. One of the more dangerous culprits of a coughing cat are heartworms.
Heartworm disease implies the worms remain in the heart, but in fact they are in the lungs as well. A heartworm is about the size of a 6″ piece of spaghetti and physically blocks the moving parts of a cats heart and breathing ability. And, where there is one heartworm, there is probably two…or three..
While there is treatment for heartworm positive dogs, there is NOT any treatment for heartworm positive cats. Your cat could die suddenly without any signs of illness which is why prevention is so important.
“But my cat is an indoor only cat.” Maybe so, but there is no such thing as an outdoor only mosquito. 20-30% of all heartworm positive cats that were tested were indoor only cats. Since there is not very good testing for heartworms in cats and there is no treatment for heartworms in cats, we must be proactive.
There are many other serious reasons for a cat to cough, including asthma and cancer. If your cat is coughing or occasionally vomits anything other than hairballs, please see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Neartown Animal Clinic has a couple of amazing videos of baby heartworms (microfilaria) taken in our clinic.