cat coughing and congested says OK

organic_donnaJanuary 9, 2009


I'm very concerned about my 5 year old cat. She is constantly coughing and her breathing doesn't sound normal. Sometimes the cough sounds like a smoker's cough and sometimes it sounds like a toilet being plunged. Her breathing sounds like a whistle.

I took her to her regular vet. This is a cat only vet hospital and this vet is very experienced with cats. She took X-rays and did blood work and sent the X-rays to a specialist. My bill was $400.00! Her conclusion was my cat is overweight. She weighs 9lbs. My cat is still coughing a lot and her breathing is not normal. I am looking for a less expensive vet. Can I ask for the X-rays to take to another vet? The vet says it's not asthma, what could it be?


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Yes you should be able to ask for the X-rays. I have done this before.

The only thing I can think of is a URI, which they could give her antibiotics for. Are her eyes watery?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 10:25AM
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We have a cat with asthma, and what you describe is exactly what her breathing sounds like when she has an attack. From what several vets told me, Asthma in cats is tricky to diagnose even from an x-ray and takes a practiced eye. Maybe ask for a steroid shot and see if that eases her symptoms, it worked wonders for my kitty's asthma.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 11:47AM
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The vet I was taking her to before this vet diagnosed her with Asthma. This vet says she doesn't have it. Can it go untreated or is it life threatening? The vet that diagnosed her with Asthma had me buy a vacuum with a Hepa filter. She said no treatment was indicated. She was going to do some kind of "wash" treatment but never did it. Maybe I should take her for another opinion.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:34PM
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It can be life threatening, just like in people, so I would seek another opinion. I had to rush kitty to an emergency clinic once because her steroid shot had worn off (I wasn't keeping as close an eye on her as usual because we were moving) and she went into an acute attack, with her mouth open, blue gums, and gasping for breath. It was scary!

She was at the animal hospital over night until they stabilized her and from then on, as soon as she would start coughing, I would take her in for a steroid shot. Unfortunately, she now has developed diabetes due to steroids and can no longer have the shots.

I am able to manage her okay on Aminophylline tablets as needed, though she did do better on steroids. Some people use spacer inhalers with corticosteroids and fast acting inhalers. I tried it as I have asthma and always have meds on hand, and she absolutely hated it. She cannot stand having her face/head covered, so that didn't work for us at all. I haven't heard of any wash treatments, none of the vets have mentioned that. Maybe Meghane will comment.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 4:25PM
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Agreed get a 2nd opinion. good luck

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 4:59PM
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Tracheal wash is a way to get a sample of cells in the airways. It might show inflammatory cells or bacteria, etc. Sometimes it can help with a diagnosis.

Was she tested for heartworms? Asthma and heartworms can produce the same symptoms in cats. It's really difficult to diagnose either problem though.

I would get a second opinion as well. Coughing and labored breathing can by symptoms of serious disease. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:18PM
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Sounds just like my cat, Mary, who has asthma. I brought her to an emergency clinic on a Sunday when her breathing was very labored. They were talking about all kinds of tests including the wash to pinpoint the problem. (huge $$$) To make a long story short, she has seasonal asthma. She's absolutely fine all winter and the first start of spring she coughs and her breathing turns into wheezing. I start her on predisone daily. The predisone is cheap and works great but ideally she should use the inhaler. It's a pain in the butt to deal with every day since I have to board her for vacation. I'd love to find out about the shots but my vet doesn't believe in them. My other 2 cats are fine. I'm in New England so now the windows are closed and no grass, trees, or flowers to deal with. I also no longer use any smelly cleaners, use dust free litter, and the house is smoke free. All these can be irritants.

If treated it's not a death sentence. Check out the success story and information on Fritz the cat.

I would definitely think about going back to the first vet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fritz the cat

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 1:18PM
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You need to follow your instincts on this and go to a different vet.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:57PM
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DS went to college and has stayed in Chicago. Near his last apartment, he went to "Broadway Animal Hospital at 6320 N broadway. tell her it's half a block south of the broadway and Devon intersection. Dr John T Kasmerksy "

He adopted a very sick kitten. This vet was awesome. He took excellent care of her...and even gave DS his cell number when he sent kitten home since the vet was going to be staying at the clinic with a surgical patient for the night, in case his kitten got worse or he had questions. DS bought a condo a half hour walk from him but he will be taking a taxi and will keep using him.

DS had a bad experience with first kitten (died within a few days of adopting from a big shelter downtown) and the second one was sick as well but lived. The third one he adopted through CList. Was told it was 6 weeks old but it was only about 3 weeks old. She's doing fine too.

Good luck with your cat.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 8:43PM
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Heartworms can present almost exactly like feline asthma. They are very difficult to definitively diagnose in cats except with a lot of luck and an extremely good ultrasound (both user and equipment).

Is your cat on heartworm prevention?

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 8:56PM
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i'm going thru something similar right now with our FIV of the things my vet asked me to monitor is is the wheezing noise on the inhale or exhale breath.....apparently this helps determine whether it's asthma or something else??

we had some results with antirobe antibiotics, and so are now on baytril and prednisone to hopefully clear up what we think might be an infection.....

but we're still saving up for the costly xrays that are coming our way anyway.....

don't stop till you find out what it vet is a cat specialist who listed a frightening number of possiblities and how we can eliminate them......she also has an awesome payment plan.....maybe you can find one who will let you run a tab while you help yer buddy......

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 10:13PM
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I was just wondering if anybody has came up with a diagnosis ? Sounds just like my cat also, who has a laboring cough at the same time when he coughs you here a gurgling noise deep inside,and when the "cough" is done he still has a labored breath with a gurgling noise.
I also had blood tests and x-rays with no success.
Any help would be appreciated.
Shane A.
Chelsea,Maine .

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 4:44PM
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Shane, have your vet check for asthma. My cat had the same symptoms and was diagnosed with seasonal asthma. I was shocked as to how common this can be. It is not curable but I give her a daily pill starting in the spring and can ween her off the pills around Thanksgiving.
Its very serious and life threatening if not treated.
My cat is back to normal on the meds.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 11:12AM
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My cat has little fits of coughing that last about 15 seconds. He's been doing this since I got him in 2005. It happens maybe once or twice a week and it's a little bit of dry heaving. He doesn't seem to have any labored breathing or anything during the fits and he's completely fine afterward. It sort of reminds of of the hairball hacking except nothing ever comes up. I've mentioned it multiple times but my vet suspects very mild asthma and as long as it seems mild, she doesn't recommend treatments as there can be side effects.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 4:27PM
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