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Coughing in senior cat

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
My 17 year old cat has been coughing for about six months and I have yet to figure out why.

Background: He is overweight (about 16.5 lbs) and has some trouble breathing normally. I can hear him breathing when he's resting, and he breathes rapidly. He also suffered from a bout of kidney failure a year ago when an old vet gave him Metacam. This nearly killed him and he hasn't been the same since, but he is now stable and his kidney blood levels are in the higher end of normal. He is an indoor/outdoor cat...mostly indoor, but goes out later at night when we can keep an eye on him.

I've taken him to the vet on numerous occasions to diagnose this coughing issue. We did a basic blood panel along with a chest xray, and everything looked clear as far as fluid and heartworms go. His bronchioles were smaller than what they should have been and the vet mentioned possible medication to open them up, but he was also wary of it due to my cat's past with kidney failure.

My cat is very sore in the stomach area, but his chest xray showed the majority of his stomach and nothing bad showed on the xray. He has bad hips and doesn't appreciate any type of examination on the back half of his body, but our vet was able to do a pretty decent one at one point and didn't feel anything abnormal despite noticing his obvious soreness.

The most strange part of this is that when you press on my cat's stomach/chest the wrong way (eg. during an examination, when picking him up, etc.), it triggers the coughing. His eating grass also triggers it. He will go days without coughing, but as soon as he goes outside and eats grass, he will start coughing that night. The grass connection seems pretty obvious, but the pressing on his stomach doesn't make sense to me.

When he coughs, his stomach gurgles very loudly and it sounds like he's got something in his throat. But he's definitely coughing. He's never had a hairball in his life.

Does anyone have any past experiences like this or have any ideas as to what this could be?
post #2 of 4
He may have a grass allergy or possibly some asthma or general allergies. When you pick him up, I wonder if you are pressing on his chest in such a way that will trigger the coughing.

I have allergies and asthma and I have a lot of difficulty breathing when I go outside many days, especially during high pollen and mold counts. We also havea cat that is very sensitive to mold and certain tree blooms. While he doesn't cough, he sneezes and has difficulty breathing the days we open the windows.

I don't know how you can treat that in a kitty....during the spring and Fall, we typically have to take Fred in for breathing treatments. Has your vet mentioned anything along those lines?
post #3 of 4
Firstly, write down the timetable of when this all began, when it happens, and al that you've mentioned here. Then take that into your vet.

I noticed you live in Texas and it's very dry there in many places. Here in the deserts of Nevada, we have little rain so our grass "goes to seed" very early - some wild grasses we call foxtails as the tops of the seed heads are long and thin.

Quite often dog AND cats get these tiny pieces of grass "seed heads" into their noses, throats, ears, paws, and even down into their lungs... Quite often they get caught because they're so pointed and an infection begins. I hope I'm wrong, but that could very well be the cause of the coughing and the gurgling is anything from stomach contents to lung liquid like pneumonia.

A vet may probably tell me I'm full of it, but I've been a petsitter for over 20 years and seen this a couple of times only. However, it is uncomfortable, and could be sore and painful. It also could be a sensitivity to something in the air (some people & govts. spray to kill mosquitoes for West Nile virus and that spray or any weed killer, etc. could also be used by neighbors) - vet is ONLY person who could tell you.

Pay your money and get your kitty in right away. At that age (I have 3 at same age range) anything cold go wrong with their bodies and even the food could be irritating the tummy. I've gone form pancreatitis to diabetes, to loss of sight and one had an eye removed - one had squamous cell carcinoma and entire third eyelid from all around the orb had to be removed and it was then returned to head - imagine sewing that? That particular kitty was merely sneezing over and over and had a tiny pus-like spot at tear duct - it blew into the cancer which was the problem all along.

So, it was good to ask here for help, but only a vet and a good one (mine is best in the state, I swear) can diagnose and proceed to fix the condition. Even at this age, it is still possible to operate successfully, if that is required. Pray to Bastet (Egyptian Cat Goddess) that it is merely an allergy.

post #4 of 4
Originally Posted by xthoroughbred View Post
When he coughs, his stomach gurgles very loudly and it sounds like he's got something in his throat. But he's definitely coughing. He's never had a hairball in his life.
Does it sound like this?
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