Cat Coughing With Tongue Out

Have you ever noticed your cat coughing with tongue out? It’s a relatively common symptom in cats with various health conditions, including asthma and respiratory problems.

This article is designed to help you understand why this happens, the potential causes, and the next steps you should take. Let’s dive into this intriguing world of feline health to ensure our furry friends lead a comfortable life!

Key Takeaways

  • Cats coughing with their tongue out can be a symptom of various health conditions, including feline asthmaupper and lower respiratory issuesparasitic wormsingestion of foreign materials, hairballs, and feline allergies.
  • Feline asthma is an allergic respiratory disease that causes chronic airway constriction in cats, leading to persistent coughs. It’s important to manage this condition by reducing exposure to allergens and providing appropriate medication.
  • Other symptoms associated with cat coughing include respiratory distress, overheating, and changes in natural behavior. Monitoring these symptoms and seeking veterinary attention when necessary is crucial for your cat’s well-being.

Understanding Cat Coughing: Causes and Symptoms

Cat coughing with the tongue out can be caused by various factors, including feline asthma, upper and lower respiratory issues, parasitic worms, ingestion of foreign materials, hairballs, and feline allergies.

Cat Coughing and Gagging

Coughing and gagging in cats often originate from various underlying health issues. Feline asthma, a prevalent cause, is evidenced by chronic airway constriction triggering persistent coughs void of phlegm or debris.

Lower respiratory problems like Bronchitis are equally troublesome, an inflammation-triggered condition narrowing the trachea and bronchioles due to infection. Upper respiratory infections present additional disruptions, causing coughing alongside alarming symptoms such as nasal discharge and oral ulcers.

Bizarrely enough, parasitic worms also instigate feline coughing; heartworms induce wheezing, labored breathing, abnormal heartbeats, and gastrointestinal unrest, inclusive of vomiting and diarrhea.

The potential culprits proliferate with objects inadvertently swallowed – common foreign materials like grass fragments or bugs can irritate feline airways leading to cough-induced discomfort.

Perhaps most familiar is the hairball dilemma – accumulated digestive-system lodged fur causes gagging and retching and sometimes necessitates vomit expulsion for relief.

Feline Asthma

Cats, just like humans, can suffer from asthma. Feline asthma is an allergic respiratory disease that triggers the chronic constriction of a cat’s airways. This debilitating condition often results in bouts of long-lasting and non-productive coughing—meaning they don’t produce phlegm or debris.

Symptoms typically include wheezing, labored breathing, and recurrent coughs that may sometimes cause the cat to stick its tongue out. Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, smoke, or high-dust cat litter in a cat’s environment can trigger feline asthma by causing an inflammatory response within their sensitive airways.

It’s also key to note that some cats with asthma might display symptoms similar to those of a human cold, such as sneezing or congestion.

Managing this condition primarily involves reducing exposure to allergens and providing appropriate medication tailored for each individual case—with options ranging from antihistamines to steroids, depending on the severity.

Breathing difficulties associated with feline asthma should never be ignored as they could lead to critical respiratory distress if left untreated; hence immediate veterinary intervention becomes paramount when these signs are observed.

Asthmatic cats may also benefit from living in environments equipped with air purifiers and humidifiers, helping maintain cleaner breathable indoor air quality.

Upper and Lower Respiratory Issues

Various respiratory issues can lead to your cat coughing with tongue out. Notable among these are upper and lower respiratory infections which typically come with certain symptoms.

Cats suffering from an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) commonly present discharge from the eyes or nose, sneezing, and mouth ulcers, and could lead to a persistent cough if left untreated.

On the other hand, lower respiratory problems like Bronchitis cause inflammation and narrowing of the trachea & bronchioles – essentially constricting airflow within a cat’s airway, resulting in several breathing difficulties, including coughs.

It’s crucial to note that Bronchitis in cats is often triggered by infectious agents bringing about this inflammatory response. In such cases, fast veterinary attention becomes paramount for timely treatment using suitable antibiotics.

Parasitic Worms

Parasitic worms, specifically heartworms, can cause coughing in cats with their tongues out. These worms can enter a cat’s body through mosquito bites and migrate to the lungs and heart, causing respiratory distress.

Along with coughing, infected cats may experience wheezing, labored breathing, abnormal heartbeat, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is crucial to seek veterinary attention if you suspect your cat has been affected by parasitic worms, as timely treatment can help prevent further complications.

cat with open mouth

Ingestion of Foreign Materials

Foreign materials, such as grass, bugs, or pieces of string, can sometimes find their way into a curious cat’s mouth. When cats ingest these foreign objects accidentally, it can lead to irritation and discomfort in their throat or airways.

This irritation often triggers coughing as the cat tries to expel the object or alleviate the discomfort. Ingested foreign materials can cause coughing, gagging, and even retching in cats.

If you notice your cat coughing with tongue out and suspect it may have ingested something unusual, it is important to monitor them closely and consult a veterinarian if needed for evaluation and treatment.


Hairballs are a common cause of coughing in cats, and they occur when your furry friend ingests hair during grooming. As cats use their tongues to groom themselves, loose hairs can easily be swallowed.

Normally, these hairs pass through the digestive system without any issues. However, sometimes the hairs gather into a tight mass in your cat’s stomach or intestines, forming what we know as hairballs.

When this happens, it can lead to irritation and discomfort for your kitty.

Feline Allergies

Feline allergies can be a common cause of coughing in cats. Cats can develop allergies to various airborne molecules, including pollen, dust mites, mold, smoke, and even high-dust cat litter.

These allergens can trigger an inflammatory response in the cat’s airways, leading to coughing. Allergies can occur at any time and may worsen with increased exposure to allergens.

It is important to identify and eliminate these triggers from the cat’s environment to help alleviate the symptoms of their allergic reaction. Seeking veterinary attention is crucial if the cat’s cough persists or if they exhibit other concerning symptoms, such as wheezing or difficulty breathing.

cats o form

Recognizing Other Symptoms

Recognizing other symptoms is crucial for understanding your cat’s condition. Look out for signs of respiratory distress, overheating, and changes in natural behavior. To learn more about these symptoms and how to help your cat, keep reading.

Respiratory Distress

Cats experiencing respiratory distress may exhibit symptoms such as rapid or labored breathingpanting, or wheezing. Their breaths may become shallow and quick, and they may struggle to catch their breath.

Respiratory distress in cats can be caused by various factors, including feline asthma, upper or lower respiratory infections, heartworm disease, or even physical obstructions in the airways.

It is important to seek immediate veterinary attention if your cat displays signs of respiratory distress, as it could indicate a serious underlying condition that requires prompt treatment.


Overheating is another symptom to watch out for when your cat coughs with tongue out. Cats are more susceptible to overheating compared to humans because they cannot sweat like we do.

Instead, they rely on panting and seeking cool spots in their environment to regulate their body temperature. If you notice your cat coughing with tongue out, it could be a sign that they are experiencing respiratory distress due to overheating.

This can happen if they are exposed to high temperatures or confined in an area with poor ventilation. Overheating can lead to serious health complications, so it’s important to monitor your cat’s environment and provide them with plenty of fresh water and a cool place to rest.

Natural Behavior

Cats have certain natural behaviors that can sometimes cause them to cough with their tongue out. One common example is when cats groom themselves using their tongues. They may accidentally ingest hair.

This hair can accumulate in their throat and lead to bouts of coughing as they try to clear it. Additionally, cats may occasionally groom each other or engage in play behavior that involves rough mouthing, which can also trigger a coughing reflex.

While these behaviors are generally harmless and temporary, it’s important to monitor your cat’s overall health and seek veterinary attention if the coughing persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms.

cat coughing

Identifying and Managing Cat Breathing Loudly

Cat breathing loudly, also known as wheezing, can be a cause for concern for cat owners. It is important to identify and manage this symptom promptly to ensure your cat’s well-being. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Observe your cat closely: Pay attention to your cat’s breathing patterns. Is it consistently loud? Does it seem labored or difficult? Take note of any changes in their breathing over time.
  • Check for other symptoms: Wheezing may be accompanied by other signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid breathing, coughing, and panting. Monitor your cat for these additional symptoms.
  • Assess their overall health: Look out for signs of illness or discomfort in your cat, such as lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, or changes in behavior. These can provide insights into the underlying cause of the loud breathing.
  • Keep a clean environment: Ensure that your cat’s living space is clean and free from potential irritants or allergens. Regularly clean their bedding and litter box to reduce the risk of respiratory issues.
  • Reduce stress factors: Stress can exacerbate respiratory problems in cats. Create a calm and stress-free environment for your feline companion by providing hiding spots, quiet spaces, and regular routines.
  • Consult with a veterinarian: If you notice persistent and concerning loud breathing in your cat, it is best to seek professional advice. A veterinarian can perform a thorough examination and diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

How to Help a Cat with Asthma

  • Provide a low-dust litter to minimize respiratory irritants.
  • Use a hypoallergenic litter to reduce allergens that can trigger asthma attacks.
  • Ensure good ventilation in the cat’s living environment to improve air quality.
  • Keep the cat indoors to limit exposure to outdoor allergens and pollutants.
  • Maintain a clean home by regularly vacuuming, dusting, and removing potential triggers like mold and pollen.

Home Remedies for Cats with Asthma

Home remedies for cats:

  • Provide a dust-free environment by using low-dust cat litter and hypoallergenic litter.
  • Keep the home well-ventilated to reduce the presence of airborne allergens.
  • Use an air purifier or humidifier to improve air quality and reduce irritants in the environment.
  • Minimize stress and anxiety for your cat through playtime, interactive toys, and a calm living space.
  • Ensure your cat maintains a healthy weight through a proper diet and regular exercise.
  • Consider incorporating natural remedies such as herbal supplements or essential oils (under veterinary guidance) that promote respiratory health.

When to Seek Veterinary Attention

If you notice your cat coughing with tongue out, it’s important to pay attention to the severity and frequency of this symptom. While occasional coughing can be normal for cats, persistent or worsening coughs may indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention.

Suppose your cat’s cough is accompanied by other concerning symptoms like wheezing, difficulty breathingblue tongue or gumsweight loss, lethargy, or any signs of respiratory distress. In that case, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary care.

These symptoms could be indicative of serious conditions such as feline asthma, upper respiratory infections, heartworm disease, or even throat obstructions due to foreign objects.

By getting prompt, professional help for your furry friend when needed, you can ensure proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment options to alleviate their discomfort and improve their overall well-being.

Treatment Options for a Cat Coughing With Tongue Out

Treating a cat coughing with tongue out involves various options, including medication, home care, and in rare cases, surgical intervention.


Medication plays a crucial role in the treatment of cats coughing with their tongue out. Depending on the underlying cause, such as feline asthma or respiratory infections, veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics to combat bacterial infectionsantiparasitic drugs to eliminate heartworms or other parasites, or even surgical intervention in rare cases.

In addition, medications like antihistamines can help manage cat allergies that contribute to coughing. For more severe cases, steroids and cough suppressants may be prescribed to alleviate inflammation and provide relief.

It’s important for cat owners to work closely with their veterinarian to determine the most appropriate medication and dosage for their furry friend’s specific needs.

Cat yawning

Home Care

To care for a cat coughing with tongue out at home, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Keep the environment clean: Ensure your cat’s living space is free from dust, allergens, and other irritants. Regularly clean their bedding and vacuum the area to reduce airborne particles.
  2. Provide fresh air: Open windows or use an air purifier to improve air quality and circulation in your home. This can help alleviate respiratory symptoms and make breathing easier for your cat.
  3. Control humidity: Use a humidifier in areas where your cat spends most of their time. The added moisture can help soothe irritated airways and reduce coughing.
  4. Follow a low-dust litter: Opt for low-dust or hypoallergenic cat litter to minimize exposure to allergens that could trigger coughing fits.
  5. Monitor diet: Ensure your cat is on a balanced diet that promotes overall health and immune system support. Consult a veterinarian about any dietary changes that may benefit your cat’s respiratory health.
  6. Reduce stress levels: Cats can develop coughing episodes due to stress or anxiety. Create a calm and safe environment for your pet by providing hiding spots, interactive toys, and spending quality time together.
  7. Limit exposure to irritants: Identify specific triggers causing your cat’s coughing episodes, such as cigarette smoke or strong cleaning chemicals. Minimize their exposure as much as possible.
  8. Keep them hydrated: Encourage your cat to drink plenty of water to keep their throat moist and prevent irritation.

Surgical intervention (in rare cases)

In rare cases, surgical intervention may be necessary as a treatment option for cats coughing with their tongue out. This can occur if there is a physical obstruction or foreign material blocking the airways, preventing proper breathing and causing coughing.

Surgery may be required to remove the obstruction or address any underlying issues causing the cough. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian who can determine if surgery is necessary and provide appropriate care for your furry friend.


In conclusion, if you notice your cat coughing with tongue out, it could be a sign of various underlying health issues. From feline asthma to respiratory infections and even foreign material blockages, it’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and seek veterinary attention if necessary.

Remember, early detection and proper treatment can greatly improve your cat’s quality of life.

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