Dear Dr. Baum --
Hi, my shorthair cat coughs all the time. He
appears to be in no discomfort other than the frequent coughing; I
have never seen him throw up. I thought the problem was hairballs
but the treatments I have bought haven't been working. Online I read
about Vaseline in his food would help but it hasn't. Any ideas would
be greatly appreciated.
Hi, Ashlyn --
The two most common conditions that cause chronic recurring bouts of
coughing in cats are hairballs and bronchial asthma. Sometimes
both conditions can be present at the same time. When I suspect
hairballs, I will have the owner administer Petromalt or Laxatone
medication two or three times per day.
If relief is not apparent within forty-eight hours, I begin to suspect asthma. This
diagnosis can be confirmed on physical examination, whereupon
listening to the lungs, one can hear high pitched sounds (known as
dry rales). An X-ray of the chest will usually confirm the
These cats are usually treated with an injection of steroids (methylprednisolone 20
mg) which relieves the inflammation that was constricting the air
passages in the lungs. Depending on the severity of the signs, oral
prednisone is often used as a follow up.
We have also
attempted the use of inhalers but found them not to be effective, as
our patients wouldn't cooperate and inhale deeply at the time the
inhaler was discharged.