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7 Year old Cat Coughing

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.

  
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Mama

I think I'm a- princess!
 
 
Purred: Tue Sep 25, '12 11:15pm PST 
My cat Mama will be 7 yrs old in a couple months. I have had her since birth and in her first 3 months of life she was very sick. All her litter-mates died at 3 months old for unknown reasons. Mama almost died too, but by some miracle she survived. Since then she has been a very healthy cat (except that she has the herpes virus-I have 8 cats and they are all infected with the herpes virus).

Since the first of this year Mama has had a strange cough. This might be a coincidence, but around the time she developed this cough, we had brought a new kitten (Gypsy) in to our home. Gypsy developed a cough and other scary symptoms several weeks after we brought her inside (she was a semi-feral kitten that had gotten attacked and needed surgery so we brought her in to recouperate from the surgery, and once she was healed we couldn't bear to put her back outside, so she's been our cat ever since!)

I have been wondering this whole year if Gypsy gave Mama something that caused this cough in Mama. Gypsy doesn't cough anymore. When Gypsy got very sick right after we brought her inside, we rushed her to our vet and he gave her some anti-biotics and some other meds and within a couple weeks she was better. When I noticed Mama had developed a cough, I rushed her to the vet too. I asked my vet if Gypsy could have had Bordetella bronchiseptica (like kennel cough-uncommon in cats but not unheard of in outdoor cats exposed to many feral and stray cats)and maybe Gypsy could have passed it to Mama. My vet thought it was unlikely, but gave me medicine to treat Bordetella, which I gave to Mama. But it's been 9 or so months and Mama is still coughing!

I've taken her back to my vet several times, each time questioning what this cough could be from. My vet has said that maybe it's from the herpes, but Mama's had herpes her whole life and never had a cough before this year! So that doesn't make sense to me. None of my vets treatments have gotten rid of her cough and I'm getting really frustrated because I think somethings wrong and I want to fix it.

I took her in to my vet last week, determined to figure this out. I asked my vet to take an x-ray of her chest, but after listening to her lungs and saying they sounded clear, he didn't think an x-ray was necessary. I then asked him to please do a blood test to check for any issues. He did do that (a basic blood panel), but everything came back normal. My vets now having me give her a decongestant, but it isn't really making a difference.

I just want to explain Mama's cough so you all can get an idea of what I'm dealing with. I have a cat (Boo Boo) with asthma who coughs, but Mama's cough is very different from his. Mama sounds like a human coughing. It's a deep, hacking cough. I have a really busy schedule, so I don't get to spend much quality time with her until the evening, when I get in bed. That's when I hear the cough most often. She will cuddle up to me and start making dough, then she'll start hacking and abruptly walk away from me and go lay at the end of my bed. She also extends her neck multiple times when she's coughing, as if something is in her throat. I asked my vet if she could have some kind of growth in her throat, but he didn't seem to want to check for that. He said to look in her throat he would have to sedate her and put a scope down her throat, and it would be expensive (he knows I am pretty poor and I have so many special needs cats that I spend a lot of money at the vets on a regular basis).

I don't want you to get the wrong idea about my vet because he has been an amazing vet to my animals over the past decade. He has saved several of their lives in emergencies and he often gives me discounts when I don't have the money for certain services. But I am a little frustrated with him that he is not figuring out what's wrong with my Mama. Mama is my special girl and I obsess about her health because it was such a difficult time when all her siblings died and she was so sick.

Has anyone on here experienced coughing in their cats? What could be causing this? What sort of tests should I ask my vet to preform? I really want to figure this out because I could not handle losing Mama. It has been a really hard couple of years for me because I lost my 12 year old cat Deliah in 2010, then last year my beloved aunt Debbie lost her 7 year battle with cancer, and four months after my aunt died my 12 yr old dog Bodhi died from complications of Cushings Disease. I am still recovering from all these deaths and my heart can't handle another. I don't have a clue whether Mama has some terrible disease or if it's something that can be managed or cured, but whatever it is, I've got to get to the bottom of it!

Any advice would be gratefully appreciated!
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Merlin - An Angel- Forever

*Poof*
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 26, '12 4:16am PST 
It could be asthma thinking Try to get the coughing on video and show it to your vet. A tracheal wash and x rays can be done to determine asthma or maybe even something else. If you want a test or procedure done, your vet should be able to do it even if he says it's not necessary. No vet should deny a client the option of further testing to get to the bottom of a mysterious symptom, IMO. Even if everything comes back normal, it's worth the money and piece of mind.

Here's a web site with info about feline asthma: http://www.fritzthebrave.com/

Coughing could also indicate heartworms or allergies.
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Mama

I think I'm a- princess!
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 26, '12 4:45am PST 
Wouldn't it be strange for a cat that's 7 yrs old to suddenly have asthma when she's had no symptoms of it her whole life? I haven't looked at the site you linked, but I'll check that out.

I never thought about heartworms...I guess b/c she's mainly been an indoor cat. Years ago I used to let her go outside (supervised) for a half hour or so every once in awhile. But it's been several years since she's been outdoors b/c we have so many strays & ferals out there so I don't feel safe about letting her out now. I will ask my vet about heartworms.

I'm just so confused b/c I have a cat that SUPPOSEDLY has asthma. His cough is very different than Mama's. When he coughs, he puts his head real low to the ground & coughs (more like wheezes) real quietly. Mama coughs this loud, hacking cough. I've never heard a cat cough like her. Of course, I question whether my male my vet disgnosed with asthma really has asthma cuz he also has an enlarged heart, which makes me think he has some sort of cardiomyopathy. I have read online thst cats with cardiomyopathy often cough, but my vet said thats rare in csts, & coughing due to cardiomyopathy is more common in dogs...???....not sure what to believe.

I think if I had insisted about the x-ray my vet would have done it. But I'm always up front with him & tell him I only have X amount of money each time I go in. I think he was more interested in doing the other tests he did that day, & knewbthe x-rays would go over my budget. I ended up spending my whole budget that visit without the x-rays. I just wish the tests he deemed more important that day had shown SOMETHING! I don't know. My vet did say Mama's heart sounded great. Would heartworms affect how a cats heart sounds?

In the meantime I'm gonna keep giving her the decongestant till I get some money next week to take her back in.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Merlin - An Angel- Forever

*Poof*
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 26, '12 9:03am PST 
Asthma can show up at anytime. I was diagnosed with asthma at 12 years old when I started coughing. I had never coughed before that. Coughing can sound different from one cat to the next.

Heartworms would be visible on an x-ray, I think thinking Heartworms can affect the blood flow through the heart which a vet can detect.

You can always get a second vet opinion smile
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Sammie

little stinker
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 26, '12 10:27am PST 
merlin might be right, it can be asthma. sammie does the extended neck and he puts his head real low to the ground & coughs. does mamma spit anything out? sammie swallows what ever he coughs up. also, sammie coughed for a couple yrs, and we thought it was just a furball, my vet said you need to get the kitty x-rayed within 24yrs of coughing, the closer the better. because the inflamation from the asthma attack goes away, so, I hope this helps.

purrs
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Mama

I think I'm a- princess!
 
 
Purred: Wed Sep 26, '12 6:51pm PST 
I never knew that about asthma. I guess I thought if you have it, you were born with it. Hmm...

No, Mama never spits anything out. But after she starts her coughing, she swollows hard several times.

btw, it's my male cat Boo Boo who was diagnosed with asthma, and he's the one who puts his head low to the ground and coughs quietly. Mama coughs standing or sitting up, and it's very loud and sounds like a human coughing! Mama & Boo Boo's coughs are very different.

I probably won't get a second opinion because honestly, I can't afford to. I am so endebted to my vet because he is constantly giving me discounts and not charging me for certain things. I'm so poor and I have SO many rescues, many who have special needs. I'm at the vet so much I often spend money I need for my own needs on my cats. For instance, right now I have $0 and don't know how I'm going to get through the next five days without money. Just this month I've spent probably $400 on my animals....maybe more. Luckily I have all my animals needs met (liter, food, meds, etc) but of course I'm scared to death that one of them will fall ill and need to go to the vet in the next five days. That would be a nightmare. But if worse comes to worse, my vet will often treat my animals if it's an emergency and let me pay the bill when I get the money together.

Sigh. If only I were rich...I could do so much to help animals in need. It's so funny, but so many of the hard-core animal lovers and rescuers I know are poor or low-income. We sacrifice so much to help any animal we can. Sometimes i wish I didn't have this deep-rooted passion to save animals. If I didn't, I would have all my needs met and have a lot less stress in my life. But I am who I am and I know I will always dedicate my life to saving animals. That's my purpose smile
[notify]

Merlin - An Angel- Forever

*Poof*
 
 
Purred: Thu Sep 27, '12 9:12am PST 
Maybe it's just a hairball the cat is trying to get out? shrug Human's Leroy coughs and lip smacks and swallows hard sometimes shrug Nothing ever comes out, though. The vet has done lots of testing and x rays and even sticking a camera into the throat but there is nothing wrong shrug Human gives him hairball gel just in case.
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Mama

I think I'm a- princess!
 
 
Purred: Thu Sep 27, '12 12:44pm PST 
I never considered it could be hairball related, I suppose because I have never seen Mama cough up a furball before...plus I didn't equate her hacking cough with furballs. We have several cats who pass furballs frequently, but they never cough, just dry heave till they throw them up. But I'm willing to try anything, so I'll get her on some hairball remedy & see if it helps.

I am really wondering if this IS asthma. My vet didn't think that was the problem because her lungs sounded perfectly clear. I really wish my vet would have done an x-ray. He did say it might be the herpes causing the coughing. She's had herpes pretty much her whole life & never coughed, but I suppose since she's getting older, she could develop new herpes symptoms. Does anyone have a cat with herpes that developed a chronic cough?

I want to reiterate that Mama is almost 7 years old, & never coughed until the first of this year. That's what confuses me. Since January 2012 she's had a constant, chronic cough. That's why the asthma theory interests me. The only problem is my vet doesn't believe she has asthma & he's the expert.

Thanks for all the feedback! There's been some great ideas posted & I'd love to hear more, especially from people with experience with cats with herpes. I'm determined to get to the bottom of this & appreciate getting feedback from other cat lovers!
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Coopurr

I still suck my- thumb...
 
 
Purred: Thu Sep 27, '12 7:19pm PST 
Coopurr's a herpes kitty, too. We've had to deal with coughing, too.

We had a huge scare last year. He'd been coughing for two days -- at first sporadically, then on the day that it became persistent, I took him to the vet. Our vet is extremely thorough. He took x-rays, and it was a lower respiratory infection. However, he was afraid that Coop's heart was a little large. (Coop is a big cat -- he's very long and he weighs around 12 pounds.) Just to be safe, our vet also did a sonogram -- a lower respiratory and coughing can also indicate symptoms of cardiomyopathy. And he sent the report to a cardiologist.

We were VERY lucky that it was only an infection, and with meds, he cleared up in a couple of days.

Our vet tends to think it's seasonal (allergies), and as long as it doesn't become a huge problem, he does't want to stress Coop out with further testing.

He's had a couple of coughs here and there since, but it usually clears up with some extra lysine.

Coop is my first experience with a herpes kitty, and it seems like you really do learn something new every day. With Coop, there are things I've learned to manage, but if there's any doubt, I always take him to the vet...just in case.

I hope this helps, and I hope the babies are feeling better soon!
Purrs,
Coop's Mom
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Coopurr

I still suck my- thumb...
 
 
Purred: Thu Sep 27, '12 7:22pm PST 
PS I thought it might be a hairball, too, but it wasn't. Start with X-rays, then see what the results are. Next steps are usually cardiogram then tracheal wash. We avoided the trach wash. (Thank GOODNESS!)
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