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Symptoms of Bronchitis in Cats

Source: PetWave, Updated on December 22, 2015

Effects of Feline Bronchitis - From the Cat’s Point of View

Bronchitis is a medical condition that involves inflammation of one or more of the airways of the respiratory tract, which are called “bronchi.” Sometimes, it also involves inflammation of the trachea, commonly referred to as the “wind pipe.” Bronchitis can come on suddenly, which is known as acute bronchitis, or it can show up very slowly, which is called chronic bronchitis. Cats with bronchitis don’t feel well and will cough, which is unusual for cats, even when they have something abnormal going on in their respiratory tract. However, coughing is the hallmark of feline bronchitis. Cats with bronchitis usually have a dry, hacking, gagging cough which owners often misinterpret as attempts at vomiting or “coughing up fur balls.” The cough can progressively become wet and productive. Cats with bronchitis tend to hunch down and stretch out their necks when they cough. Extreme coughing episodes often are associated with retching, vomiting and sneezing. Cats that cough because their trachea and bronchi are irritated will feel out-of-sorts and become lethargic and resistant to exercise.

Symptoms of Feline Bronchitis – What the Owner Sees

Coughing is the hallmark of feline bronchitis. Owners of affected cats may notice one or more of the following signs:

  • Cough – harsh, dry and hacking with acute-onset bronchitis
  • Cough – moist and bubbling with chronic bronchitis (may remain harsh, dry and hacking)
  • Gagging (often misinterpreted as “coughing up hairballs”)
  • Production of foamy saliva
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Decreased activity level
  • Runny nose
  • Lack of appetite (inappetance; anorexia)
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Weepy eyes (ocular discharge)
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties (dyspnea)
  • Wheezing
  • Sneezing

Cats with bronchitis tend to hunch down into a squatting position and stretch their necks out when they cough. Coughing episodes come and go and often progressively worsen over time

Cats at Increased Risk of Developing Bronchitis

Bronchitis has been diagnosed in all breeds of cats. However, Siamese cats seem to be more prone to developing this disorder than other breeds. Female cats are diagnosed with bronchitis more often than are male cats. Still, feline bronchitis is relatively common in males and females and cats of all breeds or mixed breeds. Any signs of respiratory distress in cats should always be taken seriously. Anytime a companion kitty has a dry or moist cough, runny eyes and/or nasal discharge, or if it is wheezing and sneezing repeatedly, it should be taken to a veterinarian for a thorough physical examination and evaluation. The owner should keep good records of when the coughing starts, how frequently it occurs and any other changes in the cat’s behavior, appetite and/or energy level. This information will be especially helpful to the attending veterinarian as she examines the cat and moves towards a diagnosis.

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