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Can Cats Get Kennel Cough?

Can Cats Get Kennel Cough? | BetterVet

Many dog parents will be aware that our canine companions can get this infectious respiratory disease, but can cats get kennel cough too?

Can Cats Get Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is primarily a respiratory infection affecting dogs. However, cats can also be susceptible to a similar condition called feline bordetellosis, caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacterium is related to the one that commonly causes kennel cough in dogs.

How Can You Tell if Your Cat has Kennel Cough Symptoms?

If your cat has kennel cough, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Coughing a hacking cough that may sound like your cat needs to clear his/her throat.
  • Gagging – it’s common for cats with kennel cough to gag or retch during or at the end of a bout of coughing.
  • Vomiting – occasionally cats will vomit or regurgitate after coughing, especially if they have eaten or drank very recently.
  • Lethargy – your coughing cat might feel poorly and not want to move around much.
  • Reduced appetite – if your cat runs a fever, or if their throat is sore from coughing, he/she might not want to eat.
  • Breathing changes – in rare instances, your cat’s breathing may be quicker or more labored. (NOTE: if this is the case you should make contact with a veterinarian immediately).

How is Kennel Cough Treated in Cats?

Kennel cough is often self-limiting, and you may find that your cat gets over it without treatment if their symptoms are mild. However, if they develop a fever, stop eating, or their breathing is affected, they will likely need medication.

A veterinarian can prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat the Bordetella infection, as well as an anti-inflammatory medication to lower their temperature and reduce soreness in their throat.

In rare situations, the infection can spread to the lower airways, and in this case, your cat might need to stay in the veterinary hospital for a few days for close monitoring.

Can Kennel Cough in Cats be Prevented?

If you have a dog, you might be aware of the kennel cough vaccination for dogs. There’s also a Bordetella vaccination for cats, but it's not used very often.

This is because kennel cough in cats is not very common and rarely causes severe symptoms.

However, if your cat is more at risk, perhaps due to regularly going into a cattery or having contact with a lot of of cats in an indoor environment, book an appointment to speak to a member of our team about the vaccine.

What Should You do if Your Cat is Coughing?

If your cat is coughing and you’re not sure of the cause, it’s always best to book an appointment with your veterinarian. Many cases of kennel cough in cats will resolve quickly with only mild symptoms.

However, other causes of coughing include feline asthma, allergies, heart disease, and foreign bodies like grass blades in the nose or throat. Therefore, it's important to get a diagnosis from a vet and discuss appropriate treatment options.

If your cat seems unwell or their breathing is different from normal, make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

In conclusion, although it's not as common as in dogs, cats can also be affected by kennel cough. Knowing the symptoms to look out for and when to seek veterinary advice will help you keep your feline friend as healthy as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can kennel cough transfer to cats?

A range of viruses and bacteria can cause kennel cough in dogs. Only one of these pathogens, the bacterium Bordetella, can transfer to cats and cause kennel cough.

How long does kennel cough last in cats?

The duration of kennel cough symptoms will vary depending on your cat's immune system, age, and general health. However, it's unusual for the symptoms to go on for more than a couple of weeks.

Is kennel cough contagious to cats or humans?

Kennel cough can be transferred between cats and dogs if it is caused by the bacterium Bordetella. Although rare, it is possible for humans to contract kennel cough from their pets, especially in immune-compromised people.

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