Q: My American Curl has been coughing and wheezing for about a week or so. We keep the house clean and ensure that she has a balanced diet. However, I noticed that she has been  eating significantly lesser and gets lethargic easily. What should I do? 

A: Coughing and wheezing are one of the most common respiratory abnormalities in felines.

Coughing is often caused by irritation in the airways of your cat. Infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic), inhaled irritants (for example, dust, perfumes, cigarette smoke, insecticide aerosols) and foreign objects are common causes of airway irritance. Growths within the airway may also physically obstruct the airway. Preexisting heart conditions, extreme stress and obesity  may also result in a coughing puss. Regardless of the cause, chronic coughing indicates a condition that should be addressed. A wheeze typically produces a high pitch whistling sound when your furkid breathes in or out. It indicates airway-narrowing or spasms. It has similar causes to that of a coughing cat.

If your American Curl is a longhaired breed, it is probable that her coughing is associated with hairballs. Felines that shed a lot or clean themselves meticulously are more likely to develop hairballs. However, they should vomit rather than cough and the hairballs would typically appear tube-like when produced.

It is important to identify and resolve the cause of the coughing and wheezing in your furkid. Given that you have also noticed lethargy and a significant decrease in your puss’ appetite, I advise that you bring her to your vet for a full physical check-up as soon as possible. Further tests like blood tests and X-rays may also be in order depending on the findings of your feline’s physical examination. If you have a chance, you may also want to record a video of your cat’s coughing and wheezing episodes to assist in the diagnosis.