Do Cats Get Kennel Cough?

As pet owners, we all want our furry friends to be healthy and happy. We give them the best food, exercise, and medical care possible. But what happens when our cats start coughing and showing signs of respiratory distress? Is it just a common cold or something more serious like kennel cough?

Kennel cough is often associated with dogs, but as a pet expert, I can tell you that cats can also contract this illness. It presents itself as a respiratory infection with symptoms such as coughing, nasal discharge, sneezing, fever, and lethargy. The severity of the illness varies depending on the cat’s age, immune system, and underlying health conditions.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at kennel cough in cats – its causes, symptoms, and treatment methods. Whether you’re a feline aficionado or a concerned pet parent, this informative guide will provide you with everything you need to know about cats and kennel cough.

So get ready for an engaging read that will help you understand how to keep your cat healthy and happy.

What is Kennel Cough?

Unfortunately, there are illnesses that can affect both dogs and cats, one of which is kennel cough. Known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, this highly contagious respiratory disease is caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses, such as the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium and the canine parainfluenza virus in dogs. Kennel cough can spread quickly in places where pets are kept in close quarters, such as boarding kennels, dog shows, and shelters.

If your pet has kennel cough, you may notice a persistent dry or wet cough, sneezing, runny nose, and eye discharge. These symptoms may sound like your pet is choking or gagging and could also indicate other respiratory illnesses. It’s important to take your pet to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Cats can contract a similar respiratory disease called feline infectious respiratory disease (FIRD). This illness has similar symptoms to kennel cough in dogs, including coughing, sneezing, and discharge from the nose and eyes. Cats living in a multi-cat environment such as a shelter or cattery are more susceptible to the infection, especially those with weakened immune systems.

Treatment for both kennel cough and FIRD typically involves antibiotics and supportive care such as hydration and rest. It’s important to isolate infected pets from other animals in the household to prevent the spread of infection.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Cats

Your beloved cat can contract this highly contagious respiratory disease, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis.

The symptoms of kennel cough in cats may vary from one feline to another, and some may not show any symptoms at all. However, the most common symptoms include a persistent dry cough that may sound like a honking noise. This cough can be triggered by exercise or excitement. Additionally, cats with kennel cough may sneeze and have nasal discharge that is either clear or cloudy. They may also lose their appetite, become lethargic, and have difficulty breathing or wheezing in severe cases.

It’s important to take note that not all cats with kennel cough will display all of these symptoms. However, if you do notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it is crucial to take them to the vet immediately. Young kittens or elderly cats with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable and can develop serious complications if left untreated.

Causes of Kennel Cough in Cats

This highly contagious respiratory disease can cause a persistent dry cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. As a cat owner, it’s important to be aware of the different causes of kennel cough in cats and how to prevent it from affecting your beloved pet.

The most common culprit of kennel cough in cats is the feline herpesvirus (FHV-1), a highly contagious virus that spreads rapidly from one cat to another. Similar to the herpes virus in humans, FHV-1 affects the upper respiratory system and can cause symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes). The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with infected cats or contaminated surfaces like food bowls and litter boxes.

Another viral cause of kennel cough in cats is the feline calicivirus (FCV), which can produce symptoms similar to FHV-It is also spread through direct contact with infected cats or contaminated surfaces. Vaccinating your cat against FCV can significantly decrease their risk of contracting the virus.

Bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and Chlamydophila felis are also known culprits of kennel cough in cats. These infections are commonly found in animal shelters or other crowded areas where cats are kept together. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and fever.

It’s crucial to take preventive measures to keep your cat healthy and happy. To avoid kennel cough, keep your cat away from infected animals and vaccinate them against viruses like FCV. Additionally, keeping their environment clean and disinfecting their food bowls and litter boxes regularly can reduce the risk of infection.

Risk Factors for Kennel Cough in Cats

One illness that may not be as common in cats as it is in dogs, but is still important to be aware of, is kennel cough. So what are the risk factors for kennel cough in cats?

Exposure to infected animals is the biggest risk factor for cats developing kennel cough. Whether they’re housed together in animal shelters or boarding facilities, or they come into contact with an infected dog, cats can contract the illness from a variety of viruses and bacteria that can be transmitted between species.

Another important risk factor for kennel cough in cats is their immune system. Older cats or those with pre-existing health conditions may have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to respiratory infections like kennel cough. Stress and overcrowding can also take a toll on a cat’s immune system, leaving them more prone to illness.

Certain breeds of cats may also be more prone to developing kennel cough than others. Siamese and Persian cats have been shown to be at a higher risk for respiratory infections in general, which means they may also be more likely to contract kennel cough if exposed to the illness.

It’s essential to note that while cats can develop kennel cough, they typically experience milder symptoms than dogs. In some cases, your furry friend may not show any symptoms at all. However, if you suspect your cat has been exposed to kennel cough or is exhibiting any signs of respiratory illness, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care immediately.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Kennel Cough in Cats

However, illnesses can occur, and it’s important to recognize and treat them promptly. One respiratory disease that cats can get is kennel cough, caused by a mix of viruses and bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, parainfluenza virus, and adenovirus. Although it’s more commonly associated with dogs, cats can also contract the illness through exposure to infected animals, weakened immune systems, and certain breeds.

Diagnosing kennel cough in cats can be tricky since the symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses. The most common signs include persistent dry cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever. To diagnose kennel cough in cats, your veterinarian may perform a physical exam and take a swab of your cat’s nasal discharge. They may also carry out chest x-rays or blood tests to rule out other respiratory illnesses.

Treatment for kennel cough in cats may involve antibiotics to treat any bacterial infections present and antiviral medications to tackle the viral component of the disease. Your veterinarian may also recommend supportive care such as humidifiers, steam therapy, and nebulization treatments to help your cat breathe more easily. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

Prevention is key when it comes to kennel cough in cats. If you plan on boarding your cat or exposing them to other cats, ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Additionally, practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and disinfecting surfaces in your home if you have multiple cats.

Prevention of Kennel Cough in Cats

One respiratory disease that can afflict cats is kennel cough. But don’t worry, prevention is key. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of kennel cough in cats.

Firstly, it’s vital to reduce your cat’s exposure to other felines who may be infected. Avoid areas such as boarding facilities, shelters, and grooming salons where many cats congregate. If you do need to take your cat to these places, ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccines and that the facility follows good hygiene practices.

Apart from reducing exposure, there are other measures you can take to bolster your cat’s immune system and lower their susceptibility to kennel cough. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress-management techniques can all go a long way in boosting your cat’s immunity.

Seeking advice from your veterinarian about preventative options such as nasal vaccines or immune-boosting supplements is a smart move. These options can be especially helpful if your cat is older, has underlying health conditions, or frequently interacts with other cats.


In conclusion, don’t let the name fool you – kennel cough is not just for dogs. Our feline friends can also fall victim to this pesky respiratory illness. If your cat starts exhibiting symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and lethargy, they may have contracted kennel cough.

The severity of the illness can vary depending on factors like age, immune system strength, and underlying health conditions. Viral infections like FHV-1 and FCV, as well as bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and Chlamydophila felis, are common culprits behind kennel cough in cats.

Cats living in multi-cat environments are at higher risk of infection, especially those with weakened immune systems. To prevent kennel cough in cats, it’s important to avoid boarding facilities and grooming salons where many cats congregate. Good hygiene practices and preventative measures like vaccines or immune-boosting supplements can also help keep your cat healthy.

If you suspect your furry friend has been exposed to kennel cough or is showing signs of respiratory distress, seek veterinary care immediately. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and supportive care like hydration and rest.

As responsible pet owners, we must prioritize our cat’s health by remaining vigilant against illnesses like kennel cough.