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Kennel Cough Symptoms in Cats

Updated on March 25, 2016

This Article Could Save Your Cat's Life

It is very important to catch the signs of kennel cough in kitties.
It is very important to catch the signs of kennel cough in kitties. | Source

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a medical condition that occurs primarily in dogs but what many people don't know is, is that kennel cough is occasionally passed onto as cats, as well. The official name for kennel cough in cats is feline bordetellosis.If kennel cough is found in cats, it is a more serious condition than in dogs and should be treated immediately.

This article will focus on kennel cough in cats, only. The information here is different when it comes to dogs. Look at this article from the ASPCA for more information about kennel cough in dogs.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only, and not intended to replace advice from your personal veterinarian. Please contact your local animal health professional for any questions about your pet.

Kennel Cough is Found in Cats

Many people don't know that kennel cough can be found in cats. It is extremely rare, but it does happen, usually when overcrowding of animals has occurred.

How Cats Get Kennel Cough

As I mentioned earlier, kennel cough is primarily a dog condition and is quite rare in felines in the general population, although found occasionally in animal shelters. A call to my local veterinarian told me that vets in my area (Western Canada) rarely see this condition in cats and they do not offer a vaccine for this condition.

There are three factors that can increase the risk of an outbreak of kennel cough in an animal shelter or kennel. First, overcrowded conditions or poor ventialltion mean the pathogen carries easily through air. Secondly, any overcrowding can lead to increased stress, which makes animals more susceptible. Lastly, any place that has poor hygiene can also increase the risk of the disease.

Kennel cough, or feline bordetellosis, is caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica pathogen. It is transmitted mainly through airborne particles, which travel through animal sneezing and coughing. It can also be passed on through animal to animal direct touch, human to animal touch, and well as through contaminants. Cats can carry the disease and pass it on to another dog or cat, even if they themselves do not manifest the symptoms.

Look Out For The Cough In Cats

A soft cough is the main symptom of kennel cough in cats.
A soft cough is the main symptom of kennel cough in cats. | Source

What Are The Symptoms on Kennel Cough In Cats?

The main symptom of kennel cough is its namesake: a soft cough. The pet may also experience loss of appetite, a raw throat and congestion.

I was able to speak with Dr. Erika Anseeuw, the Director of Animal Health Services at the Winnipeg Humane Society. Dr. Anseeuw is a specialist in infectious diseases and has extensive experience in this area.

Dr. Anseeuw informed me that symptoms of kennel cough are quite similar to those of other respiratory conditions but the tell-tale clue that it is likely feline bordetella, and not another respiratory illness, is the presence of a cough.

If your cat is experiencing cold-like symptoms, without the cough, the main cause is most likely not feline bordetellosis, but rather other upper respiratory conditions more commonly found in cats. A diagnosis from your veterinarian will be confirm one way or the other. The cough is a symptom that makes it more likely it is kennel cough.

Dr. Anseeuw emphasized that if there is no cough, it is acceptable to wait and see, but with the cough, it is imperative to get treatment because the condition can lead to death, even in healthy adult cats.

Can Humans Catch It?

Can humans catch feline bordetellosis? Most sources say no, but a few say it may be a slight risk for people with an extremely compromised immune system or for the very young.

See The Vet!

Be sure to visit your veterinarian if your cat exhibits kennel cough symptoms.
Be sure to visit your veterinarian if your cat exhibits kennel cough symptoms. | Source

Prevention and Treatments for Kennel Cough in Cats

Dr. Erika Anseeuw also told me that vaccines for kennel cough for cats are not very effective. They have been tried at her shelter but don't usually work.

As mentioned, she recommended that if a cat appears to have kennel cough symptoms, that the cat be taken to the vet immediately, where there is an antibiotic that will attack the bacteria.

As well, it is recommended that any animals with the condition should be isolated from other animals because it is highly contagious. The cat should also be given comfort and bed rest and allowed to wait it out until healing occurs. Make sure the cat is still eating by offering tasty wet cat food.

Prevention of kennel cough can be found in practicing good hygiene, avoiding overcrowding and ensuring animals do not experience undue stress.


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    • HSP Connections profile image

      Peter Messerschmidt 2 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

      I did not know this existed in cats... it's valuable information to have. We have three cats and one of them does cough occasionally, but we've been told he's the cat version of asthmatic. But it's good to have the info-- thanks!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Anna, I am so glad it was helpful! Have a wonderful night and thanks for the comment.

    • annstaub profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Round Rock, TX

      Great information, thanks for sharing!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Print, I"m sorry to hear of your allergies. My husband has just come down with allergies to cats and we have three cats. Thanks for the read and the comment, anyway! Take care.

      @Truth, I am glad the information could come out, and hopefully it helps someone whose cat has the symptoms. Thanks for coming by!

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Wow. I did not know cats could get kennel cough. Thanks very much for getting us such important information. I now know what to look out for.

    • PrintOz profile image

      PrintOz 5 years ago

      I am deathly allergic to cats! lol very interesting read though. ;) Thanks PrairiePrincess!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Molometer, thanks so much for the shares and votes. That means a lot. It is strange and I didn't realize it, either, until I did the research. I was very fortunate to be able to talk to someone so knowledgeable about the condition. Take care!

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I never knew that cats could get Kennel cough. How weird. It is good to share what the symptoms are in cats, so we know what to look out for.

      Very well written and researched hub.

      PS feline bordetellosis reminds me of a girl I once knew in France.

      Voted up interesting and useful. Pinning

      Tweeting this to all the cat people out there.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Alicia, thanks for the comment. Yes, it is useful "just in case," this happens in their cat. Have a great day!

      @Teaches, thanks for the comment. Thank goodness that she hasn't had anything like this. Take care!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Poor things, I didn't realize this was possible. Occasionally, my cat would sneeze and I was concerned over this, but it wasn't a cough like this. Good information for cat owners.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the information, prairieprincess. It's good for cat owners to know that their pet can get kennel cough and to watch for the symptoms.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Kashmir, thank you so much. It's good for pet owners to know all they can about possible medical conditions. Have a wonderful night!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend, great useful and valuable information within this well written hub,well done !

      Vote up and more !

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      @Shea, I am so glad your dog recovered, and is loving your cats! :) Yes, it is very rare but does appear in some cats. It is something to look out for, but it's almost always when cats have been exposed to cats in a crowded situation.

      @Kissayer, it was new information to me, too. I have heard the cough in dogs is a horrible sound. Thanks for stopping by.

      @RW, I am glad I was able to find this information to share, too, Rob. Although very rare, it is good to know that it is a possibility. Have a wonderful day.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      Hi P.P.; Very useful information for cat owners. I'm very familiar with dogs kennel cough but this cat information is new to me.

      Thanks for the info,


    • kissayer profile image

      Kristy Sayer 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This is interesting! I didn't know cats could get kennel cough. My older dog has had it a few times and it's awful.

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 5 years ago from new jersey

      I'm glad I read this. I've been told that cats don't get it.... but now I know they do.

      I rescued my dog from a shelter... she had kennel cough and the people at the shelter were going to put her down... FOR kennel cough! Glad she is ok... and she loves my cats.