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4 Causes Why A Cat Sounds Congested But No Discharge

4 Causes Why A Cat Sounds Congested But No Discharge

We’re not the only ones that might sound congested; our beloved cats can have this problem, too.

You’re probably expecting your cat to also show nasal discharge together with her sounding congested. But, this doesn’t seem to be happening.

Why would a cat sound congested, but show no discharge? This might be due to various health issues. Since some of these issues will require veterinary care, you shouldn’t ignore this.

So, let’s see what are the most common health problems these symptoms could indicate.

1. Cold

large fluffy red cat lies beautifully on the floor

Your cat sounds congested but no discharge? She might be having a common cold. Yes, kittens too can have a cold, and their symptoms are similar to ours. 

Cold in humans doesn’t necessarily have to manifest in a runny nose, and this is also the case with felines.

If your cat has a cold, you might also notice she isn’t interested in playing with you, she could meow more, and her appetite might decrease. 

Cats usually catch a cold during colder months, when this virus occurs due to a temperature change. 

Also, cats can get cold if they come in contact with another feline who already has it. 

How To Treat?

You should ensure your kitten gets plenty of rest in a warm, comfy environment. Also, she needs to drink a lot of water to compensate for the lost fluids.

Refusal to eat can be seen in many cats with cold – they aren’t able to smell the food due to congestion. You can try using a humidifier to help your cat breathe easier, and to encourage her to eat. 

Furthermore, you should wash your cat’s beddings, and her food and water bowls. If you have multiple cats, this is especially important, since the common cold is highly contagious..

If you take all these measures, but after a few days you don’t see any progress, you should call the veterinarian.

2. Allergies

gray tabby cat sneezes and sits on the asphalt

I’m sure you know at least one person that’s allergic to cats. This might even be a reason for some people to avoid having pets.

But, allergies don’t present a problem only for humans; felines can have allergies, too, and, in some cases, they can bother them a lot. 

Allergic reactions might be a reason why a cat sounds congested (but no discharge!). Additional symptoms of allergies are coughing, intense scratching, meowing, and even diarrhea and vomiting.

Several allergens can trigger reactions in felines, such as flea bites, food ingredients, cigarette smoke, and pollen. 

There are also home or indoor allergens cats might be prone to, such as mold, dust, and mites. Mites are the most frequent allergens in environmental allergy in both dogs and cats, according to Lorente Méndez and Wagner [1].

How To Treat? 

Allergies might be hard for cats, but, luckily, most of them are easy to define and treat. The treatment will depend on the allergen type. 

First of all, you should consult the vet who will recommend the best allergy treatment, or an allergy shot for your cat.

Also, there are some steps you should do, too.

Try your best to always keep your home clean of dust and dirt. Although you shouldn’t bathe your indoor cat often, since she is perfectly capable of grooming herself, frequent bathing will be good for a cat suffering from allergies. Baths will relieve her itching problem.

If a food allergy is confirmed in your cat, the vet will advise you on the best way to change your cat’s diet. 

If you’re a smoker, or any of your guests usually smoke inside your house, try changing this habit, since it can cause your cat to sound congested due to her smoke allergy.

3. Foreign Bodies

black and white cat grimacing with his mouth open

Another reason why your cat might sound congested, but you’ll not notice discharge in her is due to a foreign body obstructing her airways.

You can see your cat exploring her surroundings every day. Well, sometimes, she might ingest something she shouldn’t. This can be anything she finds inside the house, such as paper, some plant material, a rubber band, or even a small toy!

Sometimes these objects won’t harm your cat, however, it’s possible they get stuck in a cat’s trachea. 

This can cause her to sound congested. Some cats might also cough and gag

How To Treat?

If you suspect that a foreign body is causing your cat to sound congested, you need to take her to the vet immediately.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, the veterinarian will probably recommend to hospitalize your cat, to be able to closely observe the process of the foreign object in her trachea.

If necessary, the veterinarian will also undertake the exploratory surgery.

4. Heart Disease

Adorable scottish black tabby cat.

Unfortunately, there’s also a chance that a cat that sounds congested and shows no discharge will have a heart disease – congestive heart failure to be precise. 

A cat suffering from a heart condition will have trouble breathing, since the fluid will be accumulated in her chest cavity. This accumulation will make it difficult for a cat to breathe normally, causing her to sound congested. 

Some additional symptoms that might appear are lethargy, weight loss, abdominal bloating, and even loss of consciousness. Cats with heart problems could also breathe heavily while resting.

How To Treat?

This condition can be very severe, even life-threatening for felines. Still, proper treatment in the early stage of the heart disease will decrease the chance of further damage to a cat’s heart.

The vet will undertake chest x-rays and a heart ultrasound to determine the exact state of heart disease in your cat. 

When he diagnoses your cat, the vet will prescribe proper medications she will likely need to consume for the rest of her life.

So, if you notice your cat sounds congested without visible discharge, don’t ignore this! Your cat’s life might even be in danger.

Also, it’s essential to mention how important prevention is here. This is why Kuan Hua Khor and Mei Xin Chin [2] recommend pet parents to bring their cats for echocardiography screening annually.

This is the best way to check the cat’s heart status and the progress of the cardiac disorders, if a cat has any of them. This is especially important for breeds that are predisposed to heart diseases, such as Ragdolls, Maine Coons, and Persians.


Should you be worried if your cat sounds congested, but there’s no discharge?

This might be due to a cold or allergies, which can be treated, pretty easily.

However, a foreign body stuck in your cat’s trachea will require emergency veterinary care. Another potential cause of these symptoms, heart problems, can even be life-threatening for felines.

So, I don’t want to make you panic, but you definitely shouldn’t ignore these symptoms in your cat. Consult your vet even if your kitten seems perfectly fine, since we all know how good they can be at hiding their pain.


[1] Lorente Méndez C, Wagner R: Prevalence of High IgE Levels against Mites, Pollen, Fleas and Mold in Allergic Dogs and Cats. DOI, Retrieved April 18, 2023.

[2] Khor, KH, Chin, MX: Occurrences of heart disease in apparently healthy cats in Klang Valley, Malaysia. J Adv Vet Anim Res. 2020 Sep; 7(3): 501–508, DOI, Retrieved April 18, 2023.

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