Commonly Asked Questions / Doctor’s Answers|
Feline Behavior / Cough
My cat was neutered about 3 years ago. I found him when he was about
5-7 months old (according to my vet). For the past month, I noticed
him "humping" a blanket. When I try to stop him by picking him up,
he squeals as if he is in pain. He also has a really bad breath and seems
to be coughing. I thought it could have been due to hairball. But it sounds
like a dry heaving cough. I don’t have a lot of money and I really
can’t afford to visit my vet if this isn’t a serious problem.
I’ d really appreciate any help.
eCureMe’s Advice 1|
As socially unacceptable as it might seem, it is not unusual for a
neutered male to "hump" something in the house. Our male cat has
this nasty habit as well. His favorite blanket sits on the living room couch
for all to see. It is more of a boredom thing than sexual. Ití»s nothing to
Of course, the cough may be something of more interest. It certainly may be
something as simple as hairballs, but more serious disease may look the same.
Feline asthma is common, and may appear as a dry cough or shallow breathing.
This is usually rather easily controlled with steroids, but an x-ray is
required to diagnose it. Also, feline heartworm disease is common in some areas
of the country. My advice; if you can’t go to the vet yet, try some
hairball remedy. If the cough continues or worsens, I would highly recommend
a checkup and x-rays.
eCureMe’s Advice 2
It is not unusual for neutered cats to "hump" objects or other pets in
the household. This is a natural instinct with which they were born. I also had a
neutered male cat that after five years started to like my other, female, cat.
He did this for a few weeks and it never happened again. Your cat probably
likes the feel or smell of that blanket. I would suggest putting it away for
a few weeks to see if this solves the problem. If not, you should not worry
about him having a problem, its just nature rearing its head.
eCureMe’s Advice 3
Cats can be peculiar creatures sometimes. The ’humping’ behavior
you’re describing is likely just that. Unfortunately the behavior has likely
been a learned trait. This is especially likely if he was actually neutered at a
later age than originally estimated. The squealing is likely out of frustration
rather than pain, provided he does not seem painful otherwise. I would not be
too concerned about this issue provided he continues to eat, drink, urinate, and
The cough, however, may be something more serious. A dry, hacking,
non-productive cough can be anything from a hairball, feline asthma,
primary or secondary cardiac disease, feline heartworm disease, to lungworm
disease. Try and note the frequency and severity of the cough. Does your cat
seem to be exercise intolerant? Do the coughing bouts seem to be associated with
stress or visits to the litter box?
The bad breath can be anything from dental disease (especially if he eats canned
food), stomatitis (an inflammatory condition of the mouth that is often caused
by an immune-mediated inflammatory process to the periodontal ligaments of
the teeth), to underlying kidney disease.
Depending on the significance of the cough and bad breath, it sounds like you do
need to see your primary care veterinarian at least for a physical examination
and consultation. An oral exam may be all that’s needed to identify the
cause of bad breath. Your vet can auscult (listen to with a stethoscope) your
cat’s heart and lungs to determine whether thoracic radiographs are
necessary as a diagnostic test to work-up the cough. Blood and urine
work-up may be necessary to rule out kidney disease as a cause of the
bad breath if the oral exam is normal.
As for the ’humping’, try squirting your cat with a squirt gun
whenever he displays this behavior. They will often associate the behavior
with an ill desired stimuli (the squirt gun) and potentially deter the
behavior in the future.
Good luck and remember a thorough physical examination by your vet is priceless
due to our patient’s inability to speak.