Cat Coughs After Drinking Water: Why and Should I Worry?

Cats need to hydrate as often as possible. But why do cat cough after drinking water? As this might be a worrying issue to most cat owners, usually, it’s nothing to worry about. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the various explanations for why a cat coughs after drinking water. We’ll also explore the potential causes and provide insights on how to address this issue.

Table of Contents

Why Does My Cat Cough up After Drinking Water?

There are many reasons why a cat would cough after drinking water. Some might be medically related, while others are not. It is important to know and understand all your cat’s behavior. 

Here are some of the most common reasons:

Drinking water too fast or in excess.

The most common reason your cat would cough after drinking water is when it hastily drinks water. When this happens, water may accidentally go down your cat’s windpipe rather than the esophagus choking it. So, to protect themselves, cats will cough to remove the water from their lungs.

Presence of External Objects in Water

Check for foreign objects in the water bowl if your cat coughs up after drinking water. Doing this will help you know what object your cat might have swallowed. Then, you will know which method of treatment to offer. 

For instance, if your cat has swallowed a non-toxic item, encourage your cat to cough. Coughing will help remove the swallowed object before it causes more damage if it reaches the intestines. Otherwise, immediately seek medical attention.

(a cat drinking tap water)

The too-cold temperature of the water

It is advisable to provide your cat with water at room temperature. Ice-cold water cats will eventually cause coughing.

The stomach could be full or empty.

Usually, cats don’t know whether they are full or hungry. They will always eat. So, when a cat drinks water when it is full, its stomach may reject it. As a result, your cat will cough it out. A similar situation may occur when your cat is hungry and drinks water.

The existing barriers in the throat

We often forget that something can get stuck in a cat’s throat. For example, hairballs are common barriers in cats. Such barriers will not allow anything in the cat’s body. So, your cat will repel any water that reaches the barrier and fails to go down the throat. The repulsion of water will result in choking, then coughing.

cats drinking from a water puddle

(cats drinking from a water puddle)

Other Prominent Factors to consider if a cat coughs after drinking water

Your Cat’s Collar is Too Tight

When your cat’s collar is too tight, it will probably press on the throat. As a result, this pressure interferes with the water passage, and the cat instinctively chokes and then coughs.

The Water Tastes Bad

Cats are sensitive animals with a very strong sense of taste. Therefore, cats can easily tell whether the water they drink isn’t pure or has a different taste. For example, When a cat drinks water containing chlorine, it will cough after drinking. Especially so if it normally doesn’t drink chlorine water.

a cat drinking water from the stream

(a cat drinking water from the stream)

Should I Worry that my Cat Coughs After Drinking Water?

No. Your cat coughing after drinking water should not be a cause of worry for you. Most times, it just drinks too much water and splatters some back. 

However, be sure to check if there are other symptoms accompanying this behavior. These symptoms will likely state if there are more reasons for the coughing.

Always ask the vet if your cat has suddenly begun to cough after drinking water. Or if your cat often coughs after drinking water. The latter might be from your cat having a bad water-drinking habit. But, the vet must rule out any underlying medical condition for safety.

a thirsty cat

(a thirsty cat)

Tips and Suggestions for Drinking Water for Cats

To ensure your cat drinks water without issues, you should:

  • Use a non-allergenic bowl for drinking
  • Serve your cat with filtered water instead of tap water
  • Make sure the water is at room temperature
  • Keep the cat’s collar loose 
  • Avoid feeding your salty cat foods
a cat drinking water from a plate

(a cat drinking water from a plate)


As a cat owner, you need to know why your cat is coughing after drinking water. Doing this will help you understand the next action to take.