Can Cats Get Kennel Cough from Dogs? Risks to Know

The world of pets is a delightful one, filled with love, companionship, and sometimes a few surprises. One common concern among pet owners is the possibility of diseases spreading from one furry friend to another. 

In this article, we will explore the intriguing question: “Can cats get kennel cough from dogs?” We will delve into the details of kennel cough, its causes, symptoms, and most importantly, whether or not cats can contract it from their canine counterparts. 

So, let’s embark on this journey to uncover the truth and understand the precautions you can take to keep your pets safe.

Understanding Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, medically known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It is often characterized by a persistent cough, similar to a hacking or honking sound, and may sometimes be accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge. 

This condition primarily affects dogs and is more common in places where dogs congregate, such as kennels, dog parks, and pet boarding facilities.

The Culprit: Bordetella Bacteria and Viruses

Kennel cough can be caused by a combination of infectious agents, with the primary culprits being the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica and various respiratory viruses. 

These pathogens can be transmitted through the air, making close contact with an infected dog a potential risk factor for transmission.

Can Cats Get Kennel Cough from Dogs?

Now, let’s address the pressing question: Can cats contract kennel cough from dogs? The short answer is yes, it is possible, but the likelihood is relatively low.

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Cats and dogs are different species, and their immune systems are not identical. While it is less common for cats to contract kennel cough from dogs, it is not impossible. Here are a few key factors to consider:

Species Barrier: Cats and dogs have different respiratory systems and immune responses. This difference can make it harder for the kennel cough pathogens to jump from one species to another.

Transmission: Kennel cough is primarily transmitted through close contact, such as shared bowls, bedding, or direct contact with respiratory secretions. Cats and dogs living together and sharing these items are at higher risk of transmission.

Immunity: Cats that have been previously exposed to Bordetella bronchiseptica or have received vaccinations against it are less likely to contract kennel cough from dogs.

Overall Health: Cats with compromised immune systems due to other underlying health conditions may be more susceptible to infections, including kennel cough.

Precautions to Keep Your Pets Safe

While the risk of cats contracting kennel cough from dogs is relatively low, it’s essential to take precautions to protect your pets. Here are some steps you can take:

Vaccination: Ensure that your dogs are up-to-date on their kennel cough vaccinations. This not only protects them but also reduces the risk of them transmitting the infection to other pets.

Separation: If you have both cats and dogs, consider keeping them separated if your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough. This can prevent potential transmission.

Hygiene: Practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly after handling an infected dog and before interacting with your cat. Additionally, regularly clean and disinfect shared items like food bowls and bedding.

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Isolation: If your cat or dog shows symptoms of respiratory illness, consult your veterinarian immediately. They may recommend isolating the sick pet to prevent the spread of infection.


In conclusion, while it is possible for cats to contract kennel cough from dogs, the risk is relatively low. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and transmission of kennel cough is essential for pet owners. 

By taking appropriate precautions, such as vaccination, separation when necessary, and maintaining good hygiene practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of your pets becoming infected. 

Always consult your veterinarian for guidance on protecting the health of your furry companions. In the end, a happy and healthy pet is the best reward for a responsible pet owner.