You heard little furbaby coughing and then she expelled that thick icky thing – mucus! Questions may run full speed through your mind. What is this thing? Where did it come from? Should I be worried? Let us try to walk through this together to understand it.
Mucus is this clear, thick “slime” composed of the secretions from some cells lining the respiratory tract, and it also has some white blood cells. The body needs mucus because it has important functions: (1) mucus acts as a lubricant to keep the airways from drying up, and (2) being sticky, mucus traps bacteria and small debris which may have been inhaled and keep them from reaching the lungs.
When there is something irritating the airways, more mucus than usual is produced. This irritation may come from a variety of causes: direct infection with viruses or bacteria; presence of fungi, parasites, foreign particles, toxic substances, allergens. Tumors in the respiratory tract may also cause increased secretion of mucus. When excessive mucus builds up it may clog the airways and your cat will cough to try to remove the mucus. If the irritation persists and even more mucus is produced, poor furbaby may end up having difficulty breathing.
It is worthy to note also that normal mucus is clear and transparent in appearance. As the irritation of the respiratory tract progresses, the mucus may change in color (yellow, green, brown) which may suggest the presence of secondary bacterial infections. It may also become thicker and more sticky which may indicate that the animal is dehydrated. This makes the mucus more difficult to expel from the airways.
Certainly, when your cat coughs up mucus, you will need to seek prompt veterinary consult for furbaby because what could have started as a simple upper respiratory irritation may progress into a life-threatening condition involving the lungs when left unchecked.
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