Cahill has been linked with a move away from Bolton during this transfer window
QPR began life back in the top flight with a heavy loss as Bolton taught them a painful lesson in the unforgiving nature of Premier League football.
The home side fared well in the first period but trailed at half-time after Gary Cahill's superb 25-yard shot.
Bolton excelled in the second half and seized an unbreakable hold on the game through Danny Gabbidon's own goal and Ivan Klasnic's deflected strike.
Fabrice Muamba slotted in a fourth before QPR's Clint Hill was sent off.
We capitulated - Warnock
It was a miserable but fitting ending to the game for the home side, who faded quickly in the second half in the face of a powerful and thoroughly professional away performance from Wanderers.
The Trotters had been asked by their manager Owen Coyle to improve on a positive 2010-11 campaign and made impressive first strides towards delivering on that request.
QPR have also made great steps forward in recent years, but their ascent to the top flight for the first time since 1996 has been somewhat tainted by issues off the pitch regarding the potential sale of the club, a lack of big-money signings and a significant increase in ticket prices, which has left many fans aggrieved.
There were noticeable gaps in the stands at Loftus Road but a sense of optimism prevailed, which was initially prolonged by what was a positive, if somewhat naive, first-half display from their team.
They almost made the perfect start to life back in the Premier League when new signing DJ Campbell flicked the ball into the Bolton net from six yards, but the striker was rightly adjudged to have been offside.
Campbell was to have a reasonably positive debut, suggesting he could repeat last season's feats with Blackpool for his new club, but the same could not be said of fellow summer recruit Kieron Dyer, who was taken off on a stretcher in just the seventh minute after falling awkwardly in a tackle.
The Hoops did not let it affect them, though, and fashioned a number of chances but playmaker Adel Taraabt, who was largely shackled throughout, chipped one wide and Jay Bothroyd saw the best of these headed over by Gretar Steinsson.
In first-half stoppage time, Bolton demonstrated the need to take your chances in the Premier League when Cahill collected the ball 25 yards out and curled an excellent shot into the far corner to give his side the lead.
The second half belonged to Bolton, who extended their advantage when Chris Eagles' free-kick was deflected into his own net by Danny Gabbidon in the 67th minute before sealing their win three minutes later when Klasnic's shot from inside the box was deflected in by Bradley Orr.
With 11 minutes to go Muamba collected from Klasnic and strode through to side-foot in a fourth before Hill completed QPR's horror-show by getting himself sent off for headbutting Bolton's Martin Petrov in the chest in the last minute.
QPR manager Neil Warnock:
"I thought we did well up to a point but it's a cruel league.
"I thought [Bolton striker] Kevin Davies bossed the place. Seven free-kicks and no booking, he's a clever lad. I can't blame the players we just need to learn quickly.
"We should have scored in the first half, but we capitulated in the second."
Bolton manager Owen Coyle:
"I think it's a tremendous result. We knew we had to withstand early pressure. The fans were on a high. I knew the atmosphere would be incredible.
"We defended with our lives early on but then scored a wonderful goal with [Gary] Cahill and took control of the game."
Dismissal The referee sends off Clint Hill for violent conduct.
Clint Hill concedes a free kick for a foul on Martin Petrov.
Akos Buzsaky takes a shot. Zat Knight gets a block in.
Unfair challenge on Mark Davies by Clint Hill results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Gretar Rafn Steinsson.
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Martin Petrov played to the near post, Gary Cahill takes a shot. Save made by Patrick Kenny.
Substitution Robbie Blake comes on in place of Ivan Klasnic.
Effort on goal by Akos Buzsaky from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.
Martin Petrov takes a shot.
Unfair challenge on Heidar Helguson by Gary Cahill results in a free kick. Shaun Derry takes the free kick.
Substitution Darren Pratley joins the action as a substitute, replacing Nigel Reo-Coker.
Substitution Mark Davies on for Chris Eagles.
Assist on the goal came from Ivan Klasnic.
78:21 Goal scored
Goal! - Fabrice Muamba - QPR 0 - 4 Bolton Fabrice Muamba scores a goal from inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. QPR 0-4 Bolton.
Akos Buzsaky has an effort direct from the free kick.
Booking Gary Cahill is booked.
Gary Cahill gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Derry.
Foul by Gretar Rafn Steinsson on Clint Hill, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Clint Hill. Heidar Helguson concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Eagles. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Tommy Smith leaves the field to be replaced by Heidar Helguson.
Substitution Adel Taarabt leaves the field to be replaced by Akos Buzsaky.
The assist for the goal came from Kevin Davies.
69:44 Goal scored
Goal! - Ivan Klasnic - QPR 0 - 3 Bolton Ivan Klasnic grabs a goal from inside the penalty box low into the middle of the goal. QPR 0-3 Bolton.
The ball is delivered by Chris Eagles. Assist by Chris Eagles.
66:51 Goal scored
Goal! - Daniel Gabbidon - QPR 0 - 2 Bolton Daniel Gabbidon puts the ball into his own net from 6 yards. QPR 0-2 Bolton.
Unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Alejandro Faurlin results in a free kick. Chris Eagles takes the free kick.
Martin Petrov takes a shot. Blocked by Gretar Rafn Steinsson.
Unfair challenge on Shaun Derry by Fabrice Muamba results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Patrick Kenny.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Daniel Gabbidon on Kevin Davies. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Chris Eagles.
Shot by Tommy Smith from just outside the area goes over the net.
Corner taken by Martin Petrov, clearance by Daniel Gabbidon. Zat Knight takes a shot. Save by Patrick Kenny.
Unfair challenge on Adel Taarabt by Gary Cahill results in a free kick. Daniel Gabbidon restarts play with the free kick.
Effort from outside the box by Adel Taarabt goes wide right of the target.
Adel Taarabt takes a shot. Blocked by Gary Cahill. Inswinging corner taken by Adel Taarabt from the left by-line.
Fitz Hall challenges Ivan Klasnic unfairly and gives away a free kick. Centre by Martin Petrov, Header from close in by Kevin Davies misses to the left of the target.
Martin Petrov restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Booking for Clint Hill.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Eagles by Clint Hill.
Ivan Klasnic takes a shot. Patrick Kenny makes a save.
The game restarts for the second half.
45:00 +6:38 Half time
Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.
Corner taken right-footed by Adel Taarabt from the left by-line to the near post, Jay Bothroyd has a headed effort at goal from close range which goes wide left of the target.
Chris Eagles provided the assist for the goal.
45:00 +1:24 Goal scored
Goal! - Gary Cahill - QPR 0 - 1 Bolton Gary Cahill fires in a goal from outside the box to the top left corner of the goal. QPR 0-1 Bolton.
Kevin Davies gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrick Kenny. Patrick Kenny takes the free kick.
DJ Campbell is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the indirect free kick.
Martin Petrov takes a shot.
Unfair challenge on Fabrice Muamba by Jay Bothroyd results in a free kick. Martin Petrov crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, save made by Patrick Kenny.
Gretar Rafn Steinsson fouled by Adel Taarabt, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Foul by Chris Eagles on Alejandro Faurlin, free kick awarded. Patrick Kenny takes the free kick.
Adel Taarabt takes a shot. Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a comfortable save.
Kevin Davies is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Patrick Kenny.
Patrick Kenny takes the free kick.
Booking Nigel Reo-Coker booked for unsporting behaviour.
Foul by Nigel Reo-Coker on Adel Taarabt, free kick awarded.
Adel Taarabt has an effort at goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
Nigel Reo-Coker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on DJ Campbell. Patrick Kenny takes the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Jay Bothroyd by Gretar Rafn Steinsson results in a free kick. Strike on goal comes in from Adel Taarabt from the free kick, Fitz Hall gets a block in.
Fabrice Muamba concedes a free kick for a foul on Alejandro Faurlin. Patrick Kenny takes the direct free kick.
Tommy Smith takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Fabrice Muamba on Alejandro Faurlin. Free kick taken by Patrick Kenny.
Martin Petrov has a shot on goal from outside the box which misses left.
Tommy Smith has an effort at goal from outside the area which misses left.
Unfair challenge on Fitz Hall by Kevin Davies results in a free kick. Patrick Kenny restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kevin Davies on Alejandro Faurlin. Patrick Kenny restarts play with the free kick.
Corner taken by Adel Taarabt, save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Jay Bothroyd takes a shot. Gretar Rafn Steinsson gets a block in.
Fitz Hall fouled by Ivan Klasnic, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Patrick Kenny.
Gretar Rafn Steinsson has an effort at goal and missed to the left of the target.
Substitution Bradley Orr is brought on as a substitute for Kieron Dyer.
The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Daniel Gabbidon fouled by Chris Eagles, the ref awards a free kick. Adel Taarabt delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, Gary Cahill makes a clearance.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.