What is Feline Asthma
Feline Asthma is an obstructive and allergic respiratory disease occurring frequently in cats. It can be described as a narrowing of the airways that lead from the trachea to the lungs.
- What causes asthma?
Certain “triggers” or environmental irritants should be considered such as:
- Cigarette, cigar and candle smoke in the home
- Dusty or strongly perfumed cat litters
- Carpet, cleaning products and air fresheners
- Perfumes and hairsprays
- Parasites – heartworms, lungworms and dust mites
- Infectious agents
- viruses, bacterial infections
- Symptoms of asthma?
- Coughing; may be confused with the cat trying to bring up a hairball or vomiting.
- Rapid breathing.
- Wheezing; loud breathing sounds.
- Asthma attack – sudden breathing distresses, gasping, open mouth breathing. This condition can be life threatening and requires prompt veterinary care.
- How is asthma diagnosed?
Several tests are available to diagnose asthma and can be performed by your vet.
- Thorough physical exam.
- Chest x-rays to check for abnormalities in the lungs.
- Bloodwork to check for elevated white cells (eosinophils) which can indicate an allergic response.
- Stool sample to check for lungworms.
- Heartworm test – not necessary for all cats since heartworms are less likely in some areas of the country.
- Feline leukemia/Feline immunodeficiency virus test – can identify diseases that can affect the cat’s immune system.
- Treatments for asthma
Like human asthma, feline asthma is incurable but can usually be managed depending on the severity of the condition. Some of the most common treatments are:
- Steroid drugs (oral, injectable) to reduce inflammation in the airways.
- Bronchodilators – to open up the airways
These medications should be closely monitored as recommended by your veterinarian.
- Avoiding any factors that may trigger breathing problems such as, eliminating exposure to smoke, using unscented, low dust brands of cat litter, minimize stress.
- Laser therapy can help reduce inflammation in airways.
Cats with asthma can usually live normal lives with proper diagnosing, medication (s) and monitoring.