Cats & Asthma
If your cat begins wheezing often or coughing, there's a chance it could be asthma.
Believe it or not, your cat can also experience asthma. If left untreated it can also cause serious complications just as it would in people. Along with wheezing and coughing, you may also notice that they are hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball. During a particularly serious asthma attack, you will be able to clearly see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat may even begin coughing up mucus or drooling.
Besides the physical effects of asthma, your cat will likely also become quite scared during an asthma attack. If your kitty is experiencing breathing difficulties, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!
Cat Asthma - Symptoms
The following are some of the commonly seen symptoms in cats having an asthma attack. If you spot any of these signs you need to contact your vet straight away, or head to your nearest 24/7 animal emergency hospital.
- Difficulty breathing
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended
- Open-mouth breathing
- Gurgling sounds from the throat
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Overall weakness
- Increased effort to breathe
- Rapid breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Increased swallowing
The best way to determine your cat's breathing rate is to check while they are sleeping. When a cat is resting they should take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute, they could be experiencing an asthma attack. Contact your vet immediately for assistance, or take your pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital for an urgent examination.
That said, although rapid breathing during sleep can be another symptom of asthma in cats, it's important to note that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is having an asthma attack.
If your cat is breathing unusually and you are concerned that they may have asthma or another respiratory condition you should have them examined right away. If needed, your vet may offer a referral to an animal specialty hospital such as ours for respiratory medicine.
Cat Asthma - Causes
Asthma attacks in cats are often triggered by the cat inhaling an allergen. Some of the most common allergens that can lead to asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Household cleaning products
- Some foods
- Cat litter dust
Beyond allergens, there are also a number of underlying conditions that could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack including pneumonia, increased stress, obesity, parasites, a genetic predisposition, or a pre-existing heart condition.
Cat Asthma - Treatment
As soon as your cat begins to show any signs of a respiratory condition you should bring them to see your primary vet or a veterinary internist for respiratory medicine as soon as possible. As mentioned above, there are a number of serious health conditions that could be at the root of your cat's breathing difficulties.
Asthma treatment for cats may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate the airway. These medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler fitted with a mask designed for use with cats. In some cases, the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment for asthma in cats.
How Nutrition Can Help Manage Cat Asthma
Like most conditions, you can find an abundance of information out there on which foods can help treat cat asthma. Unfortunately, the information out there may not always be accurate. If you believe that a change of diet could help your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your veterinarian. Helping your cat to maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is certainly a great way for pet parents to help kitty stay healthy. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your cat, based on your pet's medical history, activity level and overall condition.
Prognosis With Feline Asthma
Cat asthma is generally not curable and will likely remain active throughout their life, which means that cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.
That said, with the help of appropriate medications and a little extra care from pet parents, asthma in cats is manageable. By keeping a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, looking out for the symptoms listed above, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your cat live a happy life for many years.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.