While asthma is a fairly uncommon condition only affecting a small percentage of cats, did you know that it is typically an allergic reaction to inhaled allergens? Our Pittsboro internal medicine vets discuss the signs and symptoms of feline asthma as well as everything else that you may need to know about this condition.
Signs & Symptoms of Feline Asthma
If your cat has asthma then the first symptoms that you may notice are coughing or wheezing. If your cat is experiencing feline asthma then they may also appear as though they are hunched over or coughing up a hairball.
If your cat is experiencing a full-blown asthma attack you will be able to see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe as well as drooling or potentially coughing up mucus. All of this can cause your cat to become very frightened and stressed. If you notice that your cat is having difficulties breathing, contact your internal medicine vet immediately for assistance or contact the nearest emergency or urgent veterinary clinic.
Other signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack include:
- Difficulty breathing, or increased effort to breathe
- Open mouth breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended forward
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Gurgling sounds from throat
- Increased swallowing
- Overall weakness
Another sign of asthma in cats is rapid breathing during sleep. While resting or sleeping your cat will normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths a minute then you should contact your internal medicine vet immediately or bring your cat to an emergency vet clinic.
Note: If your cat is snoring or breathing loudly when resting it doesn't necessarily mean that they are having an asthma attack. That said, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to err on the side of caution and contact your internal medicine vet for further advice.
Causes of Feline Asthma Attacks
There are many potential causes of feline asthma. Asthma attacks are frequently brought on by the cat inhaling an allergen, or possibly due to increased stress levels. A few of the most common allergens can potentially trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Household cleaning products
- Some foods
- Cat litter dust
There are also a number of underlying conditions could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack including pneumonia, obesity, parasites, a pre-existing heart condition, or a genetic predisposition.
Treatment for Feline Asthma
There are a few different treatment options that your internal medicine vet may recommend if your cat is suffering from feline asthma. If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate your cat's airways. These drugs may be prescribed by your vet in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler. In some cases the internal medicine vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication only as treatment for your cat's asthma, however bronchodilators are not generally used on their own since they do not treat the inflammation that causes the asthma attacks.
Prognosis For Cats Experiencing Feline Asthma
If your cat has feline asthma then you may be wondering what their quality of life and life span may be. Asthma in cats is an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.
Nonetheless, the condition is manageable with a little extra care from pet parents and medication. By monitoring your cat's respiratory effort, watching for coughing, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your asthmatic cats live a happy life for years to come.
How your Cat's Diet Can Affect Feline Asthma
If you have a cat with feline asthma then there will be many lifestyle changes that you may have to make, you may wonder if you should also alter their diet. There is a lot of advice out there as to what you should feed your cat if they suffer from asthma. If you think that a change of diet could help your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your internal medicine vet. Helping your cat maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is a great way for pet parents to help their cat stay healthy. Your internal medicine vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your pet, based on your cat's medical history and overall state of health.