While we may not think of asthma when it comes to our feline companions, it affects approximately 1-5 percent of cats. Today, our Fremont veterinarians discuss the signs and symptoms of asthma in cats, as well as the causes and treatments available.
Asthma in Cats
You might be curious as to how you'll know if your cat suffers from asthma. Coughing and wheezing are usually the first signs that your cat is having an asthma attack. Another sign that your cat is trying to expel a hairball is if they are hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward.
You'll probably be able to see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat may be drooling or coughing up mucus if they're having a full-blown asthma attack. Needless to say, all of this can make your cat feel very threatened.
If you notice that your cat is having difficulties breathing, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital for assistance.
Signs & Symptoms of Feline Asthma
Some other signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack include:
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty breathing, or increased effort to breathe
- Open-mouth breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Overall weakness
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended forward
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Gurgling sounds from the throat
- Increased swallowing
Asthmatic cats may also have rapid breathing while sleeping. Your cat should normally take between 24 and 30 breaths per minute while resting or sleeping. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute, contact your veterinarian or the nearest animal emergency hospital for help.
It's important to note, however, that snoring or breathing loudly while sleeping does not always mean your cat is suffering from asthma. However, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing, you should always seek advice from your veterinarian.
Causes of Asthma in Cats
So what exactly triggers an asthma attack in cats? Asthma is most commonly brought on by the cat inhaling an allergen, although it can be caused by increased stress levels. A few of the allergens that can trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Some foods
- Cat litter dust
- Household cleaning products
A genetic predisposition, a pre-existing heart condition, pneumonia, obesity, or even parasites are all underlying conditions that can contribute to the severity of a cat's asthma attack.
Asthma Treatment for Cats
Is there anything I can give my asthmatic cat? When your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation in the lungs, as well as a bronchodilator to help dilate your cat's airways and make breathing easier. Your veterinarian can prescribe either of these drugs as an injectable, oral medication, or inhaler. The vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment for your cat's asthma, depending on his or her overall health; however, bronchodilators are not typically used on their own because they do not treat the inflammation that causes asthma attacks.
The prognosis for Cats with Asthma
How long can a cat with asthma expect to live? Asthma in cats is an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that if your cat has asthma, he or she will likely have flare-ups regularly, ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening.
Asthma in cats, on the other hand, can be managed with a little extra attention from pet parents and the use of appropriate medications. You can help your asthmatic cat live happily for years by monitoring his respiratory effort, keeping an eye out for coughing, and intervening with medication as needed.
What to Feed Cats with Asthma
What should you feed an asthmatic cat? Consult your veterinarian if you believe the food you're feeding your cat is causing or exacerbating your cat's asthma symptoms. Because obesity increases your cat's risk of having an asthma attack, feeding your cat high-quality, vet-recommended food and assisting your cat in maintaining a healthy weight may help to reduce asthma symptoms and the severity of asthma attacks. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best diet for your cat, as well as calculate the number of calories you should feed him each day.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.