Asthma is most often an allergic reaction to inhaled allergens in cats and affects between one and five percent of our feline companions. Do you suspect your cat may be having an asthma attack? Our West Chester veterinary team is here to share some of this condition's most common symptoms and the ways in which it can be treated.
Signs & Symptoms of Asthma in Cats
How would you know if your cat is suffering from asthma? Often, the first sign that your cat is having an asthma attack is wheezing and coughing. You may also notice that your cat is hunched forward, close to the ground, and has their neck extended as if they are trying to expel a hairball.
You will see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe and you may also notice them drooling and coughing up mucus if they are having a full-blown asthma attack. 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 vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!
Other signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack include:
- Difficulty breathing, or increased effort to breathe
- Open mouth breathing
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Rapid breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Gurgling sounds from throat
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Increased swallowing
- Overall weakness
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended forward
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 you notice that your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute call your vet immediately for assistance, or contact your closest animal emergency hospital.
It's important to remember that if your cat is breathing loudly or snoring, it doesn't necessarily mean they are experiencing an asthma attack. If you are concerned about breathing, however, it's generally better to err on the said of caution and to contact your vet for advice.
Causes of Asthma Attacks in Cats
What triggers asthma in cats? 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 to trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Some foods
- Cigarette smoke
- Household cleaning products
- Cat litter dust
There are a variety of underlying conditions which could contribute to how severe your cat's asthma attack is, from obesity and pre-existing heart conditions to pneumonia, parasites, or genetic predispositions to the condition.
Treatment for Asthma in Cats
If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, what can you give them to help? Treatments for this condition may include corticosteroids in order to reduce your pet's inflammation in their lungs. You may also help you to dilate your cat's airways with a bronchodilator. Drugs like these may be prescribed by your vet in the form of an oral medication, injection or as an inhaler. In some instances, 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.
What is the life expectancy of a cat with asthma? 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.
Diet & Asthma in Cats
There is lots of advice out there about what you should feed your cat if they are suffering from asthma. If you suspect that a change in your act's diet could help their asthma symptoms, you should always consult your vet first. Helping your cat meet their nutritional needs, while also encouraging a healthy weight, is an excellent way for pet owners to help their cat stay healthy and happy. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your pet, based on your cat's medical history and overall state of health.