Cat Asthma Attacks

Cat asthma, also known as feline bronchial disease, occurs when a cat's airways become restricted and tighten, blocking the air flow. This is caused by allergens such as smoke, pollen, cat litter dust, aerosol sprays or cold weather. Cats with asthma may wheeze, cough, avoid exercise and experience difficulty breathing. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and chronic coughing can be easily mistaken for hairballs. Severe cat asthma can permanently damage the lungs, or even lead to death.

Diagnosis of Cat Asthma

Diagnosing cat asthma is not always easy. Initially, the cat may experience infrequent periods of labored breathing, with long periods of normal activity in between. A dry, hacking sound will produce nothing in early stages, and lead to possible vomiting or expulsion of a mucus-like liquid. During a severe asthma attack, cats may assume the praying position as they attempt to get as much air to the lungs as possible. The abdomen will appear to be working harder than usual, and the cat may even breathe with its mouth open. Symptoms of cat asthma may be very similar to other diseases, such as heartworms, so testing should be administered for proper diagnosis. A chest radiograph may help to discover constricted airways, inflated lungs and a flattened diaphragm. These are all signs of asthma in the cat.

Treatment of Cat Asthma

Treatment of cat asthma can be handled in one of several ways. Corticosteroid medications are administered for reduction of inflammation, the culprit of constricted airways. These can be given in pill form, injection or via an inhaler. If the cat takes pills willingly and the asthma responds well to them, this may be the choice method for long-term management of this disease. Keep in mind that corticosteroid medicine has potential side effects, but cats may be resistant to most of them. Injection of medication may be more suitable for certain cats, but side effects such as diabetes have more potential to develop with this type of administration. If your cat is displaying symptoms that require an injection more frequently than once every other month, an inhaler may be an even better option.

Prevention of Symptoms

In order to prevent symptoms or lessen the impact of your cat's asthma, there are a few simple changes to make that may be quite beneficial.

  • Keep heating and air conditioner vents clean, and replace filters regularly.
  • Limit cigarette or fireplace smoke inside your home.
  • The use of certain candles or other scented household products, such as laundry soap, may cause asthma symptoms.
  • Use cat litter that doesn't produce dust.
  • Avoid aerosol cans and other sprays around the cat.
  • Consider controlling fleas and other pests with medication that doesn't require topical administration, or research natural remedies that may be suitable for your cat.
  • Indoor plants can collect pollen, or release mold spores from the potting soil.
  • Use of a vacuum with a HEPA filter can help cut down on dust mites, and laundering curtains and bedding often will help as well.
  • Certain types of food, stress and some vaccines may also lead to cat asthma symptoms.