Feline Asthma Management With Corticosteroids

One of the best types of treatments for feline asthma is the use of corticosteroids, such as prednisolone or prednisone, to help reduce inflammation in a cat's lungs. This type of lung disorder should be treated by relieving and preventing airway constriction.

Feline Asthma

Asthma, the narrowing of a cat's airway, can be caused by allergies or inhaled irritants. Parasites, bacteria and viruses can also cause feline asthma.

In mild cases of asthma, a cat's quality of life is usually not affected. She will play, eat and sleep as if nothing is wrong, but will occasionally have coughing fits.

Moderate cases of asthma will cause a cat to feel tired more often or have disturbed sleep because of coughing. It may take more effort for a cat to breathe, cough or catch her breath while coughing.

A cat with a severe case of asthma will have a poor quality of life, because she will always be coughing throughout the day and will not rest well.

Symptoms of Feline Asthma

A cat with asthma will usually cough or show signs of respiratory distress, like wheezing. When a cat is coughing, it may look like she is squatting and sticking her neck way out during these episodes. In an attempt to breathe in more air, she might breathe with her mouth open.

Diagnosing Asthma

When diagnosing feline asthma, a veterinarian will consider how often the symptoms of asthma present themselves and the severity of these symptoms.

An x-ray is sometimes taken to see if any trapped pockets of air that were not exhaled are seen. A cat's diaphragm may also look flat because of over-inflation. Some x-rays will also show mucus or fluid in the lungs, or airways that look like their walls have thickened. An x-ray can also reveal parasites and heart and lung disease.

A veterinarian will draw blood to test, perform a fecal exam and do a urinalysis. These tests can reveal an underlying disease that causes respiratory problems.

Treating Feline Asthma with Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are a type of steroid used to treat feline asthma. The medication comes in the form of corticosteroid injections, pills or metered inhalers that contain the medicine. Depo-Medrol is a popular injection that is administered to cats every 4 to 6 weeks.

When a cat is prescribed a metered inhaler, a special chamber that attaches to the inhaler can be used so the cat can receive the full dose of the medication. The pet owner first attaches the chamber to the inhaler and administers the medicine into the spacer. The cat's mouth and nose are then covered with the spacer's mask and the cat is to breathe 10 to 15 times to receive the full dose of medicine.

Most cats tolerate this medicine well, as there are no systemic corticosteroid side effects. With long-term use, however, hair-loss and increased drinking and urinating have been noted. In very rare cases, the use of corticosteroid has caused liver damage in cats.

Feline asthma is not uncommon in cats. It is easily treated with the use of corticosteroids and the care of a veterinarian.