Feline Asthma Symptoms

Feline asthma is a bronchial or upper respiratory allergy. When an asthmatic cat inhales the specific allergens he is sensitive to, the airways to and from the lungs start to swell in an autoimmune response, which restricts the cat's breathing. Common allergic triggers for feline asthma are pollen from grass or trees, smoke from a fireplace or cigarettes, dust from the cat litter, or certain types of sprays that humans commonly use, such as hair spray or deodorants. About one percent of adult cats suffer from feline asthma.

Common Asthma Symptoms

If your cat wheezes and coughs whenever he comes into contact with a substance, it could be a sign that the animal suffers from asthma. This coughing has a dry, hacking sound, similar to the sounds cats make when they cough up hairballs. Because of the similarities in the sounds cats produce when they have asthma and when they have a hairball, you must be careful not to mistake a hairball for asthma.

Asthma does not go away, so if your cat does not frequently succumb to coughing and wheezing fits over an extended period of time, it may be some sort of infection or other non-allergenic disease. Severe cases of feline asthma can cause prolonged open-mouth breathing and panting which only result from serious constriction of the respiratory system.

Diagnosing Feline Asthma

It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose feline asthma because the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure and heartworm. In order to conclusively diagnose a cat's condition as asthma, a number of tests need to be administered to eliminate the possibility that the cat suffers from a different condition.

X-ray photography can eliminate the possibility of heart problems, and can sometimes show respiratory inflammation suggestive of a case of asthma, although some asthmatic cats do not show signs of respiratory inflammation on an x-ray photograph. Other tests administered to a cat that is suspected of suffering from asthma in order to rule out other conditions are a complete blood count and a feline heartworm test. Veterinarians can also more conclusively diagnose feline asthma by removing small samples of tissue from the back of the cat's throat and lower airways, then testing them for autoimmune responses to various substances.

Feline Asthma Medication

Feline asthma is a chronic and progressive disease, and there is no permanent cure for it, but there are medications that can significantly alleviate some of the symptoms. The medication is administered in gas form, and the concept behind administration is the same as that of the inhaler for humans. Special masks designed to fit a cat's face are connected to a pump with the medication in it.

To administer this medication, all you have to do is place the mask over the cat's face when it is undergoing an asthma attack, then squeeze the pump to force the medicine into the cat's respiratory system. The attack should then subside within a few minutes.

Asthma is terrifying for anyone who experiences it, including cats. It is important to know the signs and treatment options for this disease, so you can identify asthma if it is present in your cat, and so you can help your cat during asthma attacks.