Symptoms of Bronchitis in Cats

Symptoms of bronchitis can occur in cats who suffer from chronic bronchitis, an inflammation of the breathing passages that lead from the windpipe to the lungs. Vets don't have a complete understanding of what causes this respiratory condition in cats; many causes occur without an obvious cause. Sometimes, it occurs as the result of infection, but often, the exact cause is not known. Here's what you should know about diagnosing and treating chronic bronchitis in cats

Risk Factors for Feline Bronchitis

Feline bronchitis is not terribly common, but it can occur in cats of all breeds. Cats younger than one year of age are most likely to suffer from bronchitis as a result of infection. Older cats may suffer from bronchitis as a result of serious illnesses, like lung cancer. Some cats may suffer from bronchitis for no apparent reason at all.

Male cats are just as likely as female cats to suffer from symptoms of bronchitis. Obesity appears to raise the risk of developing feline bronchitis.

Symptoms of Feline Bronchitis

Symptoms of bronchitis in cats include:

  • gagging
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • rapid breathing

Your cat may experience anorexia and depression, and, if infection is present, he may run a fever. Symptoms of bronchitis in cats often get worse with exertion. In severe cases, the gums and tongue may appear bluish in color and the cat may faint after experiencing a coughing spell.

Bronchitis symptoms in cats may appear to worsen or improve at different times of the day. 

Diagnosing Chronic Bronchitis in Cats

Your vet will need a complete medical history and thorough physical exam in order to make a diagnosis of feline bronchitis. Your vet will listen carefully to your cat's heart and lungs to see how well they are functioning. In cats with bronchitis, the heart often functions normally, while the lungs function abnormally.

Your vet may need to perform a range of diagnostic tests to diagnose bronchitis and determine its cause. Chest X-rays, cytology cultures, and airway examinations are typically used. Your vet may also perform an EKG, a complete blood count, or an arterial blood gas test.

Treating Bronchitis in Cats

While bronchitis can be hard to cure, it is a serious condition that can worsen with time. Your vet will use diagnostic findings to determine the best course of treatment for your cat's symptoms. Antibiotics can help prevent or treat infection in the lungs, and corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation. Supportive respiratory care, such as bronchodilators or cough medications, may be in order.

You can help manage your cat's condition by limiting his exercise. Don't allow him to experience shortness of breath or other symptoms due to exertion. Keep his weight in control. Replace your cat's collar with a harness, since collars can hinder your cat's breathing.

Help your cat breathe easier at home by keeping the air as clean as possible. Humidifying the air with a vaporizer or humidifier can help relieve bronchitis symptoms.