Treating Feline Asthma With Inhaled Steroids

Feline asthma is a chronic inflammation of small passageways in the lungs (bronchioles). These passages thicken, and collapse when an asthmatic cat inhales, making it difficult for the cat to breathe. A number of steroid-based inhaled medication are widely prescribed to treat cat asthma.

Aerosol Inhalers

The preferred method for delivering these inhaled medicines is use of an aerosol inhaler, (sometimes also called a puffer), with a metered dose indicator. This device is an aerosol canister, with a fitted face mask designed for cats, which delivers measured doses of medication through the mask. Like similar devices used for human asthma suffers; it is the most efficient delivery system for directing medication to the cat's affected lung tissues. Most cats learn to accept breathing treatments through the face mask quickly.

The AeroKat Feline Inhaler is the most popular such device in use around the world.


Flovent (fluticasone) is the corticosteroid drug most often prescribed. This medicine is administer once or twice daily and works best for cats that show symptoms daily, or have regular full-blown asthma attacks.

Albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil) is a bronchodilator and can be given as needed on a daily basis to assist breathing by opening up constricted lung passages

Your veterinarian may prescribe both steroid and bronchodilator based medications for use together or alternately according to your cat's individual needs. Antihistamines (usually in pill or liquid form) are also prescribed for cats that have allergic reactions to steroid treatment.

Giving Your Cat the Medication

Here are some basic instructions for administering inhaled medication to your cat:

  • Remove cap from the Chamber.
  • Look for foreign objects and make sure all the components are intact.
  • Insert Medication Canister into back of the Chamber and shake for 15 seconds.
  • Apply mask to your cat's face. If your cat is too anxious, speak to your veterinarian.
  • Depress inhaler and hold mask in place for at least 5 breaths (approx. 10 seconds).
  • Wait 5 to 10 seconds before repeating steps 3 to 5 if a second puff is prescribed.

Keep written record track of each puff used or note date to discard according to your prescribed dosage. Never use it for more than the guaranteed number of actuations (puffs) listed on the side. Shaking the canister is vital in order to load the internal mechanism for effective aerosol delivery. The canister must be shaken before each actuation.

Cleaning the Inhaler

Your cat's inhaler must be cleaned to prevent side effects like thrush and dermatitis which have been reported. Here is the cleaning procedure:

  1. Remove the back piece from chamber (where the MDI fits in).
  2. Soak all the parts for 15 min. in lukewarm water with liquid detergent. Agitate gently, do NOT rinse.
  3. Rinse all parts in clean water.
  4. Shake out the excess water. Do not rub dry.
  5. Let air dry in vertical position.
  6. Replace back piece and mask when the unit is completely dry and ready for use.

Clean the Feline Aerosol Chamber as above prior to first use and then weekly or when obviously dirty.


Never give medication made for humans or dogs to your cat. Only formulas and dosages made and prescribed for cats are safe and effective.