While we may not think about asthma when it comes to our feline friends, approximately 1-5% of cats suffer from the condition. Today, our Vienna vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of asthma in cats.
Asthma in Cats
You may be wondering how you will know if your cat has asthma. Typically the earliest signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack are coughing and wheezing. Another common sign that you may notice is that your cat is hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball.
If your cat is experiencing a full-blown asthma attack you will likely be able to see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat might be drooling or coughing up mucus. Needless to say, all of this can cause your cat to become extremely frightened.
If you notice that your cat is having difficulties breathing, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital for assistance.
Signs of Asthma in Cats
Some other signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack include:
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty breathing, or increased effort to breathe
- Open-mouth breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Overall weakness
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended forward
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Gurgling sounds from the throat
- Increased swallowing
Cats that suffer from asthma may also breathe rapidly when sleeping. While at rest or sleeping, your cat should normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If you notice that your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute contact your vet for assistance, or call your nearest animal emergency hospital.
It's important to note however that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is having an asthma attack. Nonetheless, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to contact your vet for further advice.
Causes of Asthma in Cats
So what exactly triggers an asthma attack in cats? Asthma is most commonly brought on by the cat inhaling an allergen, although it can be caused by increased stress levels. A few of the allergens that can trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Some foods
- Cat litter dust
- Household cleaning products
Pet parents should also be aware that several underlying conditions could contribute to the severity of a cat's asthma attack including a genetic predisposition, a pre-existing heart condition, pneumonia, obesity, or even parasites.
Treating Asthma in Cats
Is there something I can give my cat for their asthma? Once your vet diagnoses your cat with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate your cat's airways and allow them to breathe easier. Both of these drugs can be prescribed by your vet in the form of an injectable, oral medication, or inhaler.
Depending on the overall health of your cat, the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment for your cat's asthma, however, bronchodilators are not typically used on their own since they do not treat the inflammation that causes the asthma attacks.
The Prognosis for Cats With Asthma
What is the life expectancy of a cat with asthma? Asthma in cats is an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that if your cat has asthma they are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.
That said, asthma is manageable in cats with a little extra care from pet parents and appropriate medications. By monitoring your cat's respiratory effort, watching for coughing, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your asthmatic cat live happily for years.
Diet for Cats With Asthma
What should you feed your cat with asthma? If you think that the food you are currently feeding your cat is causing or worsening your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your vet. Since obesity may increase your cat's risk of having an asthma attack, feeding your cat quality, vet-recommended food, and helping your cat maintain a healthy weight could help to lessen your cat's asthma symptoms or the severity of their asthma attacks.
Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your pet and even calculate the appropriate number of calories that you should be feeding your cat each day.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.