Asthma in cats presents itself just like it does in humans.
The condition can range from acute (sudden) to chronic (long term) inflammation of the airways, due to irritation from certain things. This can include allergic reactions or a sudden narrowing of the airways. But how can you tell if your cat is suffering?
We share how to recognise if your cat has feline asthma and how the condition is diagnosed:
Symptoms and causes
Because feline asthma can come on suddenly and fade away or remain obvious for long periods of time, the symptoms can come and go.
The primary symptoms to look out for include coughing, sneezing and difficulty breathing. Cats that appear to be breathing heavily through their mouths may be suffering with asthma and so should be checked by a vet as soon as possible.
Other symptoms include poor appetite, lethargy and in some cases, blue discoloration of skin. If you notice three or more of these symptoms at any one time, it’s definitely a good idea to have your cat checked out by a vet.
The exact cause of asthma and bronchial inflammation is unclear. Allergies can definitely bring on the symptoms of asthma, but doesn’t necessarily mean your cat has the condition.
Things around the house, such as hair sprays, air fresheners and dusty cat litter, can bring on an asthma attack as the chemicals spreading through the air can irritate the airways; causing them to contract and making it difficult for your pet to breathe. Cigarette smoke is also a common cause for asthma in pets, so your cat should be protected from your smoking habit.
Parasitic lung infections like lungworm can also cause some of the symptoms, but this is usually in extreme circumstances.
Diagnosing feline asthma
After discussing your pet’s previously medical history, your vet should conduct a full physical examination of your cat and take some information on your cat’s diet.
Because asthma is so difficult to pin on one particular cause, it can take some time to determine what exactly is causing your pet’s illness. Something as simple as changing an air freshener or a hair product could be what is making your pet sick.
Your vet should also take blood and urine samples to ensure that every possible illness is explored. These tests will also show if your pet is suffering from any parasitic conditions. If no other explanation is found, some pet hospitals can undertake allergy tests to find out what, if anything, your cat could be allergic to.
If your cat is suffering from allergy induced asthma, you may need to change some things about your home environment. This could include removing air fresheners, chemical sprays and cigarette smoke from areas where your cat enjoys to visit. There may also be some dietary requirements if that’s the source of the allergy.
In some cases, steroid treatment and anti-inflammatory drugs may help your pet cope with the illness better. However, asthma can be a lifelong condition with no out and out cure, so you must be prepared to treat the illness for the rest of your pets’ life. While the symptoms can be improved, treatment should never be stopped just because you haven’t seen any signs of the illness.
As always, if you have any concerns or questions, your vet should be on hand to help with any issues your pet may be facing.