Feline Asthma is an inflammation of the bronchioles (lung passageways,) a respiratory condition that makes breathing difficult for the cat.
An asthmatic attack can range from mild to severe.
In mild cases the cat may suffer bouts of coughing, wheezing and labored breathing that come and go, (can sometimes be mistaken for trying to fetch up a hairball.)
With a severe attack the cat will have extreme respiratory problems (open mouth breathing, short of breath,) that can, in some cases, be life threatening.
If you have any cause to suspect that your cat has asthma, of whatever severity, consult your veterinarian.
Any cat of any age can develop asthma, however it is more commonly found in cats of two to eight years.
Some sources say that female cats are more at risk than males and that Siamese cats may be more susceptible than other breeds.
Overall though, it is estimated that fewer than one percent of cats will develop asthma although this number could be increasing.
There are many things that can trigger a cat's asthma including airborne allergens such as the dust from cat litter, pollens, tobacco smoke, wood smoke, scented candles, incense, mold, aerosol sprays including deodorant, polish, cleaners, hairspray, perfume, flea spray.
Other allergens include, dust mites, moist air, detergents, perfumed soap, shampoo, moth balls, potpourri, paint, carpeting, feather pillows, and many other common household products and items can trigger an attack of feline asthma.
Some cats may suffer asthmatic attacks due to food allergies.
Some foods are higher in natural histamines than others.
A bacterial infection, mycoplasma, and some viruses may also be a contributory factor.
Stress may be a trigger, or increase the severity of an attack of asthma.
Trying to identify and eliminate the trigger of your cat's asthma can be quite a task, and is best left to your veterinarian.
For example, if you suspect that your cat reacts to the dust from the cat litter you are using you will need to find a replacement that not only does not cause a reaction, but also is one that your cat is happy to use.
Likewise with food, your pet may acquire allergic bronchitis from food she has enjoyed all her life, the allergy may have been quietly developing and shows itself suddenly.
Also, the manufacturers of branded cat foods sometimes change ingredients, the brand stays the same but the food may now contain something to which your cat has an allergy.
Finding a replacement food that your cat will eat and does not have ingredients to which your cat is sensitive may not be easy.
Your veterinarian will want to be sure that it is asthma that is the problem as there are several other conditions with similar symptoms.
These include pneumonia, lower and upper respiratory infections, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease,) Bordetella, lung-worms and Feline Heartworm.
Your vet will want to -
- Perform blood tests, listen to your cat's chest and breathing, x ray your cat's chest to look for abnormalities such as bronchial inflammation, flattened diaphragm and fluid accumulation. She or he may also want to perform a Bronchoalveolar Lavage.
Feline asthma is not curable at the present time, however modern treatments allow many cats to lead normal lives.
The treatment prescribed will be dependent on the severity of your cat's asthmatic condition.
Bronchodilators may be used in moderate cases and combined with glucocorticosteroids where the condition is more severe.
The usual form of administering medication for a cat with asthma has been intravenously (injection) or orally (pills.)
However the drugs used may induce side effects and to combat this a form of administration has been developed where the drug is inhaled through a mask and therefor goes directly to the lungs inducing less side effects.
Cat Arthritis : A cat with painful joints.
Although there is not a cure for cat arthritis much can be done to diminish pain, slow the progression of the condition and help a cat with arthritis live a more comfortable life.
Always follow the advice of your veterinarian.