Do cats experience asthma? What can you do if your cat is having an asthma attack? How long can cats live with asthma? Our Los Angeles County vets provide some insight and advice on the condition in this post.
Cat Asthma Attack
This disease of the lung's lower airways affects a small number of cats, but it's absolutely true that cats can get asthma. It's widely thought that feline asthma is caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled allergens and that these particles stimulate a cat's immune system.
Coughing and wheezing are often the first symptoms of asthma in cats. If your cat is experiencing an asthma attack, you may also notice your feline companion hunching close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if they are attempting to expel a hairball.
If your kitty is having a particularly serious asthma attack, you'll be able to see your cat's sides moving in and out as they must work harder to breathe. You may even see your cat start to cough up mucus or drool.
Naturally, your cat will likely become very frightened and stressed if they are having such difficulty breathing. This is classified as a veterinary emergency. Contact your vet immediately or call your nearest animal emergency hospital if your cat is having trouble breathing.
Symptoms of Asthma in Cats
There are many signs of asthma in cats to watch for.
- Blue lips and gums
- Rapid breathing
- Increased effort to breathe
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Increased swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Overall weakness
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Gurgling sounds from throat
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended
If your cat breathes rapidly while they sleep, this is another common symptom of asthma. Your cat should normally be taking between 24 and 30 breaths per minute while resting or sleeping. If your feline friend is taking more than 40 breaths per minute, get in touch with your vet immediately for help, or take your pet to the nearest emergency animal clinic for an urgent exam.
That said, snoring or breathing loudly while resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is in the mist of an asthma attack. Nonetheless, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing, it's always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for advice.
Causes of Asthma in Cats
If your cat inhales an allergen, this can lead to an asthma attack. Some of the most common allergens that may trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Some foods
- Dust from cat litter
Beyond allergens, there are also a number of underlying conditions which could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack including pneumonia, increased stress, obesity, parasites, a genetic predisposition, or a pre-existing heart condition.
Cat Asthma Treatment
If your cat is experiencing asthma symptoms it is important to see your vet for an accurate diagnosis. As mentioned above, there are a number of serious health conditions that could be at the root of your cat's breathing difficulties.
If your kitty is diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in your pet's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate their airways. These medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler fitted with a mask designed for use with cats. In some cases the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment option for asthma in cats.
Life Expectancy for Cats with Asthma
In cats, asthma is considered to be an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.
That said, with the help of appropriate medications and a little extra care from pet parents, asthma in cats is manageable and they can lead normal active lives. By keeping a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, looking out for the symptoms listed above, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your cat to live a happy life for many years.
Diet & Cat Asthma
There is a lot of advice out there as to what you should feed your cat if they suffer from asthma. If you believe that a change of diet could help your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your veterinarian. Helping your cat to maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is certainly a great way for pet parents to help kitty stay healthy. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your cat, based on your pet's medical history, activity level and overall condition.
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.