My cat has asthma

I've written about my cat CT in 2 other hubs, Life with Cats, and Getting to know a stray Cat's true personality. I think this Hub is going to end up more like a blog, as I will add to it as we deal with CT illness.

In August of 2011, our sweet little stray kitty did something that scared me to death.

I had left CT happily sitting in the dining room, and went in to our home office. About 10 minutes later I left the office to get a drink of water. CT was laying on her side, tongue out, breathing heavy. Cats don't pant. I know this. She was in the same place I left her, but now she was, obviously, severely distressed. I touched her, petted her, no reaction. I called our Vet. She said bring her in. One look at her and the Doctor said we need a X-ray. Her lungs looked like snow.Our Vet told me that if a Radiologist had seen the X-ray, she would say Lung Cancer and recommend CT be put to sleep, but my Vet felt there might be something else wrong, and wanted to try a treatment first for Asthma and see if she would respond. I said yes right away. I did not want to call my husband at work and tell him I was having his Kitty put to sleep for cancer when he had left for work that morning she had been happily playing with her favorite ball. It kinda looks like a tribble for all you Star Trek fans. Thirty minutes later, our Vet returned. CT was doing much better. The Vet had given her 1/2 a cortisone shot and oxygen. CT was doing so well she had begun rubbing on the face mask. When I went in to see her she was bright eye and moving around. I picked her up and she started to purr. Acted like this was no big deal.

Our Vet wanted me to research a few websites for pet inhalers. She did not want to put CT on steroids. CT already has a problem with her Kidneys, they are getting better, but steroids are notoriously hard on the kidneys. We agreed it would be a race between what would kill her first, the Asthma or her kidneys if she went on Steroid pills. The inhalers have less side effects than the pills. So she gave me a website to look at, WWW.Fritzthebrave.com. This website provided information regarding symptoms, and treatment plus how to use the special inhaler. The most interesting bit of information, I thought, is 1 in a 100 cats have Asthma. Most people think it is hair balls. Dang. I've had a lot of Cats that might have had Asthma and not hairballs. Who knew?

Our Vet sent her home with Antibiotics and pills for Bronchitis. CT spent the rest of the afternoon, sticking close to me, and spent the night on our bed. She only does this when she has had a very bad scare. I think a severe asthma attack qualified, don't you? Poor kitty.

I ordered the special inhaler from Aerokat. CT will go on two medications for her asthma. One will be daily, the other is for emergency.

Three weeks from the first attack, we are still waiting for the special inhaler, and CT has finished all her medication from our Vet. Saturday night we have our second scare.

CT loves ice cream. She is pretty much a guarantee to show up for her share. Saturday night she didn't. This is so unusual for her not to come for ice cream, we went looking for her. She was under the bed in severe distress. We don't know how long she was suffering. CT is one of the quietest cats we have ever had. Our other two cats sound like a herd of elephants next to her. So off to the Emergency Vet we go at 9:30 pm. OMG. It was a small fortune, but what can we say? She can't breath, and she isn't going to get better on her own. Four hours in an Oxygen cage, plus two shots and an inhaler. She did not respond as quickly as she did the previous time. We think because we took longer to realize she was in trouble. Poor poor kitty. We had to leave her about Midnight as they wanted to keep her till her blood oxygen was 100%. When we left it was only 76%. Not good enough. The EV called us at 4 am. She was ready to go home. We get up, get dress and go fetch her, come home, put her on our bed to keep watch, and went back to bed. Little brat acts like nothing has happen. She plays with her toys, her very favorite is a red pipe cleaner, eats and sleeps, like she is a normal healthy cat. Which is what she mostly is accept for the asthma.

The EV doctor wanted us to have our regular Vet test her for Heart-worms and Lung-worms. Yep. Cats get heart-worms. Bad news is there isn't a treatment program for Cats like there is for Dogs. The Dog treatment will kill the Cat. The EV doctor wants her tested as both types of worms also respond to Asthma treatments. Good news is we had her tested for both, Lung-worm test is also not cheap, and she is fine. Yippee. At least two illness we can cross off our list of things she doesn't have.

We are now trying to figure out what is the trigger. First up is leaf blowers. The first attack came when the neighbors Gardener was here doing their thing with the blowers. So the following week when they came, I closed all the doors and windows. She was fine.

Second attack, we haven't a clue, but we are beginning to suspect the cat litter. Gary had just changed it. We have always used Johnny Cat. We did try another litter a few years ago, but one of our other cats had such a severe allergic reaction to it, her paws had open sores, that we changed back and never tried again. The Johnny Cat, doesn't have a lot of chemicals, but it does create a lot of dust, and CT is a very energetic digger. So off to Petsmart to check out different litters that don't make as much dust. Her Vet recommend a crystal litter. I found a litter at Petsmart that says it is for Respiratory Relief. It is call Precious Cat. I like the name. We successfully transitioned from the Johnny Cat to the Precious Cat. The Precious Cat had directions on how to make the change by doing a 1/2 and 1/2 mixture. So far so good. All three cats seem to be ok with the change. The new litter is also not cheep, at least when we compare it to Johnny Cat, but if it keeps CT out of the EV office, it will be well worth it.

The Aerokat has now arrived. This is a special mask designed for Cats to be used with the inhaler. We have given CT 4 treatments so far. She isn't thrilled with the mask, but she isn't growling, hissing, or really fighting us. She very much likes the Tuna reward before and after treatment.

CT loves people Tuna. Surprised me a lot. She has been in the house for 5 months. I opened a can of Tuna for the first time about a month ago. Guess who showed up and begged? I mean begged. All out dancing on the back feet, waving paws in the air, chirping and purring. How is somebody supposed to resit that? She was very successful in getting her Tuna. But at least we know what to bribe her with to get her to accept her medication.

We've also noticed that her breathing is easier. CT's normal breathing is hard. Like she is forcing air out all the time. Now after 4 treatments, we noticed her breathing is much softer, more normal.

After the second attack we went away for the weekend for my Husband's birthday. To say I was nervous about leaving our girl home is an understatement, but I don't think she would enjoy going with us either. My best friend, who lives 5 minutes away, has always been our Kitty sitter. She has learned how to give CT her medication. My husband's brother has also learned. So both of them will be watching over her. I'm still nervous, but I'm sure our Kitty sitters will take good care of her.

Back from our little trip. CT did great. My friend complained that she and CT played hide-n-seek for about 20 min. before CT would let her give her the medication. I explained that CT likes to play hide-n-seek, just because. Not necessarily because it was time for medication.

CT is accepting the medication much more easily now. She's not coming on her own for it, yet, but she isn't running away either. For the first time she hung around and purred after getting her puffs. I think this is a big improvement. CT seems to know this is good for her, or maybe it is just the Tuna addiction.

Three weeks after CT ended up at the Pet Emergency Office. She is doing great. She loves her Tuna so much that she will jump on to the sofa and settle in beside me to receive her Tuna, and medication. She is such an amazing Kitty. We give her the Tuna, very small amounts, before and after. I've even used the Tuna to get her out from under the bed.

I don't like her under the bed. How am I supposed to check her breathing if I can't see her? So if she sleeps to long under the bed, I use the Tuna to get her to relocate. Works every time.

Only draw back with the Tuna treat is if she hears the refrigerator door open and close to many times, she shows up hopeful that one of the times the door is open, the Tuna container comes out too. Sometimes it does, and I share it with our other 2 cats as well. She's ok with the other two eating her Tuna.

CT latest changes are 1. Following us around the house and laying down in what ever room we are in, this is surprising us, we had no idea she was such a companion cat. 2. Trying to get her adopted sister Tymm to play with her, another surprise, Tymm and CT used to be enemies when CT was outside, now they hang around together all the time, and CT is working hard to get Tymm to play soccer with her. One of these days I think she will succeed. 3. Getting my husband to give her ice cream even on the nights he isn't having any. She has given up getting me to give her ice cream as I only eat chocolate, (chocolate isn't safe for Cats or Dogs) but my husband eats Vanilla. She loves Vanilla. He is spoiling her by getting her a 1/2 teaspoon to eat just for her. Sometimes I get it for her. I always feel bad that I end up giving her medication all the time, she seems to forgive me, but I think I should give her the extra treat once in a while anyway.

We do find we spoil her more. In the last 5 months we think she has used up 3 of her 9 lives. We would like her to not use up any more. The good news is she is now back to her correct weight of 10 lbs, 6 ounces. She was down to 7 1/2 pounds when she first became ill 5 months ago.

CT had her 3rd major attack. It has been 8 weeks since the last attack. I think it was turning on the heat. All that extra dust, you know? We noticed Thursday night she had a sneezing attack, but seemed to be fine. Yesterday morning my Husband said she was coughing but she was fine for me. By noon, she was in distress. Not as severe as her two previous attacks, but she did fail to look at me, and would not eat the Tuna I had brought her. Very bad sign. I gave her the special emergency inhaler that is supposed to open her lungs, followed by her regular one. No change.

I called our Vet. Our regular Vet had just gone to lunch but her partner was still there. He said he would wait. Bring her now. I did. He gave her a shot and a pill, and kept her for 4 hours. I thought I was overreacting, to bring her in, but he said no, I had done the right thing. I did not handle leaving her there well. I missed not having her around keeping me company.

When I picked her up, once again she acted like this was no big deal. Little liar. Our regular Vet also told me that I had made the correct decision to bring her in, and would send me home with pills to give her when we notice a change in her behavior. I have to give her 1/2 a pill when we notice little things like coughing and sneezing. Yes, I know Cats cough and sneeze normally, and I mention this to my Vet. She agreed but as CT has Asthma, we can't take chances with it escalating. I also needed to give her the Flo-vent that night at the regular time. Good thing I asked, I would have skipped it as she already had so much medication in her.

Two of the Techs at the Vet's told me how nice a kitty she is. They all ate lunch with her, to keep a eye on her. They told me how sweet she was to them. Yep, that's our CT.

Today CT is fine. She rubbed against her brother, ate breakfast, raced me to the sofa for her Tuna and medication, and is playing with her toys. Amazing.

It has been several weeks since my last entry. CT has been given 1/2 a pill twice now for coughing. This first time was a week after her third attack, the second time was last week. Thankfully both times she didn't developed a full attack. This is good.

CT has also started talking, and comes when called. The cutest thing she does is after breakfast and my husband leaves for work, she jumps on the sofa and waits expectantly for her Tuna and medication, than lays down beside me to help me read the paper. Very cute. Her new favorite toy is newspaper made into a ball. She picks it up and carries it around than throws it and chases after it. Very funny to watch.

It's been several weeks since CT had her last attack, knock on wood. Today we went to the Vet to have her claws trimmed. As CT is now an indoor only kitty she needs to have her claws trimmed for her. I tried to do it myself, even went to our Vet to get a lesson. CT says no way am I going to trim her claws. First time she has actually said no to something I needed to do for her. As I am not crazy about her using my antique furniture as a scratching post, I took her in. This concerned me. As today is very windy, and visiting the Vet is a bit stressful for her, I worried this would bring on an attack. She seemed fine, until she sneezed. I give her 1/2 a pill, the amount the Vet told me to give her, wrapped in tuna. Little sweetie, ate it right up, and is sleeping peacefully on the sofa. Even let me touch her freshly trimmed paws. We also bought a new scratching post, actually two of them. The first one was carpeted, the twins loved, CT not so much. The second post had rope. CT loves, the twins not so much. I wonder if CT was raised with a rope post, while I know the twins where raised with a carpet post. Anyway, all the cats are using the posts, and NOT my antique, freshly reupholstered sofa.

It is now February of 2012. CT's last attack was back in October. I think I am getting pretty good at anticipating when she might get into trouble. I gave her 1/2 pill on Christmas day, I was worried about the air quality, no burn day, and the large amount of people coming over for Christmas. To our surprise, CT stayed in the living room, on her pillow, and said Hello to everyone. Totally surprised me. She even demanded I give her the medication and Tuna in front of everyone. She really does know when she is suppose to get her stuff. I still believe it is all about the Tuna, she starts pacing and jumping on and off the sofa until I give it to her. Very demanding. Two days after Christmas, I noticed the little vent on her inhaler barely moved in the morning. As too many people ignored the no burn warning on Christmas, the air quality was worse. I was even having trouble. So another 1/2 of pill for the little one. She was much better that evening. Still no full attack. Yea!!. A week later I again gave her 1/2 pill for the same reason. That was January, that was the last pill I needed to give her. She is doing fine with her inhaler twice a day though I am now counting between 20-25. In the beginning is was a 15 count. She is playing with her toys, I bought a raffia mouse at Petsmart, on sale, that she is destroying, and cleaning up all the food Tex and Tymm, my other two cats, leave behind. Tex and Tymm have also figured out CT's medication schedule and are showing up for a share of the Tuna. CT seems to like the company. She never growls at the twins.

Something else interesting that happen recently. Tex had been the first one to figure out about the Tuna, so he's been pretty chummy with CT. Tymm, Tex's blood sister, is a little cranky. Tex and Tymm where originally feral kittens, Tymm's personality still reflects this a bit. Anyway, my husband and I hear Tymm start making threatening noises towards CT. She does the same to Tex once in a while, she's just cranky in the morning. I swear she needs coffee. CT is sitting by the sofa just staring at her, nothing else, Tex is sitting in the hall watching, My husband and I are behind him wondering how to interfere with out making the situation worst. Tex made the decision first, he went over and sat down next to CT and looked at his sister. He choose sides, only way to describe what he did. Tymm immediately stopped making threatening sounds, and kinda of slink-ed into the hall and than the kitchen. She wasn't interested in two against one. Much less that one of the two was going to be her 22 lbs brother. She's been much better behaved toward CT since than. I think that was the final picking order decision. Interesting huh?

Hi. I know I know, it has been months since I updated CT's status. My computer has been broken, and I needed to get a new one or get this one fixed. This one is now fixed. Dang things.

Anyway CT is doing GREAT. She has not had a full Asthma attack since last October. Knock on wood. She and Tymm spend a lot of time hanging around each other, no cuddling, but I do find them within 1 to 5 feet of each other, even to the point that Tymm will get on my lap when CT is laying next to me and hang out. This does surprise me. Both Tex and Tymm now show up for tuna treats at CT's medication times. Little gluttons. I did have to explain to Tymm that if she didn't let CT on the sofa for her medication, there would be no Tuna. Tymm jumped down with very bad grace, little growling and hissing, but did sit down on the floor and wait for Tuna. I do often think they understand much more than we have been led to believe.

CT developed a bladder infection a few weeks ago. Poor baby. My Vet was not sure if she had a kidney infection, CT has bad kidney's, that became a bladder infection, or a bladder infection that became a kidney infection. Hard to tell even after all the tests. The test showed the CT had a E.coli bladder infection. My Vet said because she is a long haired cat that sometimes the urine gets on the fur and goes back up the urethra, causing an infection. My Vet said it is very important to keep up with her sanitary cuts. I have the cuts done when I have her claws trimmed. I had just had it done 4 weeks before she became ill. So I'm thinking it is not a perfect system. Poor CT had to have two rounds of antibiotics. As she was not interested in her usual food, we offered her Baby food, Chicken, Turkey, Ham, Beef. No tuna. Nothing that required chewing. Licking the Baby food was the best she could do for awhile. I posted a very cute picture of her in her bed leaning over to drink water, at least I think it is cute. I put a bowl of water by her bed because I'm such a worrier and she was running a fever. By the third day of antibiotics she started to eat her regular food, but still needed the baby food. I was giving her the baby food instead of tuna with her medication along with syringes of water and chicken broth. Anything to get liquids in her to help her recover. Towards the end of the antibiotics, 17 days, she was starting to hit my hand to knock away the syringe with the antibiotics and wanted to run away before she had her inhaler. She was very happy when we went back to just the inhaler. I was very happy when the follow up tests where done that the infection was gone, and she was back to her old self.

Oh and that Ice Cream CT loves? She now gets her own plate at Ice cream time. Just a 1/2 teaspoon, that is all hers to eat. She purrs very very loud when she gets her own ice cream.

I have a new sign, "My cat's not spoiled, I'm just well trained".

So this is November 1, 2012, I started this August of 2011, I write this with tears. Our time with sweet CT is coming to an end. CT has been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, and heart disease. We had hope the first X Ray was only showing pneumonia, not cancer, and our Vet treated her that way, warning us that the followup might show otherwise. As CT has asthma her immune system is compromised. This makes her prone to various infections. CT did not respond to the medication as well as we hoped. The follow up X Ray showed the lump still there, confirming cancer. As CT already has asthma and poor Kidneys. My husband and I have decided to not do cancer treatments. We do not feel her health would stand it, or her quality of life. Our Vet agrees. We are making her comfortable. She is eating, only ground cat food, mixed with baby food, meat only, and a little water. I'm calling it her mush. We are feeding her every two to three hours. Sometimes we need to hand feed her to get her started. She seems to be holding her own at the moment, though she has lost weight. The weight lost was what alerted me that something was wrong, and why l brought her in. That and her deciding she didn't want Tuna anymore. Only chicken and turkey. Our Vet says the tumor is taking all the energy causing the weight loss.. My husband is hoping for two more years. Sadly both our Vet and I think more likely Christmas. Though Dr. Fluegge has said this kitty has surprised us more than once rebounding from an illness that looked pretty close to fatal. She is a tough little kitty. So we will wait and see how she does. Right now she is curled up on our new blanket. The little cutie took it over the first day I opened it up. She also still wants her ice cream. We're going to miss this little bit of love.

This will be my last entry regarding CT. CT left us, with the help of her Doctor, on December 14 at 3:05 pm. The tumor had begun to interfere with her breathing to a point that she was becoming very tired and moving herself to the quieter rooms in the house. We made the very painful decision to let her go. Dr. Fluggee agreed we were making the right decision. My poor husband kept hoping she would pass in her sleep. Truthfully I would have liked that too. But it was not ment to be. Dr. Fluggee felt she would live only 1-3 weeks more, that her quality of life would continue to worsen, and we would most likely be back in her office sooner rather than later. Even knowing we made the best choice for her, it still hurts. The last day she was refusing cat food. But she did eat her ice cream and an egg yolk I made just for her. She ate both with joy. I on the other hand went into another room and cried. I had just given our precious girl her last meal.

CT did some Interesting things the last week of her life. These are the ones that stood out. CT loved the sun, most cats do, but she was more obsessive. CT always slept in the dining room in the afternoon, because the sun floods that room, One morning the sun was flooding our living room, I went and picked CT up and put her on the sofa, in my spot, in full sun. First she laid down, and I sat on the other end, she got back up, walked over to me, tapped me with her paw, than went back to her spot. It felt like a thank you. Tex did another interesting thing with her. She stopped sleeping in her favorite chair, she would lay next to it, I think hard surfaces made it easier for her to breath, Tex laid down facing her, stretching his paws out to her, and doing a curling motion at her, like he was inviting her to play, she just looked at him, too sick to play, but Tex stayed with her purring his heart out. We think he was trying to make her feel better. CT had become to sick to purr. I like to think Tex was trying to purr for her. On another day, CT was laying on the sofa next to me, as it was cold I had a throw on me, I covered her too. When she became to warm she moved out from under the throw, put her paw on it, almost to say no more, and than laid down beside it.

It's been a little over a week since CT left us. The Twins, did not take her leaving well, both of their appetites suffered, they are just beginning to eat normal again. Both have searched the house repeatedly looking for her. Tymm has been sleeping in all her favorite spots, I'm not sure if she is claiming them as hers, you know, a this is mine, this is mine, this is mine, behavior, or is she hoping that if she lay's in CT's spot, CT will come to reclaim it. Tex has been laying on CT's scratching mat, than crying around the house, than coming to cuddle with us. Tymm has been cuddling more too. Both still expect her to show up for meals, and stop to look for her. The other interesting thing, is neither is showing up for tuna at what was CT"s medication times. They seem to know, that with CT gone, there isn't any people tuna on a daily bases. Instead they are getting Greenies treats at bedtime.

We picked up CT's favorite mouse and put it with her collar and bits of fur we took from her. We had ordered her medication refill before she passed. Guess we where a bit too optimistic. The medication arrived a week after she left us. Her Doctor has another patient with asthma, we gifted the medication to the other cat, as a Christmas present from CT.

You know, my husband called her Monkey nose? She was the sweetest, most playful, strong willed little kitty we have ever had. She was deeply loved.

We will miss our funny little girl.

CT posing for pictures. She is such a ham.
CT posing for pictures. She is such a ham.
CT drinking water from her bed, when she was sick
CT drinking water from her bed, when she was sick
My favorite picture of CT
My favorite picture of CT

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Comments 4 comments

Holly 2 years ago

I came upon your story after researching cat asthma. Your story of CT was so touching and it made me cry. I've lost my two childhood cats a few years back and there wasn't a worse pain. I'm sorry for your loss but am also amazed at all the things you've done for CT. Most people would sooner discard their cat if the bills racked up than care for it like a part of their family. I just want to say you're amazing and keep loving cats as you do.


Carol Petretti profile image

Carol Petretti 2 years ago from California Author

Holly, Thank you for your kind words. We still miss CT and would do it all again. My husband and I do believe that when we accept responsibility for another life, it is for a lifetime.

I hope your kitty is doing well. Take care.


Pat O'Connor 2 years ago

I found your story while looking for info on cat allergies, as my Maine Coon (MiMi) has been diagnosed with this problem. We feel as you and your husband do about our pets. Our previous cat lived to 19 and the dog was 14. They both had issues later in life and we did our best by them. I feel like I know your precious CT with her sweet ways and disposition through your writing. You were always there for her and she knew she was loved. May you be blessed for your kindness.


Ruth Graham 2 years ago

I read your story and tears came to my eyes. My furbaby "Shiva" has asthma ( just found out last week ). She is taking prednisolone every day until the Aerokat arrives for her to get "puffs ".

God bless you for caring so deeply for your CT and other cats.

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