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My Cat's Asthma Was Actually a Food Intolerance

Updated on August 7, 2014

When our Siamese cat, Sebastian, began having trouble breathing, we, of course, took him to the vet’s. He was hacking and gasping a lot, and she diagnosed him with asthma. To my great surprise, she said he’d need an inhaler!

I tried to imagine our hefty cat shaking the inhaler cartridge with his paw and holding it up to his little furry mouth. Sebastian’s smart, but, I mean not that clever. Besides which, he has no opposable thumbs.

The veterinarian said that a small mask could be put on his face, and the inhaler would then be hooked up to that. When he had trouble breathing, I was to put the mask on him and give him a mist.

Questions flooded my brain: What if we aren’t home and he needs it? Will the focus of my whole life now be about getting my cat to inhale? Will his condition improve with time? Will I need to get a second job to pay for his expensive medicine?

At home, I went online and ordered the mask, sad that my formerly happy-go-lucky kitty couldn’t even jump onto the couch without wheezing. Once the mask arrived, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the whole mask-inhaler process, either.

Weeks went by, but the inhaler didn’t seem to be helping. My cat, in fact, seemed to be getting worse. When he coughed up a little blood, I became extremely concerned. It also made me wonder---what if he didn’t have asthma? What if there was some other reason for his coughing and shortness of breath?

I did some research, and finally put my finger on a possible cause. My cat might be gluten intolerant!

I decided to test the theory out. I trekked to the pet store and bought him a grain-free food from the Wellness Company and immediately started feeding it to my cat. It contains no wheat, soy, corn, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

I noticed an improvement in my cat’s condition right away and in two days Sebastian was better! No wheezing, no coughing, no need for the inhaler. It was fairly miraculous. My cat was running around the house like a Tasmanian devil, extremely excited and happy to be breathing.

After which, I concluded that I was right. For my cat to go from death’s door to zooming around the house in that short a period of time, he had to have either an allergy or an intolerance. As months and years went by, he never needed the inhaler again, never had trouble breathing.

Some cats, obviously, do actually have asthma. But Sebastian’s example shows that the vet isn’t always right, and sometimes a second opinion can save you worry, money, and possibly even your pet.


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    • April P Clemens profile image

      April P Clemens 4 years ago from VT

      So glad to hear that! Best wishes to you and Tux.

    • profile image

      Jeremy 4 years ago

      My cat Tux was diagnosed with asthma about 4 years ago. We've been using a feline aerosol canister on a daily basis and steroid shots every 3 months. Since I started feeding him a grain free diet, he's lost all asthma symptoms. We are very happy!

    • April P Clemens profile image

      April P Clemens 5 years ago from VT

      True, all true! Bad health is good for big business.

      I think that they even add sawdust to some pet foods. I mean, really!?! That's not even FOOD, except for beavers or termites.

      So many ills could be cured, human or animal, with just good food, exercise, and vitamins, as well as less pressure and stress in general.

      Fortunately, like you said, that sort of thinking does seem to be catching on, if slowly.

      Thanks for reading! Have an awesome night! Or, actually, evening, since you're in Hawaii :)

    • profile image

      PWalker281 5 years ago

      Very informative and interesting hub about your cat's food intolerance and asthma symptoms.

      I agree with all those who have commented, particularly that cats are carnivores, i.e., meat eaters, so feed them meat (Duh!) and that traditional, human and animal medicine tends to treat symptoms (thus supporting Big Pharma whose main goal, IMHO, is to enrich its coffers - don't get me started!) instead of looking for causes and keeping people well so they don't need these expensive drugs. Thankfully, more and more physicians and vets are beginning to see the light (okay, off my soap box :-)).

      Voted up, useful, and interesting!

    • April P Clemens profile image

      April P Clemens 5 years ago from VT

      Yes,I think that many people don't even realize what they're feeding their cats.

      I'm vegetarian, but would still never assume my cat didn't mainly need meat. That's what they're built to digest!

      To give them corn meal and other fillers is like putting sugar in a gas tank. The cat, like a car, is just not going to run right.

      It's true that healthy cat foods are more expensive, which is a shame. Still, I'm sure it would save people money on vet bills, if only they realized healthier foods were a worthwhile option.

      As you pointed out, making proactive decisions could save owners a great deal of heartache and worry about their pets.

      Thanks for reading :)

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi April! Welcome to Hub Pages! What a way to start...with this very interesting and informative hub about potential allergic reactions your cat experienced by eating commercial foods. I don't like the fact, at all, that most start with #1 ingredient: Corn/cornmeal..gluten, by products, etc. Now, I know cats do not go into the fields to eat corn! It is filler. Cats are primarily carnivores...and must have taurine in their diet...most commecial foods contain far far too much starchy, glutinous grains. Not necessary. I feel so bad for those kitties whose family cannot afford the better foods...Blue Buffalo is better than most...because these cats llive on mostly grains and fillers...not good. You acted w/great intuition and saved your cat's life..I am amazed that our Veterinarians are not a little more proactive when it comes to educating and lobbying for proper nuitrition for our cats and dogs. Thank you for a great hub! Good for you. UP Awesome, Useful and INteresting.

    • April P Clemens profile image

      April P Clemens 5 years ago from VT

      @ Becky: Thanks! Yup, human or animal, doctors sometimes guess wrongly.

      Western medical practicioners, especially, often neglect to search for a root cause but instead stick a heavily priced band-aid on our ailments.

      My mother has a long history of medical problems, many of which I feel could have been avoided if doctors had just told her to eat better and hadn't given her faulty treatments.

      @ Case1worker:I'm also gluten intolerant :) When my research suggested that my cat was, too, I was a little incredulous.

      I'm thinking that there are more people (people-people, as well as animal-people)who are gluten intolerant than anyone realizes. They probably just don't know that they are.

      @ Dragonrain: Thanks :)It must have been hard to determine what your dog was actually allergic to. You couldn't really just ask him!

      I suppose you can tell by behavior. I always knew when my cat was feeling sick by the look on his face or energy level.

      @ Everyone: Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading!

      ~Best wishes

    • Dragonrain profile image

      Dragonrain 5 years ago

      Great hub! I don't own a cat but I have a dog with food allergies. It took us some time to figure out which foods bothered him and to figure out a diet that would work well for him, but once we did it made a world of difference! I'm so glad you figured out what was wrong with your kitty and found a food that works well for him!

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Hi, I have heard of guten intolerance causing coughs in humans so I am not surprised.

      I think my tabby Bagera is gluten intolerant- since I changed his food he has stopped "sicking" up- the funny thing is that when we visited the vet- she suggested it could be a gluten intolerance, so i told her that i was intolerant to gluten. She then replied that explained it as it was hereditary- Work that one out!

    • Becky Bruce profile image

      Becky Bruce 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Great article! Doctors are so focused on reactive 'cures' that often times the actual causes get ignored, although they are far more simple to fix from a proactive stance. Good job sharing your pet's story on here, hopefully it helps many others look into the cause of their pet's health issues!