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Does My Cat Have Asthma? What You Should Know About Feline Asthma

Updated on September 19, 2018

Does Your Cat Have Asthma?

Signs Your Cat May Have Feline Asthma

Cats with asthma are more common than you might think. Feline Asthma is a chronic lung disease involving your cat's lower airway, including bronchi and bronchi-oles. It is commonly mistaken that the disease is hairballs. Cats with feline asthma may have an acute episode of difficulty breathing, oftentimes mimicking a hairball episode. These attacks can be life-threatening for your cat. Your cat could also have a nonproductive chronic cough, which is left untreated can shorten life of your cat significantly.

The most common name is known to be asthma, the scientific name goes by Feline Bronchial Disease Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Cats of any age are susceptible to feline asthma. Rarely does your cat show signs of feline asthma. They may exhibit a normal temperature and will continue to eat as they normally do. However the most significant sign is that your cat may have fits of deep, moist-sounding coughing.

For the best results, a physical exam and x-rays can further diagnose if your cat has been affected by feline asthma. Blood tests are the quickest and easiest way, and will detect infection, which in many cases accompanies asthmatic bronchitis. The veterinarian can also detect macrophages, eosinophils, neutrophils, and mast cells, which are types of blood cells that help constitute your cat's immune system. And blood work is also very useful and essential in eliminating other diseases with the same symptoms.

Asthma is thought to be an allergic or immune-mediated reaction in the airways caused by inhaled irritants. The airways become thickened, and there is an increase in mucus production, which makes it more difficult for your cat to breathe properly. Although a specific cause cannot always be found, many asthmatic cats also live in a household with people who smoke.

Getting A Diagnosis

About one percent of cats develop feline asthma, but the condition is quickly becoming more common because of an increase of exposure to environmental pollutants. Sadly, the Siamese cat population ranges up to about 5 percent.

Side Effects And Symptoms

Chronic coughing, acute onset of difficulty breathing, open-mouth breathing, and exercise intolerance can be symptoms. Some other symptoms to watch for may include wheezing, gagging, lethargy, lips & gums that are bluish, and an elevated respiratory rate.

Some causes are inhaled irritants and allergens such as cigarette smoke, dust, perfume, mold, mildew, dust, dust mites, food,stress, candles and many household products. Areas most affected are your cat's lungs, and lower airway. It is extremely important to reduce inhaled irritants in your cats home. A household with heavy smokers may want to take extra cautions if you have a severely asthmatic cats. This could cause serious discomfort and asthmatic attacks for your cat.

Cats having a severe asthma attack will be in the praying position trying to recover the air they need to breath, these breaths will be deep and labored and come from the abdomen. It is not unusual for vomiting to occur during this attack.

Only a complete and through physical examination with chest x-rays will diagnose if your cat has been affected by feline asthma. Again, blood tests are the quickest and easiest way to detect feline asthma.

Things To Watch Out For

  • If you suspect your cat may have feline asthma It's a good idea to use plain, natural, unscented kitty litter and to stay away from deodorizers you add to the litter box. Some people use recycled newspaper or organic litter in the the cat box instead. There are several organic brands out on the market to use in place of your regular top brand kitty litters.
  • If you are using cleaning products, dusting, or sweeping in the presence of your cat, it might be a good idea to put your cat in a separate room until you're done, to avoid the cat from inhaling the chemicals and particles.
  • Your cat should be removed from any home with construction or painting until the project is completed. Incense, scented candles and perfumes should be kept to a minimum, as this could trigger an episode for your cat if it is sensitive to smells or any type of fragrance.

If your cat has been diagnosed with feline asthma, unfortunately there is no cure. The good news is a veterinarian can discuss a successful treatment plan with you. If your cat is healthy, treatment may start with oral corticosteroids, which will help decrease the inflammation in the airway, making it easier for your cat to breath. If your cat is responding well to the oral steroids, an inhaled steroid, such as fluticasone can be started for long-term management. Inhaled steroids help prevent long-term inflammation and chronic airway changes without the systemic side effects of oral steroids.

Beware Of The Signs...

If your cat is gasping, falling to its side with its mouth open and its tongue appearing bluish, contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately. Your cat may need oxygen and rapid-acting broncho dilator medications to stay alive. Veterinarians suggest owners keep special medications at home in case of the above described emergency.

© 2008 Boo McCourt


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    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      8 years ago from Washington MI

      Carol I am so happy she recovered. Treatments can get expensive, but well worth your pets life in my opinion. My Ethel had slight Asthma, she would lie by the heat vents and get attacks. I tried to keep her in a little bed on the sofa away from the vents, because the dust wasn't good for her either. She passed 4 months ago of kidney failure at 18. Take good care, and love your precious one.

    • Carol Petretti profile image

      Carol Petretti 

      8 years ago from California

      Thank you very much for writing this. My cat does have Asthma, and I'm writing about it on Hub pages. I find the more I learn about this illness, the better I am at caring for her. Turning on the heater seems to have triggered the most recent attack. Sadly, I didn't even think that it would be a problem, as we had run the air all summer. I'm learning. Thankfully, she recovered.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      8 years ago from Washington MI

      Hi Dawn, Thank you for the great advice dawn, I believe the cats need a clean fresh environment just as us humans do to breath clean fresh air.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      my cat has asthma and i give her 1 predistone every 4 days, I have invested in a really powerful vacumn cleaner and that has made a great difference .W hen i first had her nearly two years ago she was having a tablet every other day.In the winter i use humidifires on the radiators keeping them topped up with water.


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