Asthma in cats can be caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled allergens and affects as many as 1-5% of cats. Do you think your cat may be having an asthma attack? Our Central Valley Animal Hospital vets share some common symptoms of asthma in cats and how it can be treated.
Cat Asthma Symptoms
How do you know if your cat has asthma? Typically the first signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack are coughing and wheezing. You might also notice that your cat is hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball.
If your cat is experiencing a full-blown asthma attack you will be able to see your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and you may also notice that they are drooling or coughing up mucus. All of this can cause your cat to become very frightened and stressed. If you notice that your cat is having difficulties breathing, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!
Other cat asthma signs include:
- Difficulty breathing, or increased effort to breathe
- Open-mouth breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended forward
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Gurgling sounds from cat's throat
- Increased swallowing
- Overall weakness
Another sign of asthma in cats is rapid breathing during sleep. While resting or sleeping your cat will normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If you notice that your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute call your vet immediately for assistance, or contact your closest animal emergency hospital.
Note: If your cat is snoring or breathing loudly when resting it doesn't necessarily mean that they are having an asthma attack. That said, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for further advice.
Causes of Cat Asthma Attacks
Asthma attacks are often triggered when the cat inhales an allergen, or possibly due to increased stress levels. A few of the most common allergens to trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Household cleaning products
- Some foods
- Cat litter dust
As well as allergins, there are also a number of underlying conditions that could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack such as pneumonia, obesity, parasites, a pre-existing heart condition, or a genetic predisposition.
Cat Asthma Treatments
If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate your cat's airways. These drugs may be prescribed by your vet in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler. In some cases the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication only as treatment for your cat's asthma, however bronchodilators are not generally used on their own since they do not treat the inflammation that causes the asthma attacks.
Prognosis For Cats With Asthma
Asthma in cats is incurable and can be a progressive condition that gets more severe over time. This means that cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.
That said, the condition is manageable with a little extra care from pet parents and medication. By monitoring your cat's respiratory effort, watching for coughing, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your asthmatic cats live a happy life for years to come.
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 think that a change of diet could help your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your vet. Helping your cat maintain a healthy weight while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met is a great way for pet parents to help their cat stay healthy. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your pet, based on your cat's medical history and overall state of health.
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.