What You Need to Know about Having a Cat With Asthma

cats with asthma require special care

Cats with asthma are very similar to humans with asthma. They have a difficult time breathing, and it can be very scary. In fact, it can be outright terrifying. I know for certain that asthma is one of the scariest and most terrifying things in life. I have a four-year-old with asthma. When she has an attack, it’s scary. Hers is not nearly as severe as it could be. In fact, she can go months – years – without an attack and then suddenly have one right in front of us. The good news for us is that hers is so minor we usually see it coming before it full on attacks her and we can prevent it from happening by having her use her aero-chamber. It’s preventative, and we are very grateful to our pediatrician for his very specific help with this.

However, our cats can also suffer from asthma. Our cat is no longer with us, but I know that I would have recognized the symptoms because they are so similar to a human’s and I’ve learned all there is to know about asthma thanks to our sweet girl. Feline asthma is nothing to joke about, either. It’s a serious medical condition that requires medical attention. Defined, it’s the chronic inflammation of the small passageways in the cat’s lungs. Asthma attacks cause these passageways to become very thick and constricted. When this happens, it’s nearly impossible for air to flow through allowing your cat to take a breath. It’s scary, and it’s terrifying and your cat is going to be very confused about this when it occurs. That’s why your job is to learn all you can about having a cat with asthma and what it means for your family.

The Symptoms

When a cat has asthma, he or she may present some or all of these symptoms:

Persistent coughing

Wheezing

Difficulty breathing after exercise or playtime

Weakness

Lethargy

Gagging

Foamy mucous

Blue lips and gums

Something else that your cat might experience is the need to squat with his or her shoulders hunched and its neck extended. This is combined with very heavy breathing, and it typically indicates that your cat is having an asthma attack at that very moment. It’s scary, and it’s not something that you don’t want to notice.

Causes

What causes asthma in cats? It’s almost always impossible to say precisely what happens with your cats to cause asthma. It might be a number of factors or it might be just one or two things. Your cat could have allergic bronchitis, which is a very common cause of asthma in cats. What happens with this medical issue is that your cat’s airways are inflamed as a direct result of the inhalation of something that your cat is allergic to, making it difficult for him or her to breathe.

Additionally, your cat could have some sort of unknown pre-existing medical condition that causes asthma. It could have parasites, it could be obese or your cat could be very stressed. If any of this sounds like something that your cat might be going through, chances are good that your cat might develop or has already developed feline asthma.

Furthermore, there are some cats that are a bit more likely to develop feline asthma than others. For example, the Himalayan and Siamese breeds are far more likely to suffer from asthma than other cats for reasons that are not quite known to medical professionals. Female cats also seem more likely than males to develop asthma. And cats between the ages of 2 and 8 are more likely to develop asthma than cats younger or older than that.

What to do if you Suspect your Cat has Asthma

One of the things that you need to do right away if you suspect that your cat has asthma is get him or her to the vet right away. This is something that can kill your animal since it can cause difficulties breathing to become impossibilities breathing. Not being able to breathe can, not surprisingly, kill a cat. Your cat’s vet will run some tests and do some checking to determine what it is that is causing your cat to breathe with issues, and then he or she will explain to you what is happening.

Your cat’s vet will likely prescribe you some medication to manage your cat’s asthma. Unfortunately, there is no way to cure feline asthma, so management and preventative measures are the norm. Yes, cats can use an inhaler. However, cats cannot use the same inhaler that humans use, so please do not attempt to make this happen with your cat.

What can you do to Mange Asthma?

Your vet will provide you with some insight as to what you can do to manage your cat’s asthma, including possibly prescribing some medication. Your cat’s vet will also explain to you that there are a few other things you can do to manage your cat’s breathing and make it easier all around. You can help prevent asthma attacks by having your cat tested for parasites regularly. You can also learn to control his or her environment. Keep the cat’s stress level as low as possible. Keep things like hairspray, perfume and other aerosols away from your cat and out of your house when the cat is present. These can exacerbate your cat’s symptoms and likelihood of another allergy attack. Additionally, litter that is particular dusty is also a common cause of allergy attacks, so use something that does not foster much of that. Finally, keep your house as moist as possible since dry air does tend to make asthma attacks more likely.

Your cat might suffer and you might think that there is nothing that you can do for him or her, but that is not the truth. There is plenty you can do to help your cat manage his or her asthma, and it’s going to make everyone in your home a bit more relaxed. Life will be more enjoyable.

Photo by Getty Images

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