Feline asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease caused by constriction of the air passages in the lungs. The exact causes of feline asthma is not known but it is expected to be an allergic disease. During an allergic attack the airways of the lungs become obstructed due to a reaction to a stress or allergen.
Affected cats can suffer episodes of extremely difficult breathing and many have periods of severe coughing. Asthmatic attacks usually recur and are difficult to impossible to predict. Many months may pass between attacks or they may occur several times daily.
Your vet will need to examine your cat to try to determine the allergen that is causing the asthma. In most cases an allergen will not be able to be found. If an allergen can be pinpointed then reducing the frequency of attacks can be accomplished by keeping the cat away from that allergen. Allergens can include pollutants, dust, smoke and the like. Heart problems can also cause symptoms similar to asthma (wheezing, trouble breathing) so if your cat is experiencing any of the symptoms below take him to a vet as soon as possible.
Symptoms to look for:
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry coughing
Your cat will need to examined by your veterinarian to try to determine what the cause of the symptoms are, if your cat has asthma or some other illness. Although asthma is not curable it can be treated with steroid based injections or pills to help open the bronchial tubes (corticosteroids and bronchodilators). Your vet will determine a course of action to minimize the severity and frequency of attacks; based on his diagnosis your cat may need medications on a long-term basis or he may only need intermittent treatment. If your cat is having a bad asthma attack, especially an older cat, bring him to your vet or emergency room immediately for treatment.
Keep your home clean and try to reduce the levels of dust, pollen and smoke that your cat encounters. Increasing the humidity of your home can also be beneficial in preventing asthma. If your cat has a respiratory infection do NOT let it go untreated. Chronic bronchitis can lead to asthma. At the first sign of an asthmatic attack take your cat to the vet to be examined.