Asthma In Cat: Symptoms and Treatments

Cat asthma, also known as feline asthma, is a disease of the lower airways of the lungs that affects between 1 and 5% of cats¹. It is caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled allergens, particles that stimulate a cat’s immune system¹. When a susceptible cat inhales an allergen, her system creates specific antibodies to target that antigen. When the cat is exposed to that antigen again, these antibodies recognize the allergen and start a cascade of events that bring many different types of immune cells to the airways. These immune cells then trigger the production of substances that promote inflammation, a condition that results in irritation, swelling, and reactive constriction of the airways¹¹.

What It Is, Symptoms To Look For

There is no single, specific test that can definitively diagnose feline asthma. Instead, veterinarians rely on information gathering and testing to arrive at a diagnosis. If a veterinarian suspects your cat may have asthma, he or she will take into account the cat’s health history as well as the results of imaging studies, microscopic evaluation of the cells in the cat’s airway secretions (cytology), and in some cases, blood and allergy testing1.

When it comes to diagnosing feline asthma, a picture is worth a thousand words, so veterinarians employ radiographs (X-rays), computed tomography (CT), and bronchoscopy to see inside a cat’s lungs and evaluate their condition. In cats with asthma, radiographs often – but not always – reveal a characteristic bright branching pattern along the airways that is created by the accumulation of inflammatory cells2.

Symptoms of Cat Asthma

Some cats have more severe asthma than others. Symptoms of asthma in cats include.

  1. Difficulty breathing,
  2. Rapid breathing,
  3. Wheezing
  4. Coughing or hacking,
  5. Vomiting, and hunching with neck extended.

These symptoms can vary in intensity and frequency, and may be triggered by pressing on the cat’s throat or by environmental factors. Some symptoms, like coughing, can look like gagging or hairball expulsion3.

What can I do to prevent my cat from getting asthma?

While asthma in cats is a chronic disease, there are many steps you can take to help prevent your cat from experiencing an asthma attack. You should keep your cat away from dusty, non-ventilated spaces. You should also try to avoid small enclosed places that do not have good air flow and could be stressful to your cat.

Some other things you can do include reducing stress in your pet’s environment, avoiding using perfumes, room fresheners, carpet deodorizers, hairspray, aerosol cleaners, etc., around your cat, avoiding using cat litters that create a lot of dust or scented litters or litter additives, reducing smoking around your feline friend, eliminating mold and mildew, curtailing dust and dust mites, and using environmentally friendly cleaning products for your cats’ benefit, your health, and your home environment.

Can cat asthma be cured?

While there is no cure for asthma, it can be successfully treated. Your veterinarian will prescribe medications, such as corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation1. Although cats can never be truly “cured” of asthma, by carefully monitoring their respiratory effort, keeping an eye out for coughing, and intervening with medication when they need help, owners can help their asthmatic cats live happily for years4.

How is cat treated In asthma?

If you have asthma and are sensitive to cats, it’s important to take certain measures to minimize your exposure to cat allergens, which can trigger asthma symptoms. Here are some strategies for managing asthma in relation to cats:

  1. Limit or avoid contact with cats: The most effective way to prevent asthma symptoms caused by cats is to limit your exposure to them. If you’re allergic to cats, it’s best to avoid keeping them as pets. If you visit someone who has cats, kindly ask them to keep the cats away or minimize contact during your visit.
  2. Create cat-free zones: Designate certain areas of your home as “cat-free zones” where your cat is not allowed. Ideally, this should include your bedroom, where you spend a significant amount of time. Use air purifiers with HEPA filters in these areas to help remove allergens from the air.
  3. Clean your home regularly: Regular cleaning is essential to reduce cat allergens in your living environment. Vacuum carpets, rugs, and upholstery frequently using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Wiping surfaces with damp cloths or microfiber towels can also help remove allergens. Consider using allergen-proof covers for your mattress and pillows.
  4. Keep cats out of specific areas: Restrict your cat’s access to areas where you spend most of your time, such as your bedroom or home office. Keep the doors closed or use baby gates to prevent them from entering these spaces.
  5. Use allergen-reducing products: There are various products available that can help reduce cat allergens in your home. These include allergen-reducing sprays, wipes, and laundry detergents specifically designed to neutralize allergens. Follow the instructions on the products carefully.
  6. Consult with an allergist: If you’re struggling to manage your asthma symptoms related to cat allergens, it’s advisable to consult with an allergist. They can perform specific tests to identify the extent of your allergy and recommend appropriate treatments or medications.

Remember, while these measures can help reduce your exposure to cat allergens, they may not completely eliminate the risk. It’s always important to carry your prescribed asthma medications, such as inhalers, and follow your healthcare provider’s advice for managing your asthma effectively.

What triggers asthma in cats?

Asthma attacks in cats are often triggered by allergens or even stress. When cats with asthma breathe in allergens, it triggers an immune response that causes inflammation which results in irritation, swelling, and muscular constriction of the airways. Common allergens known to trigger cat asthma include pollen, grass, dust and dust mites, mold, dander of other animals, cat litter, insects, and tobacco smoke.

While there is no cure for asthma, it can be successfully treated. Your veterinarian will prescribe medications, such as corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation. They may also prescribe medications called bronchodilators to help dilate or open the airways.

Can you treat cat asthma at home?

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