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How do I know if my cat has asthma?

How do I know if my cat has asthma?

Many pet parents don't think about asthma when it comes to our furry friends but approximately 1-5% of cats suffer from the condition. In today's post our Charlotte vets share some of the signs of asthma in cats, as well as what causes the condition, and how it can be treated.

Recognizing Asthma in Cats

You may be wondering how you can tell if your cat has asthma. While experiencing an asthma attack, many cats assume a hunched position close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball. This position is often accompanied by coughing and wheezing.

If your kitty is experiencing a full-blown asthma attack you will likely notice your cat's sides moving in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat may begin drooling or coughing up mucus.

Needless to say, all of this can cause your cat to become extremely frightened. If your cat is having difficulties breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately for assistance or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care.

Common Asthma Symptoms in Cats

Other symptoms of asthma in cats can include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Increased swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Blue lips and gums
  • Persistent coughing
  • Gagging
  • Overall weakness
  • Body hunched with neck extended
  • Frothy mucus while coughing
  • Gurgling sounds from throat

If your cat is experiencing an asthma attack, you may also notice that they are breathing rapidly while sleeping. When your cat is resting they should normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If you notice that your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute contact your veterinarian for assistance, or call your nearest animal emergency hospital.

Pet parents should note that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily indicate that your cat is having an asthma attack. Nonetheless, if you're concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to contact your vet for further advice.

Causes of Cat Asthma

Why is my cat having an asthma attack? Asthma in cats is most commonly brought on by the inhalation of an allergen, although it could also be caused by increased stress levels. A few of the most common allergens that can trigger asthma in cats include:

  • Dust mites
  • Grass
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Mould
  • Pollen
  • Some foods
  • Cat litter dust
  • Household cleaning products

You should also be aware that there are a number of underlying conditions which could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attacks including parasites, a genetic predisposition, a pre-existing heart condition, pneumonia, or obesity. 

Asthma Medicine for Cats

Is there something I can give my cat for their asthma? Once your pet has been diagnosed with asthma your vet may prescribe corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate your cat's airways and allow them to breathe easier. Both can be prescribed by your vet in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler. Depending on your cat's overall health, your veterinarian may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment for your cat's asthma, however, bronchodilators are not typically used on their own since they do not treat inflammation.

Prognosis for Cats with Asthma

What is the life expectancy of a cat with asthma? Asthma in cats typically does not just clear-up and go away. If your feline friend has asthma they are likely to experience periodic flare-ups which can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.

While not considered a curable condition, asthma is manageable in cats with a little extra care from pet parents and appropriate medications. By monitoring your cat's respiratory effort, watching for coughing, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your asthmatic cat to maintain a good quality of life for many years.

Feeding Cats with Asthma

What should I feed my cat with asthma? If you think that the food you are currently feeding your cat is causing or worsening your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your veterinarian. Obesity may increase your cat's risk of having an asthma attack, so feeding your cat a quality, vet recommended food, and helping your cat maintain a healthy weight could help to lessen your cat's asthma symptoms or the severity of their asthma attacks. Your vet will be able to calculate the appropriate number of calories that you should be feeding your cat each day, and recommend the right food for your pet.

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.

If your cat is experiencing difficulties breathing and requires urgent care visit our emergency animal hospital. The emergency vets at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Charlotte are here to help with 24/7 vet emergency services.

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