Feline asthma is the most commonly diagnosed respiratory disorder in cats. Veterinary epidemiologists estimate that at least 1 out of every 100 cats suffer from acute or chronic asthma. Asthma is the constriction of the air passages that lead from the windpipe (trachea) to the lungs. It is generally believed to be a result of inhaled allergens including but not limited to tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, household cleaners, perfume, and aerosol sprays. An inflammatory response occurs when a susceptible cat inhales an allergen. Cells, mucus, and muscle spasms cause constriction of the air passages. The severity of the disease can range from mild to life threatening.
Cats who suffer from asthma may show a variety of signs of respiratory distress. This includes breathing rapidly, with their mouths open, or with abnormal chest and abdominal movement. Some cats who are having difficulty breathing may keep their body hunched close to the ground and extend their necks forward. They also might appear to be gagging or about to vomit. Other symptoms of feline asthma may include coughing or wheezing. Please remember that cats are designed to hide signs of illness and distress. It is therefore possible that even signs of significant respiratory distress may be subtle and difficult to detect. A thorough physical examination, fecal testing, blood testing, and x-rays are performed to help diagnose feline asthma and rule out other diseases.
In some cases, chronic feline asthma is managed with inhalant medication to reduce inflammation and/or open up the airways. Inhalant medication targets the specific respiratory tissues involved in asthma and minimizes the effects of systemic medication. Please contact us if your cat has not been examined within the last 6 months. Regular preventative physical examinations help detect underlying disease and improve the overall quality and length of pets’ lives.