Unfortunately, up to 5% of cats may risk developing feline asthma, otherwise known as feline allergic bronchitis.
What is feline asthma?
Feline asthma is a chronic (long-term) condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways within the lungs, leading to reduced airflow and breathing difficulties in the affected pet. These symptoms may worsen suddenly and severely if triggered by an allergic response or a stressful event.
What causes feline asthma?
Feline asthma is caused by allergies to certain airborne irritants, such as:
- cigarette smoke
- household chemicals
However, cats with asthma can also have flare-ups of their symptoms caused by experiencing stress.
What symptoms do asthmatic cats show?
Here’s what to monitor your feline friend for:
Sudden respiratory distress (an inability to breathe correctly)
And long-term symptoms such as:
- abnormal lung sounds
- increased breathing rate or effort
How is feline asthma diagnosed?
Feline asthma can often be diagnosed with chest X-rays performed under sedation or anaesthesia. However, some cats may require further testing for diagnosis, such as laboratory testing of airway secretions.
How can feline asthma be treated and managed?
In sudden cases of respiratory distress, cats often require urgent veterinary care for oxygen therapy and medications to reduce their airway spasms and inflammation.
Long-term management usually involves initial oral steroid medication to settle airway inflammation, which may be switched (in cooperative cats!) to a steroid puffer for ongoing maintenance with fewer adverse side effects. Some cats may require a second puffer to relieve airway spasming if they are experiencing a symptom flare-up.
At home, owners can help reduce triggers for their pets by:
- frequently vacuuming
- using dust-free kitty litter
- refraining from smoking within the house
- using a HEPA filter (to remove harmful particles from the air).
Don’t hold your breath – consult our veterinary team today about diagnosing and managing pet airway diseases!