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Asthma in Cats - What You Need To Know

Asthma in Cats - What You Need To Know

Did you know many cats suffer from asthma attacks due to inhaled allergens? Studies show that around 1-5% of cats are affected by asthma. If you suspect that your cat might have this condition, our vets at North Providence have outlined some symptoms to look out for and steps you should take.

How can I tell if my cat has asthma?

If you suspect your cat has asthma, watch out for coughing and wheezing as the first signs. Your cat may also appear to be hunching and extending their neck as if trying to expel a hairball.

During a severe asthma attack, you may observe your cat's sides moving in and out as they struggle to breathe, and they may also cough up mucus or drool.

This can cause your cat to become stressed and frightened, so prompt veterinary assistance is essential.

If you notice breathing difficulties in your cat, contact your vet or the nearest animal emergency hospital right away.

Signs and symptoms of asthma in cats include:

  • Difficulty breathing or increased effort to breathe
  • Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Gurgling sounds from the throat
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blue lips and gums
  • Frothy mucus while coughing
  • Persistent coughing or gagging
  • Increased swallowing
  • Overall weakness

If your cat is experiencing asthma symptoms, you may notice rapid breathing while they sleep. A healthy cat typically breathes 24-30 times per minute while resting. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute, it's important to seek immediate veterinary assistance or go to your nearest animal emergency hospital.

It's worth noting that snoring or loud breathing during rest doesn't necessarily indicate an asthma attack. However, if you're worried about your cat's breathing, it's always wise to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for further advice.

What causes asthma in cats?

Asthma attacks are frequently brought on by the cat inhaling an allergen or possibly because of increased stress levels. Some of the most common allergens to trigger asthma attacks in cats include:

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

Beyond allergens, there are also a number of underlying conditions which could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack, including pneumonia, obesity, parasites, a pre-existing heart condition, or a genetic predisposition. 

What can I give my cat for asthma?

If your cat appears to be experiencing asthma, it is important to see your vet for an accurate diagnosis. As mentioned above, several serious health conditions could be at the root of your cat's breathing difficulties.

If your cat suffers from asthma, treatment may comprise corticosteroids to lessen lung inflammation and perhaps a bronchodilator to widen their airways. Your veterinarian may prescribe these drugs in the form of an injection, oral medication, or inhaler equipped with a mask specially designed for cats. However, every animal is unique, and in some instances, your vet may only recommend corticosteroid medication to alleviate your cat's asthma.

What is the life expectancy for cats with asthma?

Asthma in cats is typically an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.

However, with the right medication and a little extra care from pet parents, asthma in cats is manageable. By keeping a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, looking out for the symptoms listed above, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your asthmatic cats live a happy life for years to come.

Will changing my cat's diet help to prevent asthma attacks?

If your cat has asthma, you may wonder what kind of food to give them. Plenty of suggestions are available, but it's best to speak with your veterinarian if you think a dietary change could improve your cat's symptoms. It's important to keep your cat at a healthy weight and provide them with all the necessary nutrients to maintain their well-being. Your vet will assess your cat's medical history and health status to suggest the best diet for your furry friend.

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.

Symptoms of asthma in cats should never be ignored. Urgent veterinary care may be required if your cat is having an asthma attack. Contact our North Providence vets to schedule an emergency appointment or visit your nearest after-hours emergency animal hospital.

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