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Can cats have asthma?

While we may not think about asthma when it comes to our feline friends, approximately 1-5% of cats suffer from the condition. Today, our Murfreesboro vets share the common symptoms of asthma in cats, what causes asthma in cats, and how it can be treated.

Asthma in Cats

You may be wondering how you will know if your cat suffers from asthma. Coughing and wheezing are usually the first signs that your cat is having an asthma attack. Another common symptom is your cat hunching close to the ground with its neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball.

If your cat is having a severe asthma attack, you will most likely notice his or her sides moving in and out as they work hard to breathe, as well as drooling or coughing up mucus. Needless to say, all of this can make your cat very nervous.

If you notice your cat is having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian right away or the nearest animal emergency hospital.

Signs & Symptoms of Feline Asthma

Some other signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack include:

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

Asthmatic cats may also breathe rapidly during sleep. While resting or sleeping, your cat should breathe at a rate of 24 to 30 breaths per minute. If you notice your cat breathing more than 40 times per minute, contact your veterinarian or a local animal emergency hospital.

However, snoring or breathing loudly while resting does not always indicate that your cat has asthma. Nonetheless, if you have concerns about your cat's breathing, you should always consult with your veterinarian.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

So, what causes an asthma attack in cats? Asthma is most commonly caused by the cat inhaling an allergen, but it can also be caused by increased stress. Among the allergens that can cause asthma attacks in cats are:

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

Pet parents should be aware that underlying conditions such as a genetic predisposition, a pre-existing heart condition, pneumonia, obesity, or even parasites can all exacerbate a cat's asthma attack.

Asthma Treatment for Cats

Is there anything I can give my cat for asthma? What is in cat asthma medication? Once your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, as well as a bronchodilator to dilate your cat's airways and allow them to breathe more easily. Your veterinarian can prescribe both of these drugs in the form of an injectable, oral medication, or inhaler. Depending on your cat's overall health, the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as a treatment for asthma; however, bronchodilators are rarely used on their own because they do not treat the inflammation that causes asthma attacks.

The Prognosis for Cats with Asthma

What is an asthmatic cat's life expectancy? Asthma in cats is an incurable and often progressive condition, so if your cat has asthma, he or she will most likely experience periodic flare-ups ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening.

Having said that, asthma in cats is manageable with a little extra care from pet parents and the right medications. You can help your asthmatic cat live a happy life for years by monitoring his or her respiratory effort, keeping an eye out for coughing, and intervening with medication when necessary.

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 showing signs of asthma, contact Animal Medical Center today. Our compassionate vets are here to help your pets.

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Animal Medical Center is happy to welcome new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Murfreesboro companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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