What Are The Signs Of Asthma In Cats?
Does My Cat Have Asthma?
Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes
Summary: “Does my cat have asthma?” If you’re concerned about your feline and their breathing, in this blog we learn all about asthma in cats. We’ll find out what the signs of asthma in cats are, whether they need a cat asthma inhaler, if there are any natural remedies, and what the treatment for cat asthma is…
What Is Cat Asthma?
Asthma in cats is the same as asthma in humans; it’s the inflammation of the small airways (bronchioles) in the lungs. It can be brought on by an allergy to triggers like pollen, cat litter, cigarette smoke, mold, dust, or in some cases asthma in cats can be caused by stress.
Female cats are more prone to cat asthma than male cats, and breeds like the Himalayan or Siamese have a genetic predisposition. Asthma in cats usually develops between the ages of 2-8 and asthma affects between 1-5% of cats.
You can’t cure asthma in cats or humans, but you can manage it with the right care and proper treatment.
What Are The Cat Asthma Symptoms?
The signs of asthma in cats can include:
- Difficulty breathing (wheezing, lifting their neck, and gasping to breathe)
- Persistent gagging/coughing
- Producing mucus whilst coughing
- Blue lips/gums
- Frequent swallowing
- Throat gurgling (which you can hear)
- Keeping their mouth open
- Hunching their shoulders, squatting with their neck extended and near the ground
- General weakness and lethargy
Petlab Co. Pro Tip: Coughing in cats can look like they’re trying to be sick which can often be mistaken for trying to bring up a hairball. Video your cat doing what you suspect is coughing to show to their vet - this will help them establish what the issue is if your cat doesn’t do it during an appointment!
Cat Asthma Attack
If your cat is having an asthma attack, they will visibly be heaving in and out and be unable to do anything else. If the attack is quite severe, they may begin panting, appear scared and start drooling or coughing mucus. If this happens, they need emergency medical attention so call your vet.
During an attack, keep calm yourself so as not to alarm your cat and administer the prescribed medication as advised. Make sure the room they’re in is well ventilated (open windows and doors), cool, and quiet. If you have to take your cat to the vet, keep the car well ventilated with the windows down too.
How To Help A Cat With Asthma
If you notice any of these cat asthma symptoms, it’s important you get your cat looked over by a vet straight away. A cat will usually breathe between 24-30 breaths a minute (when not purring or excited), but anything over 40 is considered fairly rapid and should be assessed by a qualified veterinarian.
Your vet will most likely want to do some further investigations before officially diagnosing them and this may include blood tests, a bronchoscopy where they’ll examine their airways with a miniature camera down their throat and into their lungs, or a Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL) where the cat will be put under anesthetic and they’ll collect fluid from their airways to test.
What’s The Usual Cat Asthma Treatment?
If a diagnosis of cat asthma is confirmed, your cat may be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and bronchodilator medications which can help widen their airways when required. Cat-specific antihistamines may also be prescribed if an allergy is suspected.
These medications can be given in tablet or injection form, but are more often than not administered via a cat asthma inhaler which your vet will explain and demonstrate the proper usage of. Remember, ask questions if you don’t understand and only leave when you’re confident you know you can use the cat asthma inhaler correctly on your feline friend.
Are There Any Cat Asthma Natural Remedies?
There are no natural remedies that can help stop asthma, but there are a few things you can do to help your asthmatic cat out:
- Keep them at a good weight - the more overweight a cat is, the harder it is for them to breathe
- Don’t smoke inside or spray things like perfumes, deodorants, and cleaning sprays near them
- Invest in fake flowers and plants rather than keeping fresh ones in the house
- Use a dust-free, unscented cat litter, as the dust and faux fragrance can sometimes trigger an asthma attack
- Keep your cat stress-free by sticking to a routine and making sure they exercise and eat well. Read our blog on how to help manage stress in cats here.
What's The Life Expectancy Of Cats With Asthma?
Yes, asthma can shorten a cat's life expectancy than an average, healthy kitty. But, if a cat’s asthma is well managed and they are kept at a healthy weight and properly looked after, an asthmatic cat can live happily for many years.
Can Cats Cause Asthma?
Cats can’t directly cause asthma, but an asthma attack can indicate an allergy to a cat.
Lots of animals can trigger asthma in humans if they’re allergic to them, including cats. An attack might come on within minutes of being present with the cat or hours later. Unfortunately, simply moving the pet to another room may not do the trick as the allergens (like their saliva or dead skin cells) can stay in the carpet and furniture.
If you and your household are not allergic to cats, but you or someone you live with has asthma it’s usually OK to keep a cat. It’s the allergy that will trigger an asthma attack. If you suspect your asthma is being worsened by your pet, consult with your doctor who can review your asthma medication and offer appropriate guidance.