Cat Asthma or in general terms, feline asthma is a chronic disease pretty much similar to human asthma. It is a chronic inflammation of the bronchi in cats. When asthma attack strikes, the diameter of airways shrinks and mucus accompanies the constriction, making it quite difficult for a cat to breathe.
If not given immediate attention and proper treatment, thicken passageways lead to respiratory distress which can result in death in a matter of minutes.
Some of the felines only suffer from a slight, chronic cough. As cat asthma attack is fatal, any coughing and wheezing cat warrants a vet visit.
How is Cat Asthma Caused?
There is not a firm definition of cat asthma but most veterinarians and researchers believe that feline asthma is a result of allergic reaction to allergens that stimulate a cat’s immune system.
Let’s understand that in detail. When a vulnerable cat intakes an allergen, the body generates particular antibodies in response to the antigen. The next time a cat is exposed to that antigen, those antibodies sense the allergens and induce a cataract of events that bring numerous types of immune cells to the passageway.
Further, these new immune cells cause the system to produce substances that lead to inflammation, a physical condition that causes swelling, irritation, and pain as a reaction to injury and infection in the affected part. As a result of that, air passageways constricts and mucus might accumulate in the airway. The narrowed passageways blocked by mucus limit the air flow and thereby resulting in a respiratory distress.
The disease affects 1% to 5% of all the cats and the average age of cats diagnosed with feline asthma is somewhat between 4 and 5 years.
Difficulty in breathing, rapid respiration, wheezing, coughing, gagging, vomiting, open-mouthed breathing, blue lips and gums, gagging up foamy mucus, lethargy and weakness are the clinical signs of cat asthma.
However, the intensity of signs are varied in cats, but as I already said, a cat warrants a vet visit if she is suffering from persistent slight cough. Other symptoms include increased respiratory efforts, higher respiratory rate. In some cases, a cat might be seen squatting with shoulders hunched, with neck extended and heavily breathing. If you see this posture, see your vet as soon as possible.
Prevention of an asthma attack
Cat asthma is a result of an inflammatory response to the allergens. So it is true that asthma is a result of allergic bronchitis. There are several preventive measures you should keep in mind.
- Get your kitty tested regularly for internal parasites.
- Anxiety and stress worsen allergy and asthma symptoms so keep your feline furball’s environment calm and stress-free as much as possible.
- Avoid using perfumes, air fresheners, hairspray, carpet deodorizers around your kitty.
- Don’t use deodorizers after cleaning a litter box. Simply cleaning it regularly will do the job.
- Dry air makes cats susceptible to asthma attacks, keep a decent humidifier going during winters.
- Keep her active and obesity far away from her.
- Train her to use a litter box because she might contract pollen and other allergens while pooping in dirty places outside your house. Moreover, keep her litter box clean.
- Keep your kitty far away from cigarette smoke.
Treatment of feline asthma is based on medication once the disease is diagnosed. Vets usually prescribe corticosteroids to abate inflammation in the airway and lungs, with or without the use of bronchodilators. Both of these comes in the form of oral, inhaled, and injectable drugs.
However, bronchodilators shouldn’t be used alone as they alone can’t treat the inflammation caused by asthma, but the reverse is true.
Apart from this, there are several other drugs and treatments that aren’t conclusively proven to work. Some of the treatments seem promising to treat asthma, such as experimental therapies, to use omega-3 fatty acids, desensitization of your cat to specific allergens.
All in all, the treatment of feline asthma include medication and some practical treatments. Preventive measures are pretty much easy to keep in mind to avoid feline asthma in your kitty. Happy commenting 🙂