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Asthma in cats

Asthma is a much more common respiratory disease in cats than dogs. The symptoms often appear in the young or middle-aged cat and very rarely in the older cat. Oriental breeds such as Siamese cats are affected more often than other breeds, and there is no difference seen between males and females.
Asthma in cats

Asthma occurs when the bronchi (the small air tubes in the lungs) become filled with fluid and mucus. This leads to a cat having difficulty breathing. Common symptoms of asthma are coughing and sneezing.

If you notice that your cat is breathing hard or starts coughing, it is  important to have them examined by a vet. Stress can make the symptoms worse, so try and make the vet trip as stress free as possible.

Symptoms of asthma in cats:

  • Laboured breathing
  • Breathing with their mouth open
  • Cough with mucus
  • Repeated sneezing

How is asthma in cats diagnosed?

With the help of a clinical examination, chest x-ray and your description of your cat's symptoms, a correct diagnosis can often be made. It can also rule out other diseases that can cause breathing difficulties in your cat, such as cancer, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) or heart enlargement.

The examination is often supplemented with a blood sample and a cell sample from the upper respiratory tract. For that sampling, anaesthesia is required.

Treatment for asthma in cats

It is best to try and find out what triggers the asthma in your cat. It could be, for example, smoke, dust, perfumes, or pollen. By eliminating it, your cat's asthma can be slowed down. Some cats get such severe problems that they need extra oxygen via an oxygen cage.

Asthma is often made worse by stress, which is sometimes avoided by the use of sedatives. Medicines that widen the airways (bronchi) and inhibit the inflammation in the lungs are usually given in connection with medical treatment.

If the treatment is started in time, the asthma can be slowed down and your cat can live a symptom-free life. For milder complaints, treatment with cortisone is available in tablet form or as inhalation medicine. This is given 1-2 times per day via a mask that is placed over the cat's nose. Some cats have difficulty getting used to this, but it is good to try this treatment as the side effects are fewer than with the tablets. Should your cat not accept the treatment, you can switch to medication in tablet form.

Can you avoid asthma attacks in your cat?

The absolute most important thing to avoid your cat getting asthma is to try to identify the cause of the symptoms. It is often not easy, but we know that asthma, both in animals and humans, is aggravated by air pollution such as cigarette smoke and dust.

If you are a smoker, only smoke outdoors, away from your cat. Dust can be in the air or come from the cat litter in the litter box. Buy dust-free litter or cat litter and check regularly so that dust does not accumulate on furniture and floors.

Change the filter in the vacuum cleaner at regular intervals and keep in mind that even pollen and mould can trigger asthma in your cat. If you use a lot of perfume or hairspray, the room should be ventilated after use.

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