Asthma in cats is an increasingly common condition that currently affects about 1% of cats around the world. Feline asthma is a chronic allergic respiratory disease that has no cure. Marked by breathing problems such as wheezing, coughing, and labored breathing, feline asthma can actually be fatal when cats suffer from severe broncho-constriction. Furthermore, as we are being exposed to more and more industrial chemicals, some researchers believe the incidence of feline asthma is actually on the rise.
Cat owners need to be wary of their cat’s breathing problems. Labored breathing may be a symptom of other respiratory illnesses, but whether your cat is suffering from asthma or a different respiratory condition is of little consequence. Clearly, respiration is a very important part of your cat’s health and any problems in this system should be addressed immediately. Also, keep in mind that cat coughing sounds much the same as when your cat passes a hairball. So, if you notice coughing for a prolonged period you should visit your veterinarian.
Your vet will first try to rule out other respiratory diseases or causes of infection. During the diagnostic process, your veterinarian will likely take blood tests and a chest x-ray. Respiratory distress can be caused by a wide range of factors including heartworm, lungworm, and heart disease. Once your vet has ruled out these conditions and diagnosed asthma, you can begin to develop a treatment plan.
Feline asthma is incurable but there are a number of useful treatments to ameliorate the symptoms. Typically, your cat will require asthma treatment for the course of her life. Feline asthma is most commonly treated with bronchodilators, glucocorticosteroids, or both. In mild asthma cases, bronchodilators are effective but as the symptoms progress, as they almost always do, your veterinarian will likely begin treatment with steroids. Moreover, treatment options for feline asthma have improved over the years and it is possible to use inhaling devices as well as oral and injected medications to treat feline asthma.