Asthma in cats is a chronic inflammation of the airways in the cat's lungs. The airways in the lungs over-react to an irritant or an allergen. Thus, there will be an inflammatory response and a higher mucus production in the airways.
Hence, the cat will have trouble breathing. Also, in asthma, the reaction to an irritant causes the muscles in the small airways to contract cause difficulty in breathing.
Therefore, when a cat with asthma inhales allergens, it triggers an immune response whereby inflammation occurs. Thus, causing irritation, muscle constrictions, and swelling.
The reaction also causes overproduction of mucus and narrowing of the airways which make it hard for air to reach the lungs. The mucus discharge into the airways may cause your cat to cough and wheeze uncontrollably.
Cats with asthma life expectancy
Regrettably, cat asthma has no cure. If your cat has asthma, they will with it for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, cats with asthma can lead normal and healthy lives with proper treatment. Cat asthma is manageable and cats with asthma life expectancy are long if they get the proper treatment.
Signs that your cat has asthma
Signs that a cat has asthma may vary from one cat to another. Usually, symptoms a cat with asthma exhibits depend on the severity of their asthma. Therefore, the signs may be either persistent or occur periodically.
It is crucial to know that other health conditions may exhibit symptoms similar to cat asthma. These conditions include feline heartworms, respiratory infections, and lungworm.
Additionally, when your cat inhales a foreign body, they may cough uncontrollably to remove the object from their respiratory system. Therefore, it is vital to let your vet know all the symptoms your cat is experiencing, and when they occur.
Furthermore, you can take a video of your cat coughing to help your vet determine if the coughing is due to asthma or something else.
The most common symptoms of asthma in cats include
1. Labored breathing in cats
A cat having trouble breathing could be suffering from asthma or chronic bronchitis. Therefore, if you notice that your cat is having great difficulty catching its breath, it could be a sign of asthma. The difficulty in breathing may be accompanied by wheezing and bouts of coughing.
When drugs that help relax the muscles of the airways are administered, your cat will be able to breathe well. Thus, the response to bronchodilators suggests that the constriction in the airways is reversible. Hence, a sign that your cat has asthma.
2. Cat breathing fast and heavily
A normal cat's breathing rate ranges between 25-30 breaths per minute when the cat is at rest. Therefore, if your cat is taking more than 40 breaths a minute, you will need to take him to the vet for a checkup. Cats with asthma tend to breathe rapidly and heavily even when they are at rest.
3. Lethargy and fatigue after an activity
A cat that appears lethargic after playing or breathes heavily after an activity could be suffering from asthma. Excess fatigue and lethargy after playtime are a sign that the cat is not getting enough oxygen in their blood. This could be a result of the constricted air passages.
4. Cat breathing through the mouth
A cat breathing the mouth and panting could be a sign of asthma. Also, you may notice that a cat with asthma extends its neck upwards and gasps for breath. This happens because they are trying to get in as much oxygen as possible through their constricted airways.
5. Noisy breathing and wheezing
Cats with asthma have noisy breathing that may be a result of the excess mucus in their airways. Also, they may have an audible throat gurgling due to the mucus in their airways.
The wheezing occurs when the airways’ muscles constrict hence resulting in wheezing sounds when breathing. In severe cases, the cat’s lips and gums may appear blue.
If this happens, take your cat to the vet immediately as it is a sign that your kitty is not getting enough oxygen.
It is important to seek a vet's advice if you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat. Coughing and wheezing are signs that the cat’s lungs are inflamed, and the cat is at risk of oxygen deprivation.
Cats with asthma life expectancy can be extended if they get veterinarian help immediately. With proper management, cats with asthma can lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
What Causes Asthma in cats?
There is no specific cause of asthma in cats. All cat breeds of any gender can get asthma. However, breeds like Himalayan and Siamese are at a higher risk of getting feline asthma. Additionally, cats above 6 years old are at an increased risk of developing chronic airway disease.
Nevertheless, here are some factors that can trigger an asthmatic attack or cause asthma in cats. In most cases, a cat will start showing symptoms within a few minutes after exposure to the trigger.
Here are the most common triggers
Allergens include molds, dust, pollens, cigarette smoke, perfumes, aerosol sprays, and certain foods.
- Pre-existing health conditions
These include heart conditions and obesity
Management of asthma in cats
1. Removal of irritants
The presence of an irritant in the cat’s environment is likely to trigger an asthmatic attack. Therefore, if your cat gets an attack from perfumes, ensure that you do not use them in the house.
Also, if your cat is sensitive to dust, pollen, and mold, consider getting an air purifier to remove dust and other allergens in the cat’s environment. Therefore, identify the specific trigger factors for your cat and eliminate them to minimize the chances of your cat getting an asthmatic attack.
2. Administration of anti-inflammatory drugs
Your vet may administer anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the inflammation of the airways. These may include glucocorticoids such as prednisolone. Also, the vet may administer the medicine orally, by injection, or through inhalation.
NOTE: All drugs given to your cat should be through a veterinarian prescription. Human drugs can be toxic to cats and the result can be fatal. Therefore, before administering any drug to your cat, consult your vet first.
Inhalers help deliver the drug directly to the airways. To deliver inhalers, you will need a spacer with a tight-fitting mask. Before using the spacer device on your cat to administer the inhaler drugs, ensure that you first get your cat comfortable using the device.
Do it gradually without any drugs and make it fun for your cat. You can spend time and play with your cat when getting them used to the device. Thus, when the time comes to administer the drugs, your cat will be comfortable to use the mask and the spacer.
Signs of a cat asthma attack and what you should do
During a minor asthmatic attack, your cat may experience bouts of coughing. They may stretch their neck and keep their head close to the ground while coughing. Also, you may hear wheezing sounds during this episode.
Here are some common signs that your cat is having an asthmatic attack
- Blue gums and lips
During an asthmatic attack, your cat is likely not getting enough oxygen to its lungs. As a result, oxygen reaching their body parts may be lower than normal. Thus, their lips and gums may appear bluish due to lack of enough oxygen.
During an asthmatic attack, your cat may produce wheezing sounds due to trouble breathing. A wheeze is a whistling sound that your cat makes when they are struggling to get some air through the airways to their lungs. Your cat having trouble breathing during an asthmatic attack is because the airways are swollen or constricted.
During an asthmatic attack, your cat may cough persistently and uncontrollably. The coughs may sound similar to the coughs a cat produces while trying to cough up hairballs. Sometimes, your cat may cough up mucus or start drooling.
- Neck extended while in a squatting position
Your cat may sit in a squatting position with its neck extended straight. This happens because the cat is trying to gasp for air during the attack.
What you should if your cat has an asthma attack
1. Remain calm for the sake of your cat. If you panic, your cat may be more stressed and worsen the situation.
2. If you have a bronchodilator or any medicine prescribed by your vet, administer it immediately.
3. Move your cat I a well-ventilated area. If the attack was triggered by an allergen, remove the allergen from the cat’s environment.
4. Take your cat to the veterinarian for a checkup.
How to prevent asthma attacks in cats
1. You can prevent asthma attacks by doing the following
2. Prohibit cigarette smoking anywhere around your cat
3. Get your cat treated for any respiratory infections as soon as they occur
4. Avoid using scented products or strong perfumes around your cat
5. Use dust-free and unscented cat litter
6. Ensure that your cat is in a well-ventilated environment always
7. Install an air purifier in your home to get rid of dust, dust mites, and pollen
8. Allergy testing
9. Avoid situations that may stress your cat
10. Ensure that your cat maintains a healthy weight
Proper and early treatment will improve the symptoms and improve your cat’s quality of life. However, your cat may need therapy and treatment for the rest of their lives.
If treatment is not administered promptly, severe asthma attacks can be fatal for your kitty. It may cause irreversible damage to your cat’s lungs that can eventually prove fatal.
Thus, to improve your cat with asthma life expectancy, administer the drugs as advised by the veterinarian, and have regular vet check-ups.