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Feline Asthma – What is it?


A few months back as I listened to my cat, Bumblebee, hack up what I thought was another furball, something didn’t seem right. As I watched him seemingly cough and gag for about 10 minutes, I wondered if it was more than I thought. With a deep inhale (the struggle taking grumpy cats to the vet is very REAL!), I knew a visit to the vet was needed.

Dropping him in (with only the faint smell of cat urine left behind in the car) he was admitted for observations and a full exam. Naturally, like all cats, the symptoms magically disappeared whilst he was cage bound for 8 hours. However, luckily we have other ways of finding out what might be wrong with him. He would need a blood test and a series of X-Rays to tell us more.

To gain a full understanding of what was happening, I was asked a series of routine questions, as I answered each I was starting to figure out what may be happening. The last question confirmed it… “Have you been renovating your home recently”?… Yes! Yes, I have. With this, his physical exam and his X-rays back, the diagnosis was in. I can’t believe I have one of “those” cats.

He has asthma! The seed of Satan has asthma. Of course!


Symptoms Of Feline Asthma

It’s not very common, but we do see cats suffering from asthma. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • “Wheezing” and coughing (that sometimes sounds like gagging)
  • In severe cases, cats may sit with their necks extended, panting with their mouths open

Like “Bumblebee”, the signs of feline asthma can come on quickly and may be scary to watch. Your cat may panic if they feel they can’t breathe, so do all you can to keep your cat calm; now is not the time to chase him down the hallway and force him into a carrier. Watch them and allow them to calm down first. However, if your cat seems to be struggling to breathe (using abdominal force), is panting, or if his tongue, gums or lips are turning bluish, this is an emergency. Please call us for advice immediately.


What Causes Asthma in Cats?

Cat’s can hide symptoms of asthma for years. “Bumblebee” was 7 ½ when he was diagnosed. Suspected triggers include pollen, grass, mould, dust mites, tobacco smoke, cat litter, household cleaning products and even some foods.

The condition usually shows up in cats between the ages of 2 and 8 years of age.


Managing Feline Asthma

The first thing you’ll need to do is try and eliminate the triggers that may cause respiratory distress in your cat.

Depending on how bad your cat’s asthma is, he will most likely be treated with a combination of a daily steroid, either by inhaler or pill, and a bronchodilator inhaler for use as needed.


Caring for Your Asthmatic Cat

Home care is mostly about prevention: Minimising exposure to dust, smoke, aerosol sprays and other irritants is essential; use low-dust litter and leave the litter box hood off.

As with most cat health issues, the key to successful management is to know your cat well. Keep your eyes and ears open for any changes, give medications as directed, and get veterinary care as needed. We will work closely together to help your cat stay healthy.

Getting your cat used to the inhaler – YouTube Video


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Pets Health is a full service animal hospital with clinics located in Hilton and O’Halloran Hill. We are dedicated to helping you keep your best mate happy and healthy through each stage of their life with compassionate and reassuring veterinary care.

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O’Halloran Hill Vet Centre

123 Main South Road
O’Halloran Hill, SA 5158

Hilton Vet Centre

142 Sir Donald Bradman Drive
Hilton, SA 5033