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Can a cat have asthma?

Our emergency and specialist vets at Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists often see cats struggling to breathe properly due to asthma. In today's post we explain the symptoms of asthma in cats, and what you should do if your cat is having an asthma attack. 

Cat Asthma Attack

Coughing and wheezing are typically the first symptoms pet parents notice if their cat is having an asthma attack. You may also notice that your cat is hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball.

More severe asthma attacks result in symptoms such as your cat's sides moving in and out as they work hard to breathe, drooling and/or coughing up mucus.

Having such a difficult time breathing is bound to be both frightening and stressful for your cat. If you notice that your cat is having difficulties breathing, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!

Signs & Symptoms of Asthma in Cats

If your cat is experiencing an asthma attack you may notice one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Hunched body with neck extended
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Persistent coughing or gagging
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Gurgling sounds from throat
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Frothy mucus while coughing
  • Overall weakness
  • Blue lips and gums
  • Increased swallowing

Rapid breathing during sleep can be another sign that your cat is having an asthma attack. While at rest your cat will normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute asthma may be the cause, contact your vet immediately for assistance.

One important thing to note is that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat has asthma. Nonetheless, if you're worried about your cat's breathing it is always best to contact your vet for advice.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

While it's common for cats to be the cause of allergic asthma in people, but what causes asthma in cats? Asthma in cats is frequently brought on by increased stress levels or the inhalation of an allergen. Some of the most common allergens to trigger asthma attacks in cats include:

  • Grass
  • Dust mites
  • Mould
  • Pollen
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Household cleaning products
  • Some foods
  • Cat litter dust

Aside from inhaled allergens, conditions such as pneumonia, obesity, parasites, a pre-existing heart condition, or a genetic predisposition could play a role in the severity of your cat's asthma.

Cat Asthma Treatment

If your cat appears to be experiencing an asthma attack you may be wondering what you can give your cat to help, but it's important to have your cat's breathing difficulties diagnosed before administering any treatment. If your cat is struggling to breathe, contact your vet right away, or visit your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care.

If your kitty is diagnosed with asthma, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate their airways and make breathing easier. These medications can be prescribed in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler fitted with a mask designed for use with cats.

Life Expectancy for Cats with Asthma

Asthma is generally an incurable and often progressive condition in cats, which means that your cat with asthma is very likely to experience periodic attacks throughout their lifetime. These asthma attacks can range in intensity from very mild to severe or life-threatening.

That said, by keeping a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, looking out for the symptoms listed above, and intervening with the prescribed medication when needed, you can help your asthmatic cat to live a long happy life.

Diet to Treat Cat Asthma

If you believe that a change of diet could help to manage your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your vet. Helping your cat to maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is a terrific way to help your cat stay healthy.

But what should you feed your cat with asthma? Speak to your vet to learn which food is best for your cat, based on your kitty's medical history and overall health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is experiencing breathing difficulties contact our Santa Cruz emergency vets right away!

New Patients Welcome

Pacific & Santa Cruz Veterinary Specialists is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about restoring good health to Santa Cruz companion animals. We are open 24/7 to provide your pet with care, whenever they need us.

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Contact (831) 475-5400