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What are the signs of asthma in cats?

Does your cat experience bouts of breathing difficulties? If so, your feline friend may be suffering from asthma! A trip to the vet is essential if your cat is experiencing any of the most common signs of asthma in cats, here's what to look for. 

Does my cat have asthma?

Coughing and wheezing are typically the first symptoms of asthma in cats. If your cat is struggling to breathe, 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.

A particularly serious asthma attack will cause your cat's sides to noticeably move in and out as they work hard to breathe, possibly accompanied by drooling or coughing up mucus.

If you notice the signs listed above, or any of the other common symptoms below contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!

Other Common Symptoms of Asthma in Cats

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

Cats can also show signs of asthma while sleeping. While resting or sleeping your cat should take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute contact your vet immediately for assistance, or contact your closest animal emergency hospital.

Note: Snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is having an asthma attack. That said, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for a thorough examination.

What are the causes of asthma in cats?

While there are also a number of underlying conditions which could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack including pneumonia, stress, obesity, parasites, a pre-existing heart condition, or a genetic predisposition, a large proportion of asthma attacks are caused by the inhalation of an allergen.

Allergens that can trigger asthma cats include:

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

What can I give my cat for asthma?

If you believe that your cat is experiencing asthma attacks, it's important to see your vet for an accurate diagnosis. As mentioned above, there are a number of serious health conditions that could be at the root of your cat's breathing difficulties.

If your feline friend is diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in your cat's lungs, and a bronchodilator to help open their airways. These medications can be prescribed by your vet in the form of an injectable, oral medication or as an inhaler fitted with a mask designed for use with cats. For some cats a corticosteroid medication alone is sufficient to treat asthma. 

What is the life expectancy for cats with asthma?

Asthma is typically an incurable in cats and may become progressively worse over time. If you cat has asthma they are likely to experience periodic flare-ups which can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.

That said, with the right medication and a little extra care from pet parents, asthma in cats is manageable. Keep a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, look out for any of the symptoms listed above, and administer prescribed medications when needed, to help your asthmatic cat live a happy life for years to come.

What should I feed my cat with asthma?

If you believe that a change of diet could help 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 great way for pet parents to help their cat stay healthy. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your kitty, based on your their 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.

Asthma is a serious health concern in cats! Is your cat possibly having an asthma attack? Visit our emergency department at Veterinary Medical And Surgical Group–OC (VMSG-OC) in Orange County as soon as possible. We provide 24/7 urgent care, emergency diagnostics and urgent care for pets in need.

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