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Dealing With Asthma in Cats

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A severe attack of asthma in cats can be sometimes mistaken for another case possibly choking on food or just a hairball attack. Feline asthma can cause your cat to cough, but then it will appear to be fine after a while.

Whenever you notice such symptoms, it is best to visit a vet so that asthma can be ruled out as an option.

What exactly is feline asthma?

Siberian cat

A lot like asthma in humans, feline asthma is an upper respiratory condition that causes difficulty in breathing. Feline asthma is usual allergen- caused. Another name for feline asthma is feline bronchial disease, or simply bronchitis.

The individual bronchi constricts or tightens because of bronchial spasms. The result of this is swelling of the surrounding tissues that throws your cat into a state of full blown asthma attack. Humans who have had to deal with asthma will be able to explain how the attack feels like, as coughing is what happens when your body makes an attempt to expel the excess mucus.

Symptoms of asthma attacks in felines

You may find it difficult to detect early symptoms of asthma in your cat. Some of the early symptoms may include faint wheezing, which will become audible after exercises. You may also notice laboured breathing which follows a serious asthma attack, and your cat may also begin to get tired more easily.

It can be tricky trying to identify a full blown asthma attack as it may look like your cat is trying to get rid of a hairball or it is probably choking on a piece of food. Your cat’s body posture is different with an asthma attack. You will notice the cat’s body somewhat lowered to the ground and it will have its head and neck extended out and down as it attempts to clear is air ways of mucus.

The cat will not only gag, it may also begin to sneeze and cough with the possibility of it expelling foamy mucus once in a while.

It is easy to write serious attacks off as nothing my hairballs because they usually do not occur frequently. You must be aware that asthmatic conditions in cats can be life threatening and if your cat has a full blown attack you must visit a vet immediately to take a look at it and begin treatment.

Once your feline is diagnosed with asthma, there are things you can do to help it when it is having an attack. Before we examine the options of things you can do to help it, we have to understand what causes feline asthma.

Causes of asthma attacks in cats

Cats that are asthmatic may also be prone to exercise related attacks and exposure to stress can increase the chances or even exacerbate a car asthma attack. Because you already know how stress can affect your cat it is important that you try as much as possible to remain calm when your cat is experiencing an attack as you can transfer your stress to the feline.

Meaning of the allergens that causes human asthma attacks are equally responsible for asthma attacks in cats. Allergens include cold, dust, smoke, cat litter, household chemicals, pollen, moist air, molds, or mildew.

Diagnosing asthma in felines

there are several other diseases that share the same symptoms with failing asthma some of those diseases include respiratory disease that is related to heartworm. that in itself is a very dangerous condition.

Your veterinarian will have to run a series of diagnostic tests to be able to eliminate some of those conditions as possible options of what your cat is dealing with. The diagnostic tools commonly used are:

1. Blood test: This is usually the easiest and quickest way for vets to detect infections even those that are responsible for asthma in cats. The test will help doctors detect neutrophils, eosinophils, macrophages, and mast cells, which are all types of blood cells that work together to make up the immune system. Another reason why blood work is also great is that it helps the vet to eliminate other diseases that may have the exact symptoms your cat is experiencing.

2. Chest x-ray:  The chest x-ray is also called the thoracic x-ray, and will easily disclose any abnormality, such as any areas of chronic irritation that is caused by an infection, unusual fluid accumulation, or a flattened diaphragm. The x-ray may also detect evidences of heart diesease but that would not eliminate the possibility of asthma because oftentimes both go hand in hand. For consultation purposes your vet may decide to send the cat’s x-ray to a specialist.

The chest x-rays usually done in two stages: Ventrodorsal with the cat lying on its back with its limbs extended to prevent obstruction and lateral with it lying on its side. Even though many cats will easily assume any position for an x-ray or for Treatment but many others have to be given a dose of anesthesia before the x-ray can be performed.

3. Bronchoalveolar Lavage: This procedure is a very safe one and is extremely useful. To perform a Bronchoalveolar Lavage the vet has to insert an endotracheal tube into the cats trachea under general anesthesia, before proceeding to collect fluids that are present in the airways of the animal’s lungs for examination.

The Bronchoalveolar Lavage is also called BAL and can be used to diagnose several other conditions. The draw back of this method of diagnosis is that it must be done under general anesthesia which isn’t recommended for felines dealing with severe respiratory distress.

Treatments for asthma in cats

Once your feline has been diagnosed with asthma you are offered a variety of treatment options, depending on how severe the cat’s condition is. The first and most commonsensical thing to do is to eliminate all the allergens in the environment that may be responsible for respiratory distress in felines. While it may be easy to get rid of some of the allergens, others may be difficult and more expensive to get rid of.

These are a few of the common asthma triggers:

1. Smoking: of course your cat can’t be a smoker so you already know we are referring to you here. You may have to engage in your smoking activities outside the house or completely quit for the sake of other people and creatures around you. Besides you’ll be doing yourself so much good as well.

2. Fireplace smoke:  even humans worth asthma cannot stand the traditional log burning fireplace smoke. You can change your old log fireplace to a gas/log fireplace. Even for humans, scented candles and spray or plugin air fresheners are dangerous.

3. Mold and mildew: You may have to employ the services of professional to clean your environment properly and get rid of molds and mildew.

For other triggers that are outdoors and you can’t easily get rid of like dust or cold, the best thing to do is keep your feline indoors at all times. Besides, allowing your cat play outdoor exposes it to a variety of health dangers which may be life threatening.