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What is Feline Asthma?

Did you know your kitty can suffer from asthma, just like humans? In fact, feline asthma is a reasonably common condition, affecting nearly an estimated one percent of cats worldwide.  There is no cure for this respiratory disease, but with the right treatment, your cat can live a full and happy life.

Causes

Asthma is an immunity-related condition that develops in response to one or more inhaled allergens. After the first exposure to this allergen, the immune system creates a particular antibody to deal with it. The next time the allergen is encountered, the body recognizes it as a threat and responds with an immune system reaction. This involves inflammation that causes the airways to swell and restrict breathing.

It is not clear why some cats develop an immune system response to particular allergens, but the condition usually develops in animals between 2 and 8 years of age and is more prevalent in Siamese and Himalayan breeds.

Symptoms

A cat with asthma may suffer from only mild, sporadic symptoms, which can make diagnosing the condition somewhat difficult, while others suffer from serious or persistent side-effects. The most low-grade symptoms might include an occasional cough or wheezing.

More serious signs include lethargy (especially after exercise), rapid breathing or persistent coughing, like that triggered by a hairball. During a full-blown asthma attack, cats will usually crouch with the head forward while wheezing and gagging, keeping their neck extended and gasping for breath. They may also experience frothy mucus after coughing, vomiting, and blue lips and gums.

Treatment

Two kinds of medicated treatment are generally used to treat asthma in cats. One is to control the allergic response; the other is to make breathing easier. Corticosteroids are usually the primary choice of vets for controlling the immune response, but the effects have to be weighed up against the side effects of long-term use. A medication known as a bronchodilator is used to dilate the airways and relax the lungs, making it easier to breathe. For cats, these can be administered via a specially adapted inhaler.


What is Feline Asthma?

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