Feline Asthma

By Valdette Muller| January 8, 2019 | Blog

Asthma in cats often develops from another breathing problem called allergic bronchitis. 

If the allergic bronchitis goes untreated or the source of the allergy is not removed, the lungs can become permanently damaged, resulting in emphysema and asthma.

Once the damage is done, even removing the original cause or causes of the allergic bronchitis won’t make asthma go away.

Cat asthma details

Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, can make your feline overly sensitive to everyday allergens. Asthma roughly affects 1% of all cats.

When your cat has an asthma attack, the bronchial tubes around your cat’s lungs become narrow when exposed to allergens such as dust, strong perfumes, carpet deodorisers, cigarette smoke and other irritants. Your cat will then have a sudden attack that makes it difficult for them to breathe.

You might see your cat hunched over with their chest to the ground, straining to take a breath, and since cats have to use a litter box regularly to relieve themselves, you will have to make changes to the cat sand to prevent these acute attacks.

Common causes and allergens

Second hand smoke: Recently, some studies have been done on the effects of secondhand smoke on pets. The studies have shown that cats can become more sensitive to allergies and suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma from cigarette smoke.

Stress: An increased level of stress in your cat, due to their environment can make a cat develop respiratory problems over time, including allergies and asthma. Stress can affect your cat’s overall health negatively, and weaken the body to various health issues.

Scented or fumed air: Even things that we think make our home more pleasant can be a big no-no for a cat with bronchitis or asthma. Things like perfumes, scented oils, room fresheners, deodorisers, and even scented litters or litter additives can trigger allergy and asthma attacks. The fumes from paints, cleaners, varnishes, and new carpeting are actually chemical irritants that can create problems for an asthmatic cat.

Dust and dusty litters: It is the most common allergen even for us humans. Clumping kitty litters can be very dusty and can irritate an asthmatic cat’s breathing. Some natural litters (the ones made of soya or recycled paper) have virtually no dust at all. Make sure to keep your home well ventilated, clean and dust free as a preventative, and make sure to look at the labels on the kitty litter brands to check for a more dust free replacement.

Cleaning up and changing your cat’s environment

It is heartbreaking to see your cat struggle to breathe. Sometimes clumping kitty litter can make asthma symptoms worse for an asthmatic cat. Not only will you have to make several changes to your cat’s environment to lessen the risk of asthma attacks, you will also need to change the type of litter used in the cat sand box.

Things you can do to help your asthmatic cat

Use natural and safe substitutes for perfuming your home, such as flowers, eucalyptus, and fresh floral potpourri, to provide a fresh scent to a room instead of sprays or solids that contain chemicals.

If you are going to use strong-smelling paints, stains, cleaners, and solvents, make sure to do so in well-ventilated rooms, and keep the cat out until the smell goes away and put out those smokes.

Use plain brand of litter that is labeled “dust free” and “unscented.” A brand such as Cat’s Best is a wood based cat litter and is known, tried and tested to be dust and odour free. Brands such as Kit Cat’s Soya Clump pride themselves on being dust free, biodegradable and Non-Toxic / safe cat litter for allergy sensitive cats.

When to go to the vet

Milder signs such as noisy breath, occasional and intermittent wheezing or moist coughs, or slightly laboured breathing after exertion, are not a cause for alarm or emergency, but you should get your cat to the see a vet as soon as possible to check on it.

Any full-blown asthmatic attack is a medical emergency, which means your cat needs immediate veterinary medical attention. Signs to look out for are if your cat starts gasping for air, collapses, or has blue gums and tongue, do not wait to take your cat to your nearest veterinary hospital.

Treatments for asthma

When treating feline asthma, vets will usually prescribe corticosteroids which is a class of steroid hormone that is used to relieve the inflamed areas of the body, such as relieving the inflammation in the cat’s lungs. Then vets will usually use corticosteroids with or without bronchodilators which help dilate the bronchi and bronchioles in the lungs, decreasing resistance in the respiratory airway and increasing airflow to the lungs. Both of these types of drugs come in oral, inhaled, and injectable forms.

Prognosis

Feline asthma can become a progressive condition that fails to improve over time, and an affected cat may experience occasional asthmatic attacks that can vary in intensity from mild to life threatening.

Although cats can never be truly “cured” of asthma, by carefully monitoring their respiratory effort, keeping an eye out for coughing, and intervening with medication when they need help, owners can help their asthmatic cats live happily for years.

Sources: https://www.preventivevet.com/cats/cat-litter-and-asthma-yours-and-your-cats

https://pets.thenest.com/can-clean-cat-litter-trigger-asthma-attacks-people-8693.html

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-asthma-what-you-need-know

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