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Feline Asthma: What Every Cat Parent Should Know!

Feline Asthma: What Every Cat Parent Should Know!

Did you know that our pets can be affected by asthma? While it's not as frequently diagnosed in our canine friends and is often associated with allergic bronchitis or other respiratory issues, it’s surprisingly prevalent among our cat companions!

Hearing your cat wheeze or cough, struggling to catch their breath, can be a scary experience for any cat parent. Not only can it be distressing, but it's especially frightening when you feel helpless in such a situation.

In this blog post, we'll dive into everything surrounding the topic of feline asthma. From understanding what it is and its symptoms to learning about effective management strategies, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to support your feline friend through their asthma journey!


What is Feline Asthma?

Feline asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the small airways in cats' lungs, remarkably similar to how asthma affects humans! It occurs when a cat becomes exposed to specific triggers—like inhaling an allergen—which prompts their immune system to react and activate a response that causes inflammation. During an asthma attack, the airways become inflamed, causing the surrounding lining and muscles to tighten and swell. This inflammation can also lead to increased mucus production, further narrowing the airway passages and making it difficult for air to flow in and out of the lungs.

The result? A struggle for breath that's all too real for our furry felines. It's like trying to catch your breath after running up a flight of stairs!

Believe it or not, asthma is one of the most common respiratory diseases that affects cats. According to estimates by veterinary epidemiologists, approximately 1% to 5% of the domestic feline population in the U.S. has asthma. To put this into perspective, this is more than 800,000 of our cuddly kittens! While feline asthma can occur in cats of any age or breed, it is often observed in cats young to middle-aged. Certain breeds may also have a genetic predisposition to the disease! For instance, Siamese and Himalayan breeds are typically more likely to develop asthma than others.

How is it diagnosed?

Despite being relatively common among our lovable felines, it can be challenging to diagnose asthma in cats! This is due to the similarity of its symptoms to other respiratory conditions. Therefore, veterinarians may need to rule out other possible medical conditions that cause respiratory signs and symptoms—such as pneumonia, cancer, feline heartworm disease, and lung parasites!

There is no one definitive test that can reveal if your cat has asthma or not. As a result, your furry friend may need to undergo a physical examination and multiple diagnostic tests to assess their overall health and determine the cause of their symptoms. Potential tests may include:

  • Urinalysis
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Fecal evaluation
  • Chest X-ray
  • Heartworm Test
  • Bronchoscopy


How to Know If Your Cat Has Asthma

You might be asking yourself, “How can I tell if my cat is suffering from asthma?”

If you suspect that your cat may have asthma or is experiencing an asthma attack, keep a watchful eye out for several key symptoms. These include wheezing, persistent coughing, gagging, and rapid or difficulty breathing with an open mouth. Your furry friend may also display signs of weakness or lethargy.

During an asthma attack, you may also notice your feline companion exhibiting certain behaviors. For instance, in an effort to improve their breathing and open their airways, they may extend their neck and hunch their bodies close to the ground. This position can help them to take in air more efficiently and reduce any discomfort they may feel. Other indicators include panting, bluish discoloration of the lips and gums, and coughing/hacking as if they are trying to bring up a hairball.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, such as respiratory distress, and if not treated immediately—it can potentially become life-threatening and significantly impact their quality of life. If you observe any of these signs or symptoms, immediate veterinary care is crucial! Your fast response to the situation can make all the difference in your cat’s well-being—and I’m sure they’ll thank you with plenty of purrs and affectionate cuddles!


What Causes Feline Asthma?

The exact underlying cause that leads to the development of asthma in cats is not fully understood. However, it is generally believed to be triggered by various factors such as stress, allergens, and irritants in the environment they may have inhaled or been exposed to.

Check out some common causes and triggers below!

To effectively manage and reduce the risk of asthma attacks in your feline friend, understanding these triggers and potential causes is highly essential.



As with humans, when it comes to feline asthma—there is no cure. Therefore, working closely with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that is not only tailored to the severity of the condition but also your cat's specific needs becomes paramount in ensuring they live a happy, healthy, and active life in the long term!

In terms of medication, there are different types that a cat may be administered to treat asthma. Primarily, treatment will involve the use of corticosteroids, to help reduce airway inflammation, and bronchodilators, to ease breathing by expanding and opening up the airways. These can be administered orally, via injections, or be inhaled through inhalers, similar to those used by humans.

Additionally, modifying the cat's environment is another approach to managing feline asthma, as it can help minimize the risk of exposure to potential allergens and reduce the chances of an asthma attack from happening. For instance, this can mean using dust-free cat litter, avoiding heavily scented cleaning products, and limiting their exposure to things like cigarette smoke!


Preventative Measures to Minimize Asthma Attacks in Your Cat

As pet parents, it’s important to ensure that we create a safe and comfortable space for our pets to sleep, play, and live their best life!

Here are some tips and steps on how you can help to prevent and minimize asthma attacks in your purr-fect feline friend!

By implementing these strategies, you can ensure your furry feline enjoys a more content and thriving life!

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