It may come as a surprise to learn that like people, cats can suffer from asthma, and for many of the same reasons. Check out the symptoms below to learn whether your cat may be having an asthma attack, and what you should do if your cat has asthma.
What do cat asthma attacks look like?
The earliest signs of asthma in cats are coughing and wheezing however if your cat is having an asthma attack you may notice that they hunch close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball. If your cat is having a particularly severe asthma attack you will also notice your cat's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat may even begin coughing up mucus or drooling.
Can my cat have an asthma attack while sleeping?
Cats with asthma may also experience difficulties breathing while sleeping. A healthy cat should take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute while at rest. If your kitty is taking more than 40 breaths per minute contact your vet immediately for assistance, or take your pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care. That said, pet parents should note that snoring or breathing loudly when resting isn't necessarily a sign that your cat is having an asthma attack.
If you are concerned about your cat's breathing whether awake or asleep contact your vet for further advice. When it comes to your feline friend's health, it's always better to err on the side of caution.
How can I tell if my cat is having an asthma attack?
If your kitty is displaying any of the following symptoms they may be experiencing an asthma attack.
- Difficulty breathing (open-mouth breathing)
- Hunched body with neck extended
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Overall weakness
- Gurgling sounds from throat
- Increased effort to breathe
- Rapid breathing
- Blue gums and lips
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Increased swallowing
What causes cats to have asthma attacks?
As with people, asthma in cats can be triggered by the inhalation of allergins. Allergens that can lead to asthma attacks in cats include pollen, grass, dust mites, mold, household cleaning products, cigarette smoke, cat litter dust, and various foods. Underlying conditions such as pneumonia, stress, obesity, parasites, genetic predispositions, or pre-existing heart conditions may lead to breathing difficulties in cats.
What are the most common cat asthma treatments?
If your kitty is experiencing breathing difficulties it is essential to investigate the cause. A number of serious health conditions could be at the root of your cat's asthma. Once diagnosed with asthma your cat's treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation, and a bronchodilator to help dilate their airways. Medication to treat asthma in cats can be prescribed in the form of an injectable, oral medication, or as an inhaler fitted with a mask designed for use with cats.
What is the life expectancy for cats with asthma?
Asthma in cats is often a progressive condition, meaning that even with treatment cats with asthma are likely to experience periodic flare-ups varying intensity from mild to life-threatening. That said, asthma is manageable in cats with appropriate medications and a little extra care from pet parents. By monitoring your kitty's respiratory effort, watching for asthma symptoms, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your cat to live a happy and comfortable life for many years to come.
Can changing my cat's diet help prevent asthma?
If you believe that your cat's asthma attacks may be due to a food allergy, contact your vet for advice on the best food for your pet and to arrange for allergy testing to help pinpoint your cat's food sensitivities.
Helping your cat to maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is certainly an effective way for pet parents to help their pet feel their very best. Your vet can help you to calculate your cat's caloric requirements in order to know exactly how much you should feed your cat each day.
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.