Feline asthma

Cats are often accused of causing asthma in humans. But did you know that cats can also suffer from asthma? This condition is much more common than you might think and is very similar to the asthma found in humans.

Just like humans , irritants in the environment can cause an irritation in the lungs of cats and trigger an asthma attack .

The diagnosis of feline asthma is made by the cat's medical history , clinical signs , a good physical examination and chest x rays

The diagnosis of feline asthma is made by the cat’s medical history , clinical signs , a good physical examination and chest x rays

When summer weather gets heavy and smog rages on , asthmatic cats have a difficult time .Even during the first sunny days of spring , cats still get no rest. Fruit bearing trees are in bloom, and in late summer , ragweed gets on deck leaving many asthmatic cats in a very tough spot .

Ironically, during periods when pollen levels are high , rainfall is welcomed by many asthmatic cats. Rain can make the allergens that are transported by the wind , fall to the ground .

But what exactly is asthma ? It’s a recurring aggression on the lungs , resulting in an important constriction of the airways.

At the beginning of the condition , excess mucus in the lungs is formed . Then ,inflammation sets in and causes swelling of the lining of the airways that may even ulcerate. Thereafter , the airway muscles are victims of spasms , which lead to their constriction . The decrease in the volume of airway prevents a deep breath, causing; exercise intolerance , coughing , loud breathing and sometimes wheezing . All these signs are not necessarily always present in cats that have asthma . Sometimes a mild chronic cough is the only obvious sign .

The airway constriction can occur spontaneously for no apparent reason , or when the subject has an allergic reaction.

Cough is the main symptom of feline asthma, please watch this video which shows a cat in full asthma attack. Many cat owners confuse asthma with their pet trying to regurgitate a ball of hair. It is true that the sound of cats in these two situations are alike. But if you look carefully , you will hear that it is coughing and not retching .

In rare cases when respiratory distress is noted, those animals require emergency care, because their lives are in danger.

The diagnosis is made by the cat’s medical history , clinical signs , a good physical examination and chest x rays. However, many asthmatic cats show no radiographic lesions , which complicates the diagnosis. In these cases , more sophisticated procedures to make the analysis of cells present in the airways are needed.

Fortunately, this is a disease that can be treated relatively well. Traditionally , tablets or injections are prescribed for asthmatic cats . The new trend is the use of inhalers and nebulizers like with humans. In addition to being highly effective , respiratory therapy has the advantage of having very few side effects. Its main disadvantage is its use itself. Let’s say that it is a bit more complicated to perform than giving tablets. Here is a video that demonstrates the use of inhalers in the cat.


At the clinic we have several patients under treatment with inhalers and the success rate is excellent. When we discuss possible treatment options for their asthmatic cats ,owners imagine it’ll be too difficult. Using the technique of positive reinforcement : reward , inhalation, reward and so on, the procedure becomes much easier to achieve. If ever your cat becomes asthmatic , we encourage you to try it.

If you and your cat have difficulty breathing during spring and summer don’t despair and remember that in many cases , birds of a feather flock together!


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