If your feline friend is having difficulties breathing it's time to head to the vet to find out if your cat is having an asthma attack! While many pet parents don't realize that cats can suffer from asthma, it is a fairly common condition in cats and can occur for many of the same reasons that asthma attacks happen in people.
What are the symptoms of a cat asthma attack?
Coughing and wheezing are often the first symptoms of asthma in cats. If your feline friend is having an asthma attack you may also notice that they are hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball.
If your cat experiences a particularly serious asthma attack you will be able to clearly see your kitty's sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and they might even begin coughing up mucus or drooling.
Unsurprisingly, having such a difficult time breathing will likely cause your cat to become very stressed and frightened. If your kitty is struggling to breathe, contact your vet immediately for assistance or take your cat to your nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care.
Symptoms of asthma in cats can include:
- Increased effort to breathe
- Difficulty breathing
- Open-mouth breathing
- Gurgling sounds from the throat
- Persistent coughing or gagging
- Increased swallowing
- Hunched body with neck extended
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Rapid breathing
- Blue lips and gums
- Overall weakness
In some cases, rapid breathing during sleep is an indication of an asthma attack. While your cat is resting or sleeping they should normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If your cat is taking more than 40 breaths per minute contact your vet immediately for assistance. Your vet will let you know whether an urgent appointment is necessary for your cat. Outside of your vet's regular office hours, contact your nearest emergency animal hospital for advice.
That said, it's important to note that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is having an asthma attack while sleeping. However, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to be cautious and contact your vet for further advice.
What causes asthma in cats?
There are several underlying health conditions that could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack such as a genetic predisposition, a pre-existing heart condition, pneumonia, increased stress, obesity, or parasites. However, the inhalation of allergens is the most common cause of asthma attacks in cats. Some of the allergens that can trigger asthma attacks in cats include:
- Dust mites
- Cigarette smoke
- Household cleaning products
- Some foods
- Cat litter dust
What are common cat asthma treatments?
If your feline friend has been diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in your cat's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help open up their airways. These medications can be prescribed by your veterinarian 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 of cats with asthma?
Even with treatment, cats with asthma may continue to experience periodic flare-ups that can vary in intensity from mild to life-threatening.
That said, with the help of appropriate medications and a little extra care from pet parents, asthma in cats is a manageable condition. By keeping a watchful eye on your cat's respiratory effort, looking out for the symptoms listed above, and intervening with medication when needed, you can help your cat to live a comfortable and happy life for months or years to come.
Can changing my cat's diet help prevent asthma attacks?
Helping your cat to maintain a healthy weight, while ensuring that all of their nutritional needs are met, is certainly a great way for pet parents to help kitty stay healthy. Consult your veterinarian about the best diet for your cat. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your cat, based on your pet's medical history, activity level and overall health.
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.