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Is my cat having an asthma attack?

Is my cat having an asthma attack?

Many pet parents don't realize that, like people, cats can suffer from asthma, and for many of the same reasons as people. 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! 

Cat Asthma Attack

The first symptoms of asthma in cats are often coughing and wheezing. If your cat is having an asthma attack you may also notice that kitty is hunched close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball.

During a particularly serious asthma attack you will be able to clearly see 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.

Having such a difficult time breathing will naturally cause your cat to become very stressed and frightened. If your kitty is struggling to breathe, contact your vet immediately for assistance or call your nearest animal emergency hospital!

Signs of asthma in cats include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Body hunched close to the ground with neck extended
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Gurgling sounds from throat
  • Persistent coughing or gagging
  • Overall weakness
  • Increased effort to breathe
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blue lips and gums
  • Frothy mucus while coughing
  • Increased swallowing

Rapid breathing during sleep is another common symptom of asthma in cats. While resting or sleeping your cat should normally take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute. If 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 an urgent examination.

One important thing to note is that snoring or breathing loudly when resting doesn't necessarily mean that your cat is having an asthma attack. Nonetheless, if you are concerned about your cat's breathing it is always best to err on the side of caution and contact your vet for further advice.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

Asthma attacks in cats are often triggered by the cat inhaling an allergen. Some of the most common allergens that can lead to asthma attacks in cats include:

  • Grass
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Household cleaning products
  • Some foods
  • Cat litter dust

Beyond allergens, there are also a number of underlying conditions which could contribute to the severity of your cat's asthma attack including pneumonia, increased stress, obesity, parasites, a genetic predisposition, or a pre-existing heart condition. 

Cat Asthma Treatment

If your cat is experiencing asthma symptoms it is important to see your vet for an accurate diagnosis! As mentioned above, there are a number of serious health conditions that could be at the root of your cat's breathing difficulties.

If your kitty is diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in your pet's lungs, and possibly a bronchodilator to help dilate 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. In some cases the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication alone as treatment for asthma in cats. 

Life Expectancy for Cats with Asthma

In cats, asthma is considered to be an incurable and often progressive condition, which means that cats with asthma are likely 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 manageable. 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 happy life for many years.

Diet & Cat Asthma

There is a lot of advice out there as to what you should feed your cat if they suffer from asthma. If you believe that a change of diet could help your cat's asthma symptoms, consult your veterinarian. 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. Your vet will be able to recommend the right diet for your cat, based on your pet's medical history, activity level and overall condition.

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.

If your cat appears to be having an asthma attack urgent veterinary care may be required! Contact your primary care vet to schedule an urgent appointment, or bring your cat to see our emergency vets straight away.  At Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Huntersville, our emergency vets are specially trained in emergency medicine and triage.

Caring for Pets in Huntersville

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral. Our 24/7 emergency service accepts all clients.

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