"Feline Bronchitis refers to the acute or chronic inflammation of a the feline bronchial airways. It is also referred to as feline asthma. Cat bronchitis is caused either by parasites, bacterial and viral infections, chronic cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease complex and most commonly exposure to smoke, chemical fumes or environmental factors. Feline asthma symptoms include persistent cough with spasm, mild fever and wheezing. Diagnosis is made through clinical history, examination, laboratory tests and chest x-rays. Cat asthma treatment is specific to (varies by) each cause. Supportive care along with rest is mandatory to achieve a smooth recovery."
Causes of Feline Bronchitis:
Cat bronchitis is a condition where the bronchi become inflamed. Inflammation can extend up the lungs, or proliferates up to the trachea. Due to its extension towards the trachea and lungs, in the later stages of disease it can turn into a chronic respiratory disease complex.
The most common cause of feline bronchitis are parasites such as Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, bacterial and viral infections of the feline respiratory tract and the oral cavity, cardiovascular (heart) and/or lung diseases, exposure to chemical fumes and smoke exposure over an extended period of time.
Sometimes, cat bronchitis is referred to as feline asthma or feline allergic bronchitis, which is chronic in nature and is caused by either genetic respiratory problems or the aforementioned causative factors. Since allergic bronchitis in cats is a chronic condition, any sudden occurrence of it in older cats is highly uncommon.
Cat Bronchitis Symptoms:
A persistent cat cough accompanied by spasm is a typical sign of inflammation in the bronchial airways. Cat cough symptoms are more severe after rest, at the beginning and middle of periods of exercise and while petting. Generalized signs of feline bronchitis are mild fever, stress,and anorexia (loss of appetite).
The acute form of bronchitis in cats is specifically characterized by initial severe symptoms such as cough, fever and stress, which persists for 2 – 3 days. After the acute stage, other signs may disappear, but the cough persists for several days to weeks.
In the chronic form of bronchitis or cat asthma symptoms are unique such as shortening of breath, wheezing and cough. Even slight exposure to dust, smoke or chemical fumes triggers a cough. In older cats, feline allergic bronchitis may develop into pneumonia. Due to the difficulty breathing, the oxygen supply to the blood may be disturbed and the mucous membranes may become bluish in appearance.
Diagnosis of Cat Bronchitis:
Clinical history and examination are the initial steps required to make a diagnosis. Signs of acute and chronic forms of feline bronchitis should be carefully distinguished. With the help of close monitoring of signs, other causes of cough should be eliminated, especially in older cats.
Chest X-Rays are the most effective tool for confirming a differential diagnosis, which means a diagnosis that eliminates other causes. Chronic forms of bronchitis in cats can be identified as linear markings over the bronchi in chest x-rays. Additional tests might be required in complicated cases, such as bronchoscopy, respiratory mucosal swab biopsy and bronchial washing are some advance techniques used for clarification and confirmation of certain respiratory conditions in small animals.
Treatment of Cat Bronchitis:
Mild and/or acute cases of feline asthma or bronchitis can be treated with supportive treatment only. Controlling symptoms and care can help in this regard. Other options to treat mild and/or acute feline bronchitis are the use of natural remedies, which are safe and effective, and are a way to reduce feline bronchitis symptoms naturally. Natural remedies such as KC Defense will help with cough symptoms while products like Amazapet can help to relieve any respiratory distress.
In severe bronchitis cases or chronic cat bronchitis (feline asthma) specific treatment is required. Different drugs such as broad spectrum anti microbial agents and respiratory physiotherapy might be needed along with other specific approaches to reduce symptoms and to treat underlying causes that have been confirmed based on the laboratory diagnosis. Anti tussive drugs containing coedine and natural remedies can help to reduce the severity of symptoms, stress and other relevant respiratory symptoms in support.
Extreme care, prevention of exposure to causative factors like smoke, chemicals and dust etc.is mandatory for successful treatment. In addition, warmth, rest and the maintenance of proper hygienic measures are other tools that will help to hasten recovery.
Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co. 2008)
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