Cat Asthma

"Cat asthma is usually triggered by allergic response. It is difficult to diagnose which is usually based on the elimination of diseases associated with the same symptoms. Medications and alternative therapies can help your cat breathe easier."

Cat asthma is very similar to the same condition in humans. Asthma, also known as allergic bronchitis, is an allergic reaction in which the bronchi (the air passages that go into the lungs) fill with mucous and go into spasms, making it hard to breathe.

Triggers for asthma may include allergic response, tobacco smoke, pollution, dust from litter trays, stress and cold air. Just like humans, cats may also be sensitive to certain foods, as well as food additives, preservatives and artificial colors.

Cat Asthma Symptoms

A cat with asthma will be symptom-free much of the time. When your cat does have symptoms or has an asthma attack, the primary symptom is generally coughing. Your cat may also make a wheezing sound and seem unable to "catch his breath". He may seem to be gasping for air.

Diagnosis of Cat Asthma

It can be a bit tricky to diagnose cat asthma or a cat asthma attack. There are no clinical signs or laboratory tests available that can definitively diagnose asthma in cats. Instead your veterinarian will do tests to rule out the causes of similar symptoms such as respiratory infection, collapsing trachea, laryngeal paralysis, heart disease, fungal diseases and lung tumors.

Your vet will first do a complete physical exam followed by a chest x-ray (to look for bronchial wall thickening and air trapping) and brochoscopy (taking a tissue sample to examine under microscope) to rule out any other respiratory problems. If your vet doesn�t find any other cause for your cat's symptoms, he or she will probably prescribe asthma medications and wait to see if those help. If they do, then if can be concluded that the diagnosis of asthma is correct.

Cat Asthma Treatment

Feline asthma treatment will vary depending on if your cat's symptoms occur once in a while or daily. For infrequent attacks your veterinarian will provide you with a albuterol inhaler that can be used when needed.

For more frequent bouts of feline asthma treatment generally consists of antihistamines, steroids, bronchodilators, or a combination of these drugs. Antihistamines help by drying up excessive fluid and mucous in the lungs and bronchi. Steroids work by controlling the inflammation of the lungs. Bronchodilators are used to reverse the swelling of the bronchi. Your vet will work with you to determine the best treatment regimen for your cat.

Some of these medications are taken orally, while others are inhaled. If your cat needs to use inhalation medication, your vet will teach you how to administer it. You will be given a face mask to put over your pet's mouth and nose, and it will connect to a short tube (called a spacer) into which you will squeeze a short puff of the medication. Your cat will need to breathe the medication for seven to ten seconds. Some amount of experimentation is needed to determine the right drug or combination of cat.

During a severe attack, an injection of epinephrine may need to be given. This will immediately reduce the swelling of the respiratory passages. If your cat has severe asthma attacks, your vet will show you how to administer the injections in case they are needed.

There is no evidence that bacterial infection and antibiotics to treat bacterial infection play a significant role in the cause or continuation of feline asthma.

Homeopathic (non-prescription) Supplements

Herbal and homeopathic asthma treatment can be effective in addition to or as an alternative to prescription medications depending on the severity of the asthma. Natural remedies can be gently effective without the side effects or other complications that often accompany conventional drugs. A good source for product recommendations and further research is Pet Alive.

With proper treatment, a cat with asthma can lead a normal, happy life.


Feline Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment
P. Padrid
Family Pet Animal Hospital
Chicago, IL, USA, University of Chicago
Ohio State University

How to Help the Asthmatic Cat Breathe Easy
L.A. Cohn
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Missouri


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