What Exactly Is Feline Asthma?
There is continuous research being conducted to learn more about cat asthma. The more we know about the cause of the problem, the more effective we become in treating the condition.
Normally, air has a free path from the nose or mouth through the pharynx, larynx, trachea, bornchi, bronchioles and alveoli. Asthma is a game changer because it makes this passage more difficult. Think of water coming from a hose. It comes out in a steady flow, but if you put your thumb partially over the end of the hose, the water pressure rises and you can feel that the water has to push harder to get out. Something similar happens in feline asthma.
Asthma is a cat ailment where the airway suffers a constriction for some reason. Usually this is due to exposure to some sort of allergen. The body then overreacts to this allergen, causing sever inflammation in the lining of the airway and contraction of surrounding muscle. Thus the lumen or center of the airways become narrowed and less air can pass. The final result is difficulty breathing, especially during exhalation.
There are many things that are suspected allergens, including smoke (cigarette or fireplace), dusty kitty litter, cleaning solutions, aerosol sprays, pollen, mold, mildew, dust, and foods. It is said that Siamese cats and outdoor cats are more prone to asthma, although risk factors are still under study and these claims have not been proven as yet.
There are two types of asthma: chronic and acute asthma. Asthma severity is classified into four categories: Mild, moderate, Severe and Life-Threatening.
- Mild - symptoms are intermittent, not daily. Does not interfere with cat's lifestyle.
- Moderate - The symptoms interfere with the cat's life. Thought they don't happen every day, they are more severe.
- Severe - Significant debilitation on a daily basis
- Life-Threatening - Lips and nose turns blue due to potentially lethal respiratory distress and oxygen deprivation. Requires veterinary aid.
Asthma in Cats Symptoms
Signs and symptoms include shallow, rapid breathing with mouth open, abnormal chest and abdomen movement and possibly a wheeze on exhalation. There are many diseases that mimic the asthma in cats symptoms.
Cat Asthma Diagnosis
Diagnosis is usually made thorough physical exam, blood test and a faecal exam. The diagnosis for asthma is often considered a diagnosis by exclusion. This means that you exclude all other possibilities and what is left is asthma.
Feline Asthma Treatment
There is no cure for this cat ailment, but it is manageable. Treatment depends on severity and includes corticosteroid drug and bronchodilators. These can be administered orally as a tablet, as an injection or inhaler. A cat inhaler is a special mask designed to fit over the cat's face which attaches to spacers that contain the drug.
Your cat should be under the care of local veterinarians or animal hospitals. Prolonged corticosteroid use can cause serious problems including pancreatitis and diabetes. If you are interested in more information regarding dangers of prolonged corticosteroid use, ask the vet or look online for vet advice. It is also a good idea if your vet is involved with any respiratory problems.
Cat asthma is a potentially fatal cat ailment, but your kitty can lead an almost normal life with the proper management.