Can cats have asthma?

While we may not think about asthma when it comes to our feline friends, approximately 1-5% of cats suffer from the condition. Today, our Simi Valley vets share the common symptoms of asthma in cats, what causes asthma in cats, and how it can be treated.

Asthma in Cats

You may wonder how you will know if your cat has asthma. Coughing and wheezing are usually the first indications that your cat is having an asthma attack. Another common symptom is your cat hunching low to the ground, neck extended forward, as if attempting to expel a hairball.

If your cat is having a severe asthma attack, you will most likely notice his or her sides moving in and out as they work hard to breathe, as well as drooling or coughing up mucus. Needless to say, all of this can make your cat very nervous.

If you notice your cat is having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian right away or the nearest animal emergency hospital.

Signs & Symptoms of Feline Asthma

Some other signs that your cat may be having an asthma attack include:

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

Asthmatic cats may also breathe quickly while asleep. While resting or sleeping, your cat should take 24 to 30 breaths per minute. If you notice your cat breathing more than 40 times per minute, call your vet or a local animal emergency hospital.

However, snoring or breathing loudly while resting does not always indicate that your cat has asthma. Nonetheless, if you have concerns about your cat's breathing, you should always consult with your veterinarian.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

So, what causes an asthma attack in cats? Asthma is most commonly caused by the cat inhaling an allergen, but it can also be caused by increased stress. Among the allergens that can cause asthma attacks in cats are:

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

Pet parents should be aware that underlying conditions such as a genetic predisposition, a pre-existing heart condition, pneumonia, obesity, or even parasites can all exacerbate a cat's asthma attack.

Asthma Treatment for Cats

If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation in the lungs, as well as a bronchodilator to dilate the airways and allow them to breathe more easily. Your veterinarian can prescribe either of these drugs as an injectable, oral medication, or inhaler. Depending on your cat's overall health, the vet may prescribe a corticosteroid medication as a treatment for asthma; however, bronchodilators are rarely used on their own because they do not treat the inflammation that causes asthma episodes.

The Prognosis for Cats with Asthma

What is an asthmatic cat's life expectancy? Asthma in cats is an incurable and often progressive condition, so if your cat has asthma, he or she will most likely experience periodic flare-ups ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening.

Having said that, asthma in cats is treatable with a little extra care from pet parents and the proper medications. You can help your asthmatic cat live a happy life for many years by monitoring his or her respiratory effort, keeping an eye out for coughing, and intervening with medication as needed.

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 showing signs of asthma, contact Park Animal Hospital today. Our compassionate vets are here to help your cat.