While cats may develop a cough from bronchitis, lungworms, and other illnesses, some cats may develop a chronic cough from asthma. Feline asthma is a condition where a cat's airways become narrow and inflamed, making it difficult for them to breathe. If your cat has been coughing often with no signs of improvement, you may want to look into feline asthma and how to treat it.
What are the Signs of Asthma?
When an asthma attack occurs, many cats crouch low to the ground and extend their necks forward. Besides wheezing, a cat may breathe through the mouth, have pale gums/lips, and breathe rapidly.
Sometimes feline asthma goes unnoticed because owners may assume that their cat is producing a hairball. However, hairballs don't just affect the lungs; hairballs form in the digestive tract after frequent grooming. Once a cat throws up a hairball, they should not experience any more coughing. Cats with asthma may have continuous coughing bouts, and they won't throw up a hairball.
How Can You Get Your Cat Diagnosed?
You'll want to visit an animal care hospital to get your cat diagnosed. If the veterinarian suspects asthma, they can order imaging tests and blood tests. Imaging tests, like x-rays, can reveal inflammatory cells which could be causing asthma. In some cases, a vet may order a bronchoscopy, which is a small narrow instrument and camera that passes through the airway to collect cells. If your vet orders bloodwork, they can rule out other conditions, such as allergies to dust, pollen, etc. If your vet diagnoses your cat with asthma, the good news is that there are a few treatment options that can manage the symptoms.
How is Feline Asthma Treated?
Your veterinarian may prescribe your cat a corticosteroid, which can reduce inflammation in the lungs. This medication can be inhaled with a specialized inhaler made for pets. But if your cat is uncomfortable with inhalers, then injectable and oral forms are also available.
Even if your cat doesn't have allergies, you can reduce their asthma attacks by making a few changes at home. For instance, you can reduce asthma attacks by using dust-free cat litter and avoiding scented household cleaners. You may need to use a HEPA filter or vacuum/dust more often to reduce your cat's symptoms.
Some cats develop asthma due to food allergies to soy, fish, corn, or beef. If your cat's symptoms tend to flare up around mealtimes, your vet can prescribe a specialized diet. Your vet may also recommend supplements, like omega-3 fatty acid-luteolin.
Reach out to an animal care hospital today for more information.