Feline asthma is most commonly diagnosed respiratory disorder in young to middle-aged cats. Symptoms can include chronic cough and trouble breathing. Treatment options are aimed at controlling airway inflammation and reducing or preventing episodes of respiratory distress.
Diagnosing Feline Asthma
Accurate diagnosis of feline asthma can be challenging because the symptoms may overlap with chronic bronchitis, heartworm-related respiratory disease, and other lung conditions. Definitive diagnosis is achieved through observing clinical signs, physical exam, x-rays and other lab tests.
In a patient with feline asthma, an x-ray may reveal evidence of disease, but as much as 23% of cats with asthma will have a normal thoracic x-ray. And, because of asthma’s intermittent nature, the physical exam may not show anything abnormal. It’s like when you take your car to the mechanic and it won’t make that sound it’s been making for the last 3 weeks!
Be sure to give the vet a good description of your cat’s signs, taking note of the sound it makes (record it!) and when it happens. Are there foods that make it worse, does it get worse if your cat goes outside? All of this information may be helpful for the veterinarian.
Treating Feline Asthma
As with asthma in humans, treatment is focused on managing both acute attacks and preventing the inflammation that causes the cough and trouble breathing.
Acute asthma management is focused on quickly stabilizing the cat during an episode of respiratory distress, by minimizing stress, providing oxygen and dilating the bronchioles to improve breathing. Understanding the pattern of respiratory distress can help your veterinarian provide early intervention treatments, like Prednisolone or other steroids. Often, it is easier to use an injectable therapy because it can be difficult to have your cat use an inhaler when he or she is having trouble breathing. Well let’s be honest, getting your cat to use an inhaler at any time may be difficult!
Managing chronic asthma in cats is focused on reducing inflammation in the lungs and reducing bronchoconstriction. Minimizing exposure to allergens and environmental irritants can help reduce some of the airway constriction. Oral Prednisolone and inhaled steroids are often used, but bronchodilators such as Terbutaline and Theophylline are often added when the condition is chronic.
Feline asthma is one common reason for persistent coughing in cats. It can be difficult to diagnose and treat, but once the proper treatment is found, symptoms are usually well managed. To help cats with asthma feel better, The Compounding Center is pleased to create Prednisolone, Terbutaline, and Theophylline in a variety of flavors and dosage forms that are popular with felines. We have liquid suspensions (bacon or chicken flavor – yum!), mini-tablets, capsules and chewy vet treats. Sometimes, getting the drug into the cat is the hardest part of treatment; let us know how we can help.