Breathing problems are serious, but when your cat has asthma, you have to keep a close eye on the condition so it doesn't become life threatening. Many pet owners don't realize that their cats can even get asthma, so they often miss the symptoms until they get really bad. If you've noticed that your cat seems a little off or ill and has chronic trouble breathing, then it could be asthma. Here are some signs and symptoms of the disease and what you can do to make it easier for your cat to breathe.
The most common asthma symptom is that your cat will seem to be struggling to get a breath. He will pant or cough and often breathe through is mouth at an elevated rate even when it's not hot. He may tire out with only minor exercise. Some cats will seem more lethargic and not have much of an appetite. When your cat is having a severe attack, he will likely be hunched over and his lips and tongue may appear a pale blue. When this happens, you cat will need immediate emergency treatment.
Like human asthma, cat asthma is mostly triggered by allergens, exercise and even stress. It can be triggered by environmental triggers such as smoke and cold or dry air. Very rarely will the cause be a lung parasite. Your veterinarian will need to do x-rays and blood tests to rule out other issues. It is unknown why some cats have the condition while most cats don't and any age or gender has almost an equal chance. There may be a genetic or environmental component, but more research is needed.
Fortunately, feline asthma is manageable through lifestyle changes and medication. Your veterinarian will need to perform tests to figure out what substances your cat is allergic to. Then, you will need to limit your cat's exposure to those things. Corticosteroids and other medications to open up the airways will likely be given at the office and prescribed for long-term, continuous home use. Humidifiers and vitamins and supplements may also help to reduce symptoms.
While asthma in cats is uncommon, it can be very serious. Any time it appears that your cat is having trouble breathing, you should take him to an animal hospital. Treatment may mean that you have to make lifestyle changes, including eliminating cigarette smoke and changing chemical uses in the home. Your veterinarian will help you with therapy options and how to administer allergy medications so your cat can live a normal life with minimal problems. Contact a hospital, like Center-Sinai Animal Hospital, for more help.