According to the Cornell University Feline Health Center, up to 5% of cats suffer from feline asthma. Feline asthma is caused by an allergic reaction to inhaled particles, called allergens. The immune system of a cat susceptible to allergens will trigger an inflammation of the airways, leading to breathing difficulties.
What are the symptoms of feline asthma? An asthmatic cat can have labored, open-mouthed, or rapid breathing, wheezing, coughing, and even vomiting. Cats with breathing issues will often sit in a crouched position, extending their head and neck forward while coughing or wheezing.
To diagnose feline asthma, your vet may take a sample of your cat’s blood and airway secretions. Allergy tests can also be performed on cats. X-rays and other types of scans can also detect airway changes associated with asthma. A bronchoscope can be inserted into your cat’s lungs while she’s under anesthesia and show your vet images of the airway linings.
Your vet may prescribe steroid medications to reduce inflammation in your cat’s lungs. There are even inhalers (called bronchodilators) specifically made for cats. You can also try air purifiers at home, and be sure to never expose any cat to secondhand smoke.
Feline asthma tends to be a chronic condition, but you can successfully manage your cat’s symptoms during any flare-ups she might experience.