Veterinarian Offers Advice on Cat Asthma

Asthma is a life-changing condition that affects more than 25 million people in the U.S. alone, and results in more than 1IMG_9191.web4 million visits to clinics a year. What may be surprising though, is that if you’re a cat owner, your pet may be suffering too, and you may not know it.

“Sometime the symptoms are similar to normal things cats do: coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing and vomiting,” said Dr. Tekla Lee-Fowler, an assistant professor of small animal internal medicine at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, whose research focus is feline asthma. “These are things we associate with hairballs. The problem is, these are also the common symptoms of asthma.”

While May is Asthma Awareness Month for humans, Lee-Fowler it’s a good time to also remember animal companions, in particular, cats, which are susceptible to asthma.

“There is no official diagnosis for asthma in dogs. Cats are by far the most common companion animal that get asthma,” Dr. Lee-Fowler said.

Dr. Lee-Fowler advises to consult your veterinarian if you notice any symptoms with your pet. Veterinarians diagnose asthma through a combination of clinical signs, radiographs, evaluating inflammatory cells in the airway and eliminating other potential causes of symptoms, such as heartworm.

Once your pet is diagnosed with asthma, veterinarians can work to ease their asthma through corticosteroid, and other treatments focused on treating the underlying airway inflammation that results from asthma.

Treatment doesn’t end with your veterinarian, though. Owners have a role to play in easing the animal’s symptoms. If the owner smokes, you should do so outside the home and avoid aerosols sprays in your home. Homeowners should also change air filters regularly, and use dustless litter.

Asthma has the potential to make a cat’s life miserable, potentially shortening the life of your companion animal.