If you didn’t know, yes it’s true, cats can get diagnosed with asthma. Those wheezing and hacking noises you heard your cat make might not always be a fur ball. As a breathing condition, asthma in cats causes discomfort if not treated correctly. So, how can pet parents ensure their cats receive the proper treatment for cat asthma? This post will discuss cat asthma and how to treat it.

What is cat asthma?

Asthma in cats isn't uncommon. Also referred to as feline asthma, this disease is found in up to five percent of the cat population. Yet, what is it, and what causes it? Swollen lungs and narrow airways characterize cat asthma. This breathing condition results in your feline friend having recurrent respiratory problems, e.g., coughing and wheezing.

Many experts believe allergens cause feline asthma—similar to human asthma. Your cat may be reacting to various things in its environment. These can include pollen, insects, dust, dander, and even the household cleaners you use. So, how can you tell if your cat has asthma or allergies?

Asthma in cats does show up slightly differently from typical cat allergies. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it's a good indication they have feline asthma.

  • chronic cough;
  • wheezing;
  • rapid breathing;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • panting;
  • vomiting.

Pet parents who notice these signs, acutely or chronically, must make an emergency vet visit. If untreated for too long, asthma can alter your cat's airways. This leads to chronic coughing and breathing issues.

Asthma in cats: How is it diagnosed?

Your vet will run various diagnostic tests to determine whether it's cat asthma or another illness. Usually, this includes blood tests, a heartworm profile, x-rays, cytology, and a detailed history of your cat's health. In some cases, diagnosis is straightforward. In others, though, more investigation is needed.

Your vet may need to perform a bronchoscopy to see a clear picture of what's happening in your cat's lungs. This involves passing a flexible camera past the cat's mouth into the lung's airways. Additional examinations, such as fecal tests, may also be required.

Best way to treat cat asthma at home

Getting a feline asthma diagnosis can feel scary. But pet parents can easily manage their cats' symptoms at home (under the guidance of their vet). Lifestyle and environmental changes are necessary to reduce your cat's interaction with allergens and triggers. Let's look at how you can manage asthma in cats while at home.

  • Remove dust: If dust mites are a trigger for your cat's asthma, wash their bedding regularly and any other materials they like to rest on. Doing so reduces your cat's risk of having an asthma attack.
  • Supplement their diet: While most cats can eat a regular, balanced diet while having treatment, giving them supplements could be beneficial. It's thought that Omega-3 fatty acids soothe inflammation. Giving your cat a salmon or cod liver oil supplement could ease asthma symptoms.
  • Avoid smoking: Never smoke or vape around a cat with asthma. If you or a guest smokes, make sure this happens outside so your cat's guaranteed to breathe in clean air.
  • Change your household air filter: Regularly changing your house's air filter can also be beneficial. Again, as you're trying to cut down on various triggers in your home, ensure your cat has access to clean, filtered air.

Regarding medication, vets may give your cat anti-inflammatory medications or steroids to manage symptoms. Pet parents must continue with vet-recommended treatment plans even if their cat's showing no signs or symptoms. There could still be an underlying inflammation even if your cat doesn't seem visibly sick.

Pet wellness insurance: Supporting you through cat asthma treatment

A cat wellness plan can benefit parents of cats undergoing feline asthma treatment. While the prognosis is generally good, the ongoing costs of managing asthma in cats can take a toll on your bank balance. With Wagmo's pet wellness insurance, we cover the financial side of treatment so you can focus on keeping your kitty comfortable.

Our pet wellness plans cover the cost of routine pet care, including regular checkups, blood work, fecal tests, vaccinations, and more. Are you interested in learning more? Check out our cat wellness plans or take a quiz to find which plan is right for you.