Asthma In Cats

It is not uncommon for some Cats suffer from cat asthma (or feline asthma), caused by inflammation of the bronchi due to an allergy . Cats of all ages and breeds can suffer from asthma, there are no exceptions. However, Siamese cats are the most affected.   

When they have asthma, cats tend to have a dry cough. This disease should not be underestimated and should be treated properly in order to protect your cat.  

How does asthma develop in cats?

Allergies can appear spontaneously in cats. Dust mites, pollen or scented cat litter can cause an immediate allergy and therefore cause asthma in cats:  

During the first contact with allergens (eg pollen), the immune system releases substances leading to the formation of antibodies. These then attach to certain immune cells (eg granulocyte) and thus become cellular antibodies. So if your cat comes into contact with the allergen again , a  bond  will form between the cellular antibodies and the allergens. This will result in a massive release of inflammation mediators (eg: histamine, prostaglandins) in immune cells. These mediators   then cause a narrowing of the bronchi (asthma):     

  • The bronchi contract 
  • Inflammatory fluid forms 
  • Strong growth of muscle and epithelial cells of bronchial structures is observed  
  • Body tissue turns into fibrous tissue (fibrosis) 

How to recognize asthma in cats?

Feline asthma manifests itself within seconds / minutes. The frequency at which the cat exhibits allergic symptoms depends on the frequency of contact with the antigen. If the latter is present in the daily environment of the cat, asthma is more likely to be chronic than acute. Cats with asthma may exhibit the following symptoms:    

  • A dry cough and possible  shortness of breath  (breathing through the mouth) 
  • The cat is weak and reluctant to move 
  • Redness, swelling and possibly dander formation on the skin and mucous membranes 
  • Increased itching 
  • Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, asthma can cause anaphylactic shock that can be life threatening to the cat 
asthma in cats

How to diagnose asthma in cats?

If your cat has any of the symptoms described above, see a veterinarian  who  can then help your cat breathe better by administering oxygen. 

The diagnosis of asthma in cats is usually made after a detailed examination of the airways: 

After a brief external examination, there is often abdominal breathing and, in more severe cases, mouth breathing. Examination of the mucous membranes (eg in the mouth) helps to establish the diagnosis because a bluish color indicates a lack of oxygen. Afterwards, a blood test may be done to see the level of granulocytes (immune cells). If these  recent  increases in the blood, this can be a sign of allergy or parasite infestation. To assess the condition of the  lungs  and surrounding tissue, an X-ray examination is necessary.     

Thanks to bronchoalveolar lavage (to sample the alveolar space) a cytological examination can be performed in cats with asthma. Again, if the level of granulocytes increases, it  means  that the cat has asthma. Unfortunately, detecting the causative antigen is often difficult since the cause of cat asthma is difficult to find. It is therefore necessary to eliminate one by one possible allergens such as   scented litter from the cat’s environment until the cause of the disease is found. 

How to treat asthma in cats?

Feline asthma can be chronic or acute. The treatments then differ: 

  • Acute asthma: severe allergic reactions require prompt interventions such as administration of oxygen and bronchodilators. The cat will then have to stay a little while under veterinary observation to ensure that the treatment is working.  
  • Asthma  Chronic  : tablets or inhalers sprays can be administered in accordance with the vet to calm asthma. 

What’s the prognosis?

The prognosis was Cat theme can not be generalized. Many Cats show only mild symptoms throughout their lives, while others are prone to severe asthma attacks. It is therefore important to consult a veterinarian in order to have an appropriate treatment.  

Can we prevent feline asthma?

Allergies arise from  so  spontaneous and can not always be avoided. However, if the allergen is quickly identified  (such as scented litter boxes for example) , your cat will quickly recover.   

You now know all the symptoms of asthma in cats. If in doubt, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian . 


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