Feline asthma is an allergen-caused upper respiratory condition that causes distressed breathing. Serious attacks may not happen frequently, which makes it easy to write them off as “just a hairball.” But they can be life-threatening, and a cat in a full-blown attack should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Even a cat showing one or two of the early symptoms should be examined.
How to recognize an asthma attack in your cat
Early symptoms may be difficult to detect. You may hear a faint wheezing, which is more audible after vigorous exercise. Your cat may seem to tire easily. Laboured breathing may proceed a serious attack.
A full-blown asthma attack may at first resemble a cat trying to cough up a hairball, or possibly choking on food. However, the body posture is somewhat different. With asthma, the cat’s body will be hunched lower to the ground and his neck and head will be extended out and down in an effort to clear the airway of mucous.
Allergens that are more likely to trigger an asthma attack in cats
You’ll need to try to eliminate the environmental allergens that are causing respiratory distress in your cat. Some will be easy; others more complicated or expensive.
- Smoke – If you smoke, you’ll need to do it outdoors in the future. Fireplace smoke can also be a problem for asthmatics. Scented candles and plug-in air fresheners are particularly bad for both human and feline asthmatics, as is incense.
- Mildew and Mould – These can exist in homes in any climate. Mould can develop in damp basements, crawl spaces, or in steamy areas like bathrooms. Shower curtains and glass bath enclosures are magnets for mildew. A steam cleaner does a good job of cleaning mould and other allergens from solid surfaces like tile floors, shower enclosures, and walls.
- Dust and Dust Mites – First, step up your use of the vacuum cleaner. Consider replacing curtains with attractive blinds. Think about hardwood floors or tile instead of wall-to-wall carpeting and consider a room purifier in the room your cat most frequently occupies.
- Household Chemicals – Try to keep their use to a minimum including most plug-in air fresheners and stove potpourris, which often cause respiratory distress in cats.
- Pollen – During pollen seasons, keep your windows closed, and keep your cat indoors.
- Cat Litter – Because of the dust that rises from clay litters, most of them are not good for asthmatic cats. Stick with unscented litter, and remember that cats are often fussy about litter changes, so introduce the new litter gradually.