In winter, it seems as if everybody gets the sniffles at one time or another. Even cats and dogs can get a chill, or contract kennel cough and other common diseases. However, sometimes the wheezy breathing, sputtering and coughing can indicate a much more serious disease than a cold. Feline asthma is believed to affect only 1% of the 80 million domestic cats in America, which means there are still 800,000 cats who suffer from the disease. Asthma can turn into a life-threatening condition, especially if the owner is not aware his cat is afflicted.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

Though any cat might contract asthma, some studies show that adult cats between 2-8 years old are most highly at risk. Many vets believe asthma can occur in felines when the cat has struggled with allergic bronchitis. This diseases is caused by allergens or fluid creating an inflammation of the lungs. Pollutants, pollen, second-hand smoke, allergens and other environmental aspects can also contribute to a cat becoming asthmatic. Though asthma is an incurable disease, many pets are able to live comfortable lives in spite of the ailment, provided they receive the care and treatments that they need.

Asthma Symptoms and Diagnoses

  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Coughing consistently
  • Wheezing or labored breathing
  • Rapid breathing with an extended neck or hunched shoulders
  • Exhaustion and low-energy
  • Disinclination to exercise/jump
  • Lethargy after any physical output
  • Blueish lips/gums (indicating a lack of sufficient oxygen flow)
  • Foamy saliva

It is important to note, that some of these symptoms have also been linked to other respiratory diseases, parasites, heartworms, heart failure, lung cancer, and pneumonia. Since all of these conditions can be dangerous and are worth investigating, it would be advisable to see veterinarian immediately if your cats exhibits several of the symptoms. To diagnose the disease, a vet will use parasite tests, radiographs, blood tests, and may analyze bronchial secretions to rule out any of the above mentioned illnesses. If a cat seems to have none of those conditions, the vet might recommend treatments for asthma to begin.

Resources:
http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/Asthma.cfm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feline_asthma

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