In the Canberra and Queanbeyan region, we often see cats suffering from asthma. The major symptom is very similar to that seen in humans — difficulty breathing, Cats with asthma may also “wheeze” and can have a cough that sometimes sounds like gagging. In severe cases, cats may sit with their necks extended, panting with their mouths open.

The signs of feline asthma can come on quite suddenly and can be very serious — and frightening to observe. An asthmatic person may panic when they feel as if they can’t breathe, and the same may be true for your cat. Do all you can to minimize stress when your cat is having a hard time breathing. The best way to do so is by not creating stress; now is not the time to be chasing your pet and forcing him into a carrier. Let him calm down first. However, if your cat is open-mouth panting, using excessive abdominal force to breathe, or if his tongue, gums or lips are turning bluish, this is a medical emergency. Please call us for advice immediately.

What to Do If Your Cat Has an Asthma Attack

If your cat experiences another such incident, get him as calm as you can and take him to the vet hospital. Call ahead so that we can be prepared for your arrival.

Cats having difficulty breathing are quite fragile, and too much handling can worsen their condition to the point where they may even die. As much all of us want to know the exact cause of the problem and begin treating it immediately, often the best thing for us to do is to quickly rule out any obvious problems, such as obstruction of the airway or air or fluid around the lungs, and avoid significant handling while giving medications and time a chance to work. In more serious cases, cats may need to be given additional oxygen by face mask or oxygen cage until they are more stable and better able to tolerate further treatment or diagnostics.

Caring for Your Asthmatic Cat

If we diagnose asthma in your cat, they will likely be prescribed medications to help ease the symptoms. Whenever your cat is having breathing problems, give him the medication if you can do so without stressing him further; otherwise, wait for him to settle down. Use the time to call us and discuss the symptoms and whether your cat needs to come in for intensive treatment.

Home care is mostly about prevention: Minimizing exposure to dust, smoke, aerosol sprays and other irritants is essential; use low-dust litter and leave the litterbox hood off. Keep your ears and eyes open and stay in close contact with us so that you can get the newest information relating to the cause, prevention and treatment of feline asthma. Caring for an asthmatic cat is not a do-it-yourself project; we need to work closely together to help your precious cat stay healthy.