Feline Asthma

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Is your beloved furbaby wheezing, coughing and hacking? Perhaps after playing with another companion animal, being scared or chasing a bug? Have you ruled out hairballs, yet the problem persists? Issues affecting the respiratory tract is a very serious situation that needs to be addressed pretty quickly. After all, breathing is a very important function for any living thing. Any impairment could pose some serious and very life threatening concerns.

Feline Bronchitis is typically the correct term for any coughing or other breathing impairment that is the result of inflammation in the lower respiratory tract. Asthma is a form of this type of inflammation (1, 2).

Simply put this type of breathing difficulty is defined by:

-Hypersensitive response to a variety of stimuli

-Tightening or narrowing of the airways that can be corrected (3)

-Identification of inflammatory cells in the respiratory tract (1)

Coughing is not seen as often in illness and disease when it comes to our feline friends. A true cough will be noted by a hunched position with an extension of the neck. At times wheezing may be present as well. The cough which is typically dry sounding and may be accompanied by gagging, often continues for longer than a month. Signs and symptoms of asthma come and go as well as its frequency and duration. It can sound identical to the cough caused by a hairball (4, 5). As time passes you may notice your feline friend exerting less energy and their gums and/or tongue may exhibit a blue or purple color indicating more restrictive oxygen intake (1, 6). On the more technical side, Asthma is triggered first when your cat breaths in the particle that causes an allergic response. The body then has a blood protein known as an antibody to identify and fight the foreign body. Any encounter causes immune cells to come to the rescue. In order to tell the body there is a problem the immune cells signal other cells to illicit a reaction such as constricting the airways. Mucus may also build up here as well. Mucus can obstruct the airways which unfortunately can lead to a secondary infection. In addition when the airways are constricted air can be trapped in the alveoli (small channels in the lungs). This can result in the lungs being over extended. With the lungs overworking past its normal function, damage can occur leading to long term adverse effects