Did you know that cats can have asthma too?  According to an article published by Cornell University, there are roughly 80 million cats living in American homes today, and of those, about 800,000 are living with feline asthma.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this uncomfortable condition.  However, for cats who are living with feline asthma, identifying the signs and symptoms of the disease is the first step toward a happier and healthier life.  Here’s a brief overview for signs that your beloved kitty may be suffering from feline asthma:

  • Coughing and wheezing (oftentimes, this is the most obvious and persistent symptom of feline asthma)
  • Open mouth breathing, which may occur during times of rest, heightened stress, or increased activity
  • Blue lips and gums during the aforementioned times of labored breathing

There are other signs that may suggest that your pet should be evaluated by a veterinarian for feline asthma, but these are the most common symptoms that you should look for if you suspect that your cat may have this condition.  Of course, whether or not asthma is the underlying cause, any signs that your pet is having difficulty breathing should be reported to his or her vet immediately.

Just as it is with humans, we are not entirely certain of the causes of feline asthma.  However, years of clinical and anecdotal evidence has taught us that there are certain risk factors and triggers that may exacerbate the condition.  For example, severely obese cats are more likely to be asthmatic than cats of a healthy weight.  Extreme and constant stress has also been identified as a risk factor for triggering attacks, as well as frequent exposure to inhaled allergens (such as perfumes, dust from cat litter, molds, tree pollen, smoke, etc).

Statistically speaking, female cats tend to have a higher occurrence of asthma than males, and there is also a pattern that may be seen in certain breeds.  For example, Himalayan cats seem to be diagnosed with asthma more frequently than most other breeds.

Signs of feline asthma often become most noticeable in cats around age 2 or 3, but in some cases, first onset has been seen as late as 8 or 9 years of age.

The only way to know if your cat has feline asthma is to speak with your veterinarian about his or her symptoms.  The doctor will want to know about the nature of the symptoms, including their frequency, so be sure that you make notes about everything that your cat is experiencing.  Your veterinarian will suggest appropriate tests and procedure, and if it is found that your cat does have feline asthma, he or she will make recommendations for the best approach to treating and managing the disease.

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