It may come as a surprise to learn that like people, cats can suffer from asthma, and for many of the same reasons. Check out the symptoms below to learn whether your cat may be having an asthma attack, and what you should do if your cat has asthma.

What do cat asthma attacks look like?

Coughing and wheezing are the first signs of asthma in cats, but if your cat is having an asthma attack, you may notice that they hunch close to the ground with their neck extended forward as if trying to expel a hairball. If your cat is suffering from severe asthma, you will notice his or her sides going in and out as they work hard to breathe, and your cat may even start coughing up mucus or drooling.

Can my cat have an asthma attack while sleeping?

Cats with asthma may also experience difficulties breathing while sleeping. A healthy cat should take between 24 - 30 breaths per minute while at rest. If your kitty is taking more than 40 breaths per minute contact your vet immediately for assistance, or take your pet to the nearest animal emergency hospital for urgent care. That said, pet parents should note that snoring or breathing loudly when resting isn't necessarily a sign that your cat is having an asthma attack. 

If you are concerned about your cat's breathing whether awake or asleep contact your vet for further advice. When it comes to your feline friend's health, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

How can I tell if my cat is having an asthma attack?

If your kitty is displaying any of the following symptoms it may be experiencing an asthma attack.

  • Difficulty breathing (open-mouth breathing)
  • Hunched body with neck extended
  • Drooling
  • Persistent coughing or gagging
  • Overall weakness
  • Gurgling sounds from the throat
  • Increased effort to breathe
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blue gums and lips
  • Frothy mucus while coughing
  • Increased swallowing

What causes cats to have asthma attacks?

As with humans, allergen inhalation can trigger asthma attacks in cats. Pollen, grass, dust mites, mold, household cleaning products, cigarette smoke, cat litter dust, and various foods are examples of allergens that can cause asthma attacks in cats. Breathing difficulties in cats can be caused by underlying conditions such as pneumonia, stress, obesity, parasites, genetic predispositions, or pre-existing heart conditions.

What are the most common cat asthma treatments?

If your cat is having trouble breathing, it is critical to determine the cause. A number of serious medical conditions could be causing your cat's asthma. Once your cat has been diagnosed with asthma, treatment may include corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and a bronchodilator to help dilate their airways. Asthma medication for cats can be prescribed in the form of an injectable, oral medication, or an inhaler equipped with a cat-specific mask.

What is the life expectancy for cats with asthma?

Asthma in cats is frequently a progressive disease, which means that even with treatment, cats with asthma are likely to have periodic flare-ups ranging in severity from mild to life-threatening. Having said that, asthma in cats is manageable with the right medications and a little extra attention from pet parents. You can help your cat live a happy and comfortable life for many years to come by monitoring his or her respiratory effort, keeping an eye out for asthma symptoms, and intervening with medication as needed.

Can changing my cat's diet help prevent asthma?

If you believe that your cat's asthma attacks may be due to a food allergy, contact your vet for advice on the best food for your pet and to arrange for allergy testing to help pinpoint your cat's food sensitivities.

Helping your cat maintain a healthy weight while meeting all of their nutritional needs is an excellent way for pet parents to help their pet feel their best. Your veterinarian can assist you in calculating your cat's caloric requirements so you know exactly how much you should feed your cat each day.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat having difficulty breathing? Contact our emergency vets, at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital right away!