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in cats is also called allergic airway disease or allergic
bronchial disease. The two main changes that occur are:
of the airway tubes (bronchi); and
(narrowing) of these airways.
The main signs
cats show can be coughing or wheezing, loud breathing
and in severe cases, difficulty breathing. These signs can
be caused by other conditions such as heart disease, chest
infections and even cancers so itís important for a proper
diagnosis to make sure of the cause.
Testing for asthma
in people usually focuses on blowing into a Ďpeak flow meterí
which checks mostly the degree of narrowing of the airways. Of
course, this isnít practical for cats so we reach a diagnosis
by confirming there is airway inflammation (with radiographs)
and finding out what that inflammation is due to with a
Asthma is a
condition that we manage, as opposed to fully treat, so cats
usually need lifelong medicating to some degree. The
treatments are to:
the inflammation (with cortisone type medications); and
up the airways (bronchodilators).
Treatments can be
given orally but it is better to aim the treatments at the airways
specifically with inhaled medications. We use puffers just
like those used in people! Cats canít be taught to
take a deep breath from the puffer as people can, so we use a
Ďbreathing chamberí the same as those used for asthmatic
children (who also canít take deep breaths). Many cats can have a
secondary infection to their asthma and will usually need an
initial course of antibiotics, also.
Just like people, signs can be worsened by exposure to pollens or
fumes such as cigarette smoke, incense or powdered carpet
With regular treatment, many cats can lead normal lives but some
occasionally have flare-ups at certain times of the year.
IMPORTANT: If your cat is showing any signs of breathing
difficulty, seek IMMEDIATE veterinary attention.
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