Feline asthma is basically the same disease as human asthma: a chronic inflammation in the small passageways in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. The symptoms vary from cat to cat, depending on the severity of the asthma and can range from mild wheezing to choking, gagging and coughing.
Asthma cats have difficulty drawing a deep breath. Coughing that looks like your kitty is hacking up a hairball is a common symptom, often with shoulders hunched and neck extended.
What Causes an Asthma Attack?
Symptoms are often seen after exertion or exercise and as a response to stress. Sometimes changes in the weather can bring about an asthma attack, as can new furniture or anything new and ‘smelly’. Some cats show no signs of asthma at all, but suddenly are unable to breathe. This sudden blockage of the airways can occur for no apparent reason or can be a reaction to certain environmental factors.
The normal rate of breathing for a sleeping or resting cat is 24 – 30 breaths per minute. Snoring or loud breathing while sleeping is not necessarily a sign of asthma, but rapid breathing above 40 breaths per minute could be a serious issue.
How can I tell if my Cat is Having an Asthma Attack?
A cat having a full blown asthma attack will be unable to do anything as he will be literally fighting for air. Breathing becomes very laboured and his sides will heave in and out while trying to catch a breath. In extreme cases (which I can say from experience are very frightening) your cat may start panting, look frightened, cough up mucus and even drool. Obviously, any difficulty in breathing is life threatening to your cat and you should call your vet immediately.
Common Symptoms to Watch Out For:
- Persistent cough
- Rapid breathing or open mouth breathing
- Gagging up foamy mucus
- Poor appetite
- Blue lips and gums
Symptoms of asthma in cats vary in intensity and should always be taken seriously. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, breathing difficulties are life threatening and very frightening for your cat. If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned above please visit your vet immediately.
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