As with any illness, the goal of treatment is to control the symptoms and allow kitty to live a normal, healthy life. Unfortunately, there is no cure for feline asthma and often specific triggers can not be eliminated or even identified, so ongoing treatment is required.
In an emergency situation where a cat is gasping for air, the vet’s first mission will be to reduce inflammation and help the cat get full, productive breaths. This is usually achieved with an injection of a corticosteroid, which reduces both the swelling deep within the lungs and the production of mucus. In severe cases the use of a bronchodilator to open the airways wider may be required, followed by an oxygen gas to replenish the lungs and get depleted oxygen into the bloodstream.
Once your feline friend has been stabilised and returned home, ongoing treatment will be required to keep inflammation at bay. Depending on the severity of your cat’s condition he will more than likely be treated with a combination of a daily steroid in either pill or inhaled form and a bronchodilator to be used as needed.
Medications for Asthmatic Cats
- Anti-inflammatory drugs – this type of medication is used to reduce the inflammation in kitty’s airways. Corticosteroids such as prednisolone are strong anti-inflammatories and can be administered in pill form, as an injection or inhaled with the use of a spacer device, similar to those used for small children.
- Bronchodilator medications are used to relax the small muscles around the airways, which helps them to dilate. These medications are used in combination with corticosteroids and can be given in the same ways – that is by injection, in pill form or via inhalation.
How on Earth do You Medicate a Cat?
Carefully. Actually, it’s not as hard as you think once you and your purring friend get into a good routine. Giving your cat pills is something you will both have to get used to and the quicker you can do that the better. Inhaled medications are given through a spacer device such as the Aerokat Feline Inhaler. One end of this device is made to fit a human metered dose inhaler (MDI – and yes, surprise…the puffer you give to your cat is likely to be the same kind given to a human with asthma) and the other end has a little mask that goes over your cat’s face with a valve to allow the cat to breathe in the medication from the chamber. It’s as simple as puffing one or two puffs from the MDI into the chamber, then holding the little face mask over your cat’s little face for about 10-15 seconds, usually twice a day.
As with all things asthma cat related, the key is to know your cat well and stick as closely as you can to a routine. Following instructions from your vet and keeping up to date with regular checkups can help to reduce the severity of your cat’s asthma attacks and keep everybody purring happily in the sunshine.