Asthma is a relatively common disorder in cats, but watching your pet suffer an episode is still often a frightening and upsetting experience. Typically characterized by wheezing and difficulty breathing, feline asthma, like human asthma, is an allergic reaction that can be triggered by many environmental factors from pollen to your common household cleaning chemicals. Because it is often nearly impossible to identify and then restrict access to the exact cause of your cat's asthma, understanding its symptoms and how to respond to them becomes even more important to improve your pet's daily quality of life.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Feline Asthma
Asthmatic cats appear to experience similar attacks as asthmatic humans. During an attack, your cat may lie on the floor panting in an attempt to get more air or sit hunched over while wheezing. Sometimes, coughing and gagging can occur as well, and your cat may vomit up foam. These attacks vary in severity and can easily be mistaken with or become an actual medical emergency, so when in doubt, take your cat to your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Doing so will, if nothing else, allow the attack to play out in a safe and controlled environment should anything go wrong.
Making Your Cat Comfortable
If you do not choose to bring your cat into the vet initially, the best you can do for your pet is ensure that he or she is comfortable and monitor the situation as it develops. If your cat appears to be struggling to get oxygen, or the nose and gums turn a pale, bluish color, you must head to an animal hospital right away to keep the airways open and potentially save your pet's life. As long as the attack is still allowing air through, however, it should resolve itself without any lasting damage. No matter how mild or strong this episode is, it is still vital that you visit a veterinarian at the first opportunity.
Working Out a Long-Term Treatment Plan
Your veterinarian will, in all likelihood, attempt to pin down the cause of your cat's allergies in the hope that the allergens can simply be removed from your home. Often, however, the offending item is something like dust or pollen, which cannot be controlled. In these cases, it may be necessary to manage your cat's asthma through medication. These prescriptions are usually designed to suppress unwanted immune responses while preventing inflammation in your pet's airways, and they may be administered through a special feline inhaler. Asthma in cats can be persistent, distressing and even life-threatening, but with careful attention and a little maintenance, you can keep your pet safe and comfortable even during peak allergy season.
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