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Feline Asthma and Chronic Bronchitis

Feline Asthma and Chronic Bronchitis
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Cats with asthma or bronchitis can present with signs similar to those seen in people, such as coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing. If you suspect your cat suffers from asthma, or your cat has already been diagnosed then do read on...



  • They can have reversible narrowing of their small airways due to an allergic response to, for example, dust or pollen.
  • In more chronic cases, the airways can become thickened, full of mucus or inflammatory tissue which can become irreversible.
  • Irritants such as cigarette smoke, cat litter dust, perfumes and cleaning sprays may also irritate the narrowed airways and trigger or worsen clinical signs.





  • Cats of any age may be affected but are often seen for the first time in middle age and are often otherwise extremely healthy.
  • Cats may present with bouts of coughing, rapid breathing rate and sometimes severe breathing difficulty (often breathing with their mouth open and elbows held out to the sides).



Diagnosis & Treatment

 Your vet will need to do several tests to diagnose asthma or bronchitis.

  • These tests may need to be delayed if your cat is severely ill and needs emergency stabilisation and medication.
  • Blood tests may help to rule out other internal diseases.
  • X rays (radiographs) of the chest, performed under general anaesthesia, may show airway thickening and other typical radiographic signs.
  • While your cat is anaesthetised your vet may want to perform bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) which is a way of sampling the fluid and cells found deep within the small airways. This may reveal infectious agents (bacteria), parasites, inflammatory cells or other abnormal cells.
  • A bronchoscope (tiny camera) may be used to examine the small airways and sometimes your cat may need to be referred to a specialist vet to make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Please let your vet know if your cat has ever travelled abroad as some extra tests may be required to check for diseases only seen in other countries such as heartworm.



Management of the condition


Management of asthma or chronic bronchitis is likely to involve several approaches.

  • Any potential airway irritants such as smoke and perfumes should be avoided. 
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs will help to reduce airway thickening and inflammation. These may be administered by tablet, injections or via inhalation using human asthma inhalers that can be adapted to use in the cat.
  • Bronchodilators (drugs that expanded the reversibly narrowed airways) can also be helpful and may be given by tablet, liquid, injection or again by inhaler.
  • Your vet will be able to advise you on the best options for you and your cat.
  • If your cat has been diagnosed with asthma or bronchitis you should ensure that medication is given regularly and is not stopped or reduced suddenly as these cats are still at risk of having repeated asthma attacks.


If you have any questions then please do give your local branch a call.


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