Cats can get asthma

Q: My neighbor was just telling me that her cat has asthma and uses an inhaler. Seriously, I have never heard of this before! Is she telling the truth? P.L., Farragut

A: Yes, absolutely cats can get asthma. And among several other treatment options, cats can use an inhaler!

With asthma, the lung’s airways constrict with inflammation. This can cause wheezing, coughing, and mild to severe difficulty breathing. Diagnosis is made with physical exams, history and chest X-rays.

Cats can present in acute respiratory distress, similar to humans. In these cases, cats should be taken in the veterinarian as soon as possible, so that injectable emergency medications can be given (and oxygen if necessary).

Therapies for asthmatic cats include long term medications to decrease and control the inflammation and prevent the emergency “asthma attack.” These medications may include steroids, bronchodilators, and inhalers.

At home, cats will do best if there is not cigarette or cigar smoke. Also recommended is dust-free litter, minimizing sprays/chemicals, and regularly changing the air filters. If your cat is outdoors, minimize their outdoor time when we have those ‘air quality alert‘ days in East Tennessee.

By finding the ideal medicatin regimen and incorporating environmental changes, most cats do well and can live fairly normal lives.

If you have questions about your pet, you may email Dr. Myers at