Asthma and corticosteroid use for cats

By Tess Thompson

Asthma in cats is a common bronchial disorder, often caused by inhaled allergens. It is difficult to ascertain which particular substance produces the distinctive symptoms of wheezing and coughing that are characteristic of asthma. During an asthma attack, the muscles near the trachea contract which causes great difficulty in breathing.

Your pet cat could be allergic to anything around her. This includes pollen, smoke, deodorants, perfumes, flea sprays, or even the dust from the litter box.

If you hear you cat wheezing and/or coughing, it is recommended that other disorders like hairballs, congestive heart disease, and pneumonia be ruled out. This is essential since asthma can easily be confused with any one of these other conditions. Hairballs that accumulate in the alimentary canal cause symptoms like wheezing. Pneumonia and congestive heart disease also produce symptoms that are similar to asthma.

To confirm whether your feline friend has a bronchial infection or a lung inflammation, chest X-Rays and blood tests can be conducted to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a sample of cells needs to be taken from the bronchial or tracheal passage to establish what is affecting the area.

Asthma in cats advances in severity over time and is not fully curable. It can be managed with medication, but it is difficult to eliminate. However, veterinarians try to control the symptoms using the following:

  • Inhalers: A device that sprays a synthetic hormone, corticosteroid, into the air passage.
  • Bronchodilators: Drugs that relax and dilate the bronchial passageways and improve the flow of air into the lungs.
  • Oral drug therapy: The pill version of a corticosteroid, such as prednisone.

Administration of corticosteroids needs to be monitored by a specialist because unrestricted use can lead to excess hormones being ingested. This can cause Cushing’s disease in cats. Cushing’s disease is a glandular disorder caused by abnormally high levels of the hormone, ACTH. Even though Cushing’s disease in cats is less common than Cushing’s disease in dogs, the need to monitor the hormone levels and control medication is essential.

Hyperadrenocorticism in dogs, another name for Cushing’s disease, is a common occurrence in geriatric dogs. It is more often seen in cats that are diabetic and have a resistance to insulin.

Cushing’s disease and asthma in cats are not curable disorders. Prevention is the only way to avoid complicated treatments later.


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