by Kathy W
(Ingleside, Il, USA)
My purebred Savannah cat Aurora recently was diagnosed as having asthma. The vet said she had little white spots on the x-ray. She said treatment for it would be steroids, which she didn’t want to give her because of the damage they can cause, or a nebulizer.
She gave her antibiotics and she was OK for a while. Now, 2 days ago she seemed to have what probably was an asthma attack.
She seemed to be gasping for air and now she seems to be wheezing a little bit when she breathes. My biggest concern is that she is pregnant. I never would have allowed this if I thought the asthma was still going to be a problem.
The vet said it was probably caused by my use of household cleaners. I will be taking her back to the vets because now I’m scared.
She’s my baby and I don’t want anything to happen to her. I’m afraid maybe the fact that she’s pregnant may have caused the asthma to come back or to act up.
I use a carpet cleaner for allergies regularly on my carpet. I’m careful what household cleansers I use. Any suggestions as to any thing I could be doing to help her??
Feline asthma is a hypersensitivity to allergens in the environment as you are aware. White spots in a lung X-ray can be caused by many things apparently. I presume the diagnosis of asthma is correct.
Some carpet deodorisers can trigger asthma including various other sprays.
A severe asthma attack has similar symptoms to pleural effusion and pulmonary edema. I am not suggesting anything just making the answer more complete.
It seems that the treatment is regular doses of oral corticosteroids given every other day to avoid dependency. Sometimes the drug can be tapered off. Sometimes attacks might be seasonal (allergen in certain pollens in the air).
Inhalers are used such as AeroKat® (this is apparently a good treatment). Antibiotics are rarely required unless the cat also suffers from Mycoplasma infection.
The obvious preventative action is to minimize your cat’s exposure to the allergens that cause the asthma attacks. That requires trying to find out what the allergens are. I don’t know if that can be achieved but it seems to be nearly impossible. Possible allergens in addition to the ones mentioned above are: cigarette smoke (does someone smoke in the house?), hair sprays, fireplace smoke/soot, dust from the litter (change litter to low dust variety or go to toilet outside?). Perhaps some time outside might help (on leash) although it might hinder if the allergen is pollen. It might be worth testing that, though.
Another fairly obvious help might be to install a high quality air purifier with a HEPA filter in the house. That might help the humans as well.
I am like you, I don’t like the idea of giving a cat steroids on a long term basis. It is a treatment of failure really.
If you have to treat her continually, I would have thought that you have to be absolutely sure of the diagnosis. Coughs and wheezing and difficulty breathing can be caused by other things.
For example cats with a chronic cough need to be checked out for a hairball problem. I am not saying that she has a hairball problem by the way. Often misdiagnosis is the other way around: asthma diagnosed as hairballs.
This page: Cat Cough, looks at various causes.
I would look making sure the diagnosis is correct as the consequences are serious and if correct minimize the allergens and the treatment as they are long term or permanent.
Hope this helps.