My Savannah Cat Has Asthma

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??


Hi Kathy…
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.


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Comments for
My Savannah Cat Has Asthma

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Mar 26, 2012 what Ive tried NEW
by: kathy W

I have air cleaning machines in both rooms of the house both have hepa filters. It seems she got worse right when the weather changed and it got warmer outside. Weve had the windows open so she gets plenty of freah air. She loves to sit in the window. Ive switched to only one or two cleaners. One is an arm and hammer product that makes baking soda. The other is an odor and sanitizer. The smell of it is very low. Like I said Im using an allergen remover on my carpet every few weeks. My boyfriend has allergies which is why we have the clean air machines. I keep the filters clean and I have a very powerful vacum. Its an Eureka that is supposed to clean better than the Dyson, whick is very expenbsive. I swear it sucks up every little particle. I also keep it clean every time I use it. I would definitly like to check with a holistic vet but I dont think theres any around here where I live. I change the filters on the air machines regularly because with six cats they are constantly full of hair. Thank you for all the comments. I will be taking her to the vets next pay check and Ill let everyone know what they suggest. Im very worried shell have a hard time breathing when the kittens begin to grow in her.

Mar 26, 2012 Get a Rainbow Vacuuum Cleaner NEW
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

We have a Rainbow vacuum. The newer models function as an air purifier on the low setting. The dirt is sucked into a bowl of water, the theory being wet dust can’t fly. It has a HEPA filter also. Monty loves ours. When we run it in our room at night as an air cleaner he sleeps right by it. He seems to like to be by it. The air smells so fresh coming out of it and it acts as a humidifier to a small extent. I have allergies, and the Rainbow really helps. That’s how we ended up buying our first one– the salesperson turned it on and suddenly I could breathe through my nose. That was before we had Monty. I probably couldn’t have a cat without the Rainbow. My sister has our old one upstairs. She is highly allergic to cats, yet is able to have a cat up there by using the Rainbow frequently. It’s powerful enough to suck up cat hair and just running it sucks allergens out of the air. I dump out the bowl of water in the back corner of the yard. Having to empty the water bowl is a downside, but the results are worth the hassle. Rainbows have been around a long time– a motel I cleaned for in the 1980’s had one. They are pricey, but I think worth it for anyone (animal or human) who has allergies. You can find used Rainbows around and they are cheaper by quite a lot. Once you buy one the company gives huge discounts if you ever want to upgrade to a newer model. So it’s an expense, but I know people who have spent more money on home entertainment systems– and what’s really more important?

Mar 25, 2012 Cats develop serious allergies, asthma !! NEW
by: Anonymous

So sorry about your baby developing Asthma, if she an outdoor kitty that may be a huge problem complicating recovery, as your vet pointed out she seems to be sensitive to household cleaners, I’m not surprised at all, those chemicals, perfumes & more can make us very ill.
Please have her seen by a holistic vet, its truly amazing what the can do for our pets, her breathing problems might affect her soon to be babies.
After a car serious car crash (other driver going 75 in 30 mile zone) I developed serious breathing problems, drs said it was asthma others COPD, being a diabetic & knowing side effects from steroids I refuse to take them. Had to change all household cleaners nothing with perfume or chemicals. Green is the only & best way.
Wish you & your cat the best.
Decades long cat lover/rescuer/helper
Southeast arizona

Mar 25, 2012 Simple But Hard To Find? NEW
by: Anonymous

I would also change the cleaners you use. Many of the chemicals are hidden by the added scents. These chemicals are bad for humans & are even worse for pets. Try using apple vinger mixed with water to use on your carpets. Baking soda, lemons, plant based cleaners are great too. You can search on line on mix amounts also. Are you using flea meds? Flea collars & even collars can harbor chemicals that can affect breathing. …. My story; my mom smoked her self to death, but it took 20 yrs of slow decline with empahzima & one lung died & a tumor in the other. She got to the point that you had to mop with only water because the odor alone would make her stop breathing. …. Could the air be to dry? Have you tried keeping her in just certain rooms to see if that helps? Because even our pet foods are not watched or regulated, there could be a problem too! It could also be from being to hot as well. A open window in a room? Try a few things & check to see how she is doing. A lot of times a problem can turn out to be pretty small. It is finding it that is the hardest of all!

Good Luck, Christina

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