Saturday, 18 April 2015

Feline Asthma - Please help Emma find a special home.

Emma was found living rough after being abandoned by her owners. Luckily a kind cat loving couple were looking out for her and brought her here back in January. Unfortunately we have no history about her; while she’s been with us she’s been a sweet friendly girl who enjoys a fuss. She has lost her tail in the past; it doesn’t seem to worry her. During her stay here at the centre, she has been diagnosed with feline asthma by our vet. She’s been using her inhaler twice a day and she’s very good with it. We are looking for a quiet home for Emma with someone who will love her forever and doesn’t mind treating her asthma on a daily basis. She would prefer a home with no children and she’s ok with other cats. We’ve shared some information about Feline Asthma below, if you would like to give Emma a home, please get in touch with us.

Feline asthma is a term used to describe a number of conditions generally affecting the airways in the lungs. It is also known as feline chronic small airway disease, feline bronchitis and allergic airway disease. It occurs when the smooth muscle in the airways contracts, leading to increased production of mucus and inflammation of the airway tissue. As a result, the airways become narrowed and the cat develops difficulty with breathing. It can affect cats of all types and ages but Siamese cats tend to be more commonly affected.

What causes feline asthma?

The exact cause of feline asthma is not completely understood. In some cases it may be an allergic response to an irritant but in others no allergic cause can be found. Possible irritants include pollens, dust, cigarette smoke and some household sprays.

What are the signs?

The signs can vary and include:

 an on-going cough


laboured breathing or respiratory distress occurring suddenly and without warning

increased rate and effort of breathing

Signs can be mild and on-going and may not be noticed by owners for some time – they often come and go.

How is it diagnosed?

Other conditions which may cause similar signs – such as bacterial infections, lungworm or heart disease – should be ruled out before making a diagnosis of asthma. If these are ruled out, further examination will be required. As part of the examination your cat may need to be sedated or anaesthetised. This will allow your vet to take x-rays to look for changes in the airways.

Not all cats show changes so your vet may also suggest passing a tiny camera –called a bronchoscope – down your cat’s windpipe and/or collecting a fluid sample from the airways. These techniques allow your vet to inspect the airways and retrieve fluid to examine under the microscope. This provides useful information on the type and number of inflammatory cells present, which will indicate whether asthma is a likely diagnosis. The fluid collected can also be cultured for bacteria to identify any possible infection.

How is it treated?

Most cats diagnosed with asthma will require treatment to control their coughing and wheezing and prevent permanent, harmful changes occurring within their lungs. If you are aware of an irritant that triggers your cat’s asthma, this should be avoided or attempts made to reduce your cat’s exposure to it. For example, if pollen triggers the asthma, outside access could be limited while pollen levels are at their height. Avoid subjecting the cat to cigarette smoke, household sprays and dusty cat litter where possible.

Treatment may include:

anti-inflammatory drugs in the form of steroids. These can be given in tablet form, by injection or by use of an inhaler. Inhalers that are specifically designed for cats are available and most cats tolerate them well – this may be easier than giving tablets in the long term. Anti-inflammatory drugs help to reduce the inflammation within the airways and help to dissolve mucus

bronchodilators that open up narrowed airways can be used alongside anti-inflammatory drugs. They too can be in the form of tablets, injection or inhalers.

mucolytics can be added to your cat’s food as a powder. They help to break up the mucus which is produced in the airways

What does the future hold?

In the majority of cases feline asthma can be well controlled with appropriate medication and the affected cat will lead a normal healthy life. However, it is important that treatment is started as soon as possible as an on-going, untreated condition may permanently damage and scar the airways and sudden asthma attacks can prove fatal.

Emma is currently having her inhaler twice a day but it is hoped that can be reduced to just once a day soon. She is happy to sit in her bed and be given it and seems to be coping well with her new treatment. It is very easy to learn how to give it and if you are interested in adopting her, we can show you in a few minutes how easy it is to do.

We really hope Emma can find a new owner shortly as she really deserves a loving home after her prolonged stay in the centre.

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