Asthma Triggers in Cats

Balancing on the tops of outdoor fences in the cusp of spring isn't a good idea for asthmatic kitties.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

One minute your kitty jumps up and snatches your seat on the couch, and the next she's hunched over, wheezing and coughing. Feline asthma can strike at any time, but it's triggered by something she breathed in. If you can't reduce the triggers, your vet may prescribe medication.

The Lowdown

Your kitty's body can overreact to many things. Feline asthma occurs when her body slams on the brakes and throws a fit when an allergen is present. When your feline inhales one of these allergens -- which vary for each cat -- her body releases serotonin. Serotonin constricts her airways, causing her to have difficulty inhaling and exhaling. You can think of her asthma as an overreaction of her body's immune system to something that's actually completely harmless.

Outside Allergens

Every spring, it seems Mother Nature dumps truckloads of pollen into every neighborhood. The same pollen that makes plenty of your neighbors miserable with stuffy noses and watery eyes can also trigger your kitty's asthma. But pollen isn't the sole culprit: Grass, weeds and even cold air can cause your feline's airways to constrict. Most of these allergens are unavoidable, even if your kitty stays inside. Pollen and grass, for example, hitch a ride on your shoes and make their way into your house. Wiping your feet at the door and closing your windows is the best non-medicinal remedy for your meowing friend. Air filters also help.

Household Allergens

Unlike outside allergens, you can largely prevent household allergens. Anything that can make breathing difficult for you is almost certain to do the same to your kitty. Cigarette smoke, household cleaners, carpet fresheners and scented kitty litter are just some of the household allergens that bring about feline asthma, and you can take precautions to prevent most of them. Switching your cat from scented to non-scented kitty litter can be a problem, because she may not take kindly to the change. To prevent her from doing her business on your carpet, add in non-scented litter in tiny amounts until it replaces the scented litter completely.

Warnings and Treatment

Other medical conditions manifest themselves as asthma symptoms, such as heartworms, heart failure and pneumonia, so take a drive down to your vet's office to make sure you're dealing with asthma and not something even more dangerous. Depending on the severity of your kitty's asthma, your vet may prescribe an inhaler and other medication to help control asthmatic episodes and the allergens that cause them. Corticosteroids are an option. If she's prescribed an inhaler, don't worry about prying her mouth open. The inhaler comes with a mouthpiece attached to a long tube, so administering the puffs is a little easier.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

the nest