Your kitty starts hacking and wheezing, as if she needs to bring up a hairball. This gets your attention and you begin wondering what’s going on. One consideration beyond those horrid hairballs could be feline asthma. A dietary change, along with prescribed medication, may help.
Allergies and Asthma
Cats can develop allergies; they can develop asthma. It’s also called chronic bronchitis, allergic bronchitis and bronchial asthma. However, don’t bring on the Primatene. It’s never good to give your cat gal an over-the-counter medication, especially when your vet hasn’t prescribed it.
Your little girl may be responding too strongly to cigarette smoke, perfume and flea sprays -- koff, koff, hack! She may also be allergic to tree and grass pollens, deodorizers that you use to freshen your home, fireplace smoke and her cat litter. She may have only occasional attacks, or she may have attacks every day. Feline asthma can be just as life-threatening as human asthma. It does have to be treated.
Asthma and Weight
Should your cat gal be overweight, this may make her asthma symptoms worse. When you discuss her symptoms with your vet, ask him about her weight. If she is overweight, he will recommend a weight reduction regimen, possibly consisting of reduced food intake or a weight loss cat food for your little furry girl.
As she sheds the excess weight, you should be able to see her respond with an increased ability to breathe more easily. Don’t worry that you’re depriving her – reducing her weight will only benefit her overall, as well as her respiratory health.
Link Between Asthma and Diet
Because your little girl can’t tell you or your vet what’s wrong and what may be causing her health issues, you’ll have to have her tested for allergies. This testing can include testing for any potential food allergies.
Some substances in your cat’s food may have caused her to develop asthma symptoms. Food allergies don’t always have to show up as gastrointestinal symptoms. If your vet suspects a food could be causing your kitty’s issues, he’ll prescribe a special food that she’ll eat for 12 weeks. Once her symptoms disappear, he’ll have you begin to reintroduce her old foods individually to see which ones, if any, might be causing her any issues.
Removing dry cat foods made with grains may help your little kitty to improve her ability to breathe. While vets may not have heard of this, some cat owners have tried removing all grain-based and dry cat foods from their felines’ diets, replacing them with grain-free canned food. These kitties responded by either needing reduced medication dosages or not needing any medication. At the least, a dietary change is much less intrusive than regular injections or inhaler treatments.
Diet as an Addition to Medication
Polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs that come from cold-water oily fish may help to reduce the severity of asthma flares in your kitty. The PUFAs found in cold-water fish are called n-3 PUFAs. These have helped to improve some of the symptoms of airway over-responsiveness and inflammation seen in asthmatic cats.
Dietary change alone isn’t enough to reverse asthma symptoms. It should be used along with prescribed medications to help your kitty deal with her symptoms.
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.
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.