AN INHALER FOR A CAT? How to Care for a Cat With Asthma It’s not often that cats and humans suffer from the same chronic medical condition, which is what makes feline asthma such an interesting condition. In cats, asthma tends to develop from allergic bronchitis, another breathing problem in which a cat’s airways become inflamed. The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University estimates that up to 5% of cats are affected by asthma.
AT COUGH s Something Much Worse
• Increased respiratory rate If your cat has been breathing very quickly, even when they are just lounging on the couch, this may be a sign that they’re struggling to breathe due to excess fluid in their chest. • Breathing delays Some cats with chylothorax may look like they are holding their breath because there is a significant delay between their inhales and exhales. • Coughing There are relatively few reasons for a cat to cough, so coughing can be a major indicator of feline asthma or chylothorax.
If your cat is diagnosed with chylothorax, the prognosis is guarded. A veterinarian can use a syringe to drain excess fluid and stabilize the cat’s breathing. This treatment may need to be repeated several times until the condition subsides. Unfortunately, some cats may need surgery in order to seal the leaking duct and keep the fluid from returning. While this condition is exceedingly rare — most cat owners will never encounter it — when it does happen, a cat’s health can go from “just fine” to “in trouble” very quickly. Keep an eye out and be ready to work with your veterinarian at the first sign of trouble.
Though a cat having an asthma attack can be scary, the prognosis is usually okay. Of course, cats can’t use an inhaler in the same way we do, but veterinarians can help stabilize their breathing with a mask
attached to an inhaler. Since most cats don’t like wearing a mask, oral and injectable steroids may also be prescribed to help.
Some cats can wait eight months between steroid doses, while others need an injection every month or they aren’t able to breathe normally. If your cat has asthma, here’s what you can do to help their condition.
1. Reduce your cat’s stress.
Yes, even though they don’t have to go to work or pay taxes, cats do experience a kind of stress called “domestic stress.” This can result from major household changes, an inconsistent schedule, or a lack of mental stimulation. Stress can make asthma worse, so make sure your cat has plenty of toys to play with, things to climb on, and places to hide to help them cope with any stress.
2. Keep the air clean.
Heat oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
If you smoke or vape, make sure not to do it around your cat. But secondhand smoke isn’t the only thing that can trigger your cat’s asthma. Perfumes, deodorizers, room fresheners, scented litters, and cleaning products with strong odors can trigger an asthma attack. Make sure your home is ventilated well and use products without scents whenever possible.
In a food processor, mix flour and cranberries until fine. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until combined.
3. Exercise with care .
3. Measure out 1/4 tsp-sized portions. Roll into small balls, then press flat with your finger on the baking sheet.
Obesity can make asthma worse, so it’s important to exercise your cat and help them stay at a healthy weight. However, if your cat overexerts itself, this can trigger a severe asthma attack. The best course of action is to keep your cat on a healthy diet, cut out treats, and have regular, short play sessions. Much like in humans, asthma in cats can’t be cured, but cat owners can help their feline friends manage their condition. If you suspect your cat has asthma, call 406-755-6886 and talk to your veterinarian right away.
4. Cook treats in the oven for 15–17 minutes, or until golden and dried on top.
5. Allow treats to cool completely before serving to your cat. Treats can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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