One in five* households in the UK are affected by asthma, but many people don’t realise it’s a problem among our feline friends as well. So in this week’s Pet Care Column, leading veterinary charity, PDSA, discusses the condition, its triggers and treatment.
Feline asthma is similar to its human equivalent. It causes a cat’s airways to narrow and increases the amount of mucus produced. This causes them to cough, wheeze and have difficulty breathing.
PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Sean Wensley, says: “What triggers asthma in cats is not always obvious. It is usually caused by an environmental irritant, such as cigarette smoke, pollen or aerosol sprays. But stress, from things like building work or the arrival of a new baby, is also a common trigger.”
Feline asthma is normally treated using anti-inflammatory drugs, together with bronchodilator drugs which open up the airways. Maintaining a calm and stress-free environment is vital, so owners need to ensure their cat has places where it can go to be left alone. Keeping your cat at a healthy weight is also essential, as obesity will make the condition worse.
“After ensuring that your home is a stress-free zone for your cat, the best way to help them is to identify and remove any possible triggers so attacks can be avoided,” continues Sean. “Second-hand cigarette smoke is a major factor contributing to our pets’ respiratory problems, so if you do smoke, keep your cat’s health and wellbeing in mind and smoke well away from your cat, ideally outside. Better still this is a good reason to give up altogether for the benefit of your own health as well as your pet’s.”