It’s estimated that around 85,000 cats in the UK suffer from asthma but, despite the large number of feline sufferers, it can often go undiagnosed for many years.
Petplan vet Brian Faulkner explains exactly what feline asthma is and how to ensure your cat gets the best treatment, while Petplan customer, June Leckie, tells us the story of her asthma-suffering cat, Stan...
WHAT IS FELINE ASTHMA?
Feline asthma is extremely similar to the human strain in terms of causes, symptoms and treatments.
It is caused by the small passageways of a cat’s lungs becoming chronically inflamed. Asthma attacks occur when these passageways thicken and constrict even further, making it difficult for the cat to breathe.
Brian says: “The exact cause of feline asthma isn’t totally understood. In some cases it can be an allergic response to an irritant, but for others no allergic cause can be found.
“Possible irritants include pollen, dust, cigarette smoke, household sprays and even certain cat litter.
“It’s believed by many vets that feline asthma is becoming more common in the UK due to increased pollution and the rise of indoor cats – Petplan paid out £1.6m worth of respiratory system disorder claims in 2012.”
TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT
Successful management of the condition allows many domestic cats to lead a normal life.
Around 10 years ago, inhalers and nebulisers were created specifically for cats. That means they can now be treated effectively by their owners with a minimum of fuss in their own home.
Stan, a six-year-old Snow Bengal cat from Glasgow, is one cat who has benefited from these relatively new developments.
He was rushed to the vet by his owner, June Leckie, in July last year as he was struggling to breathe. They found no foreign object blocking Stan’s airway and ordered a scan which revealed he had asthma.
Stan was able to go home nine days after his problems and now leads a normal life thanks to his new inhaler which he has to take twice a day.
June said: “We were so fortunate that we had Petplan insurance as they covered all the costs for his treatment and stay in hospital which totalled nearly £3,000 – we don’t know what we’d have done without Petplan’s help.
“Since his treatment Stan has been like a different cat, so much more affectionate and I think this is simply down to the fact that he feels so much better, it is wonderful to see him so happy!”
If you suspect your cat might have asthma, it is important to speak to your vet to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms to look out for include wheezing, coughing and laboured breathing.
Does your cat have asthma? Can you offer any insight into what it’s like to live with a cat with asthma? Tell us your story below…