Breathing difficulties can be caused by various conditions in cats. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the trachea and the bronchi. It develops when the smooth muscle of the bronchi constricts, blocks the airway, and triggers the release of histamines that combat allergens. This obstruction of the airway causes mucous to build and triggers spasms that bring on shortness of breath and wheezing. The condition is often triggered by exposure to environmental allergens such as cigarette smoke, dust, hair spray, and perfume.
Asthma is known as allergic bronchitis and is similar to asthma seen in humans. Young cats and certain breeds such as Siamese and Himalayans appear to be more susceptible to bronchial asthma.
- shortness of breath
- frantic attempts to inhale
- bluish mucous membranes (in severe cases)
Determining the allergen triggering your cat’s asthma can be difficult, however it will help if you can minimize your pet's exposure to potential irritants including cigarette smoke, dust, hair spray, and perfume. It is also important to remember that feline heartworm disease can mimic asthma symptoms so any cat with a respiratory issue should be screened for the disease.