The Signs of Feline Asthma
By Deean Jones
May 10, 2010
Kai would occasionally cough – I had cats in the past that had done this, so
I wasn’t too worried. After she had cleared her throat she was fine, off
running and playing. Then I noticed her beginning to cough more frequently
– several times a day. Again, I thought it was just nothing, or maybe she
was trying to yak up a fur ball. But no fur ball ever appeared. I had a
weekday off and fearing she was growing the mother of all fur balls, I
decided to take Kai to the vet. Before I left, I shot a little video to show the
vet. I knew (like my car at a mechanics shop) that when we got there she
would seem fine.
The vet took one look at the video and said “I think that it's asthma”. What?
Who even knew cats got asthma? She filled my head with visions of inhaled
medications, little kitty inhalers, and pretty much freaked me out. I thought to
myself, "I am not going to do that!"
|This is Kai
Five years old
|Then I came home and went on the internet. Yahoo! Groups
were my first stop. I found a few feline asthma groups, joined
and waited to be approved. While I waited, I Googled “feline
asthma” and found a lot of information. I read and I read, and
by the time I started posting on the feline asthma group I was
pretty convinced inhaled meds were the way to go. I was still a
little scared, but I told myself that I had learned to do blood
glucose testing and administer insulin when Bo had diabetes,
and how to give B12 shots when he was diagnosed with IBD,
so I could do this too. (Bo Jones is on the Tributes page of this
|Now, I am proud to say that Kai has been puffing away on her kitty inhaler since mid-March and has had no
asthma symptoms since then! She is very cooperative and even purrs through her breathing treatments! People
told me it would happen, but I truly never believed it would. Feline asthma is a serious disease, which, if not
controlled will at the very least be debilitating but is often fatal to a cat. Typically, feline asthma has been treated
with systemic steroids, such as prednisone and injections of Depo-Medrol. Although these can keep the
symptoms controlled by decreasing the inflammation which causes the symptoms, systemic steroids carry side
effects which range from behavioral changes and GI disturbances to diabetes. However, there is a safe and
successful option to treat feline asthma – Flovent. Flovent is an inhaled steroid that due to the size of the
molecule is not systemic. When beginning Flovent, kitty needs to be on an alternate steroid since Flovent will
take 2-4 weeks to reach full effect. After being on both prednisolone and Flovent for two weeks symptom free,
then the prednisolone can be tapered down until kitty is only on Flovent. If your vet has opted to use an injection
of Depo Medrol instead of prednisolone it essentially tapers itself down.
Once kitty’s asthmatic symptoms are controlled on Flovent, in the event of a cough, always be sure and have a
canister of Albuterol or Ventolin on hand to not only stop the coughing, but to alleviate the accompanying chest
tightness. To administer inhaled meds, the best device on the market is an Aerokat which is a delivery system
made especially to give inhaled meds to cats.
Flovent is a commitment, as it must be given twice daily, approximately 12 hours apart, for the duration of the cat’
s life. But the payoff is enormous as vet visits and trips to the ER are drastically reduced. The biggest payoff of
all is having a cat that breathes freely with no worry of side effects.
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