17 Cat Asthma Questions You Need To Ask Your Vet Today

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 03/11/23 •  14 min read
Cigarette next to an inhaler

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I have a little kitten that I am currently fostering.

He is extremely friendly and loves to play. That being said, he has been diagnosed with asthma.

 To be honest, I don’t even know what’s wrong with him.

 It started as a cough and then he developed a wheeze.

After taking him to the vet for some tests, I was told that he has pneumonia, which caused the fluid to accumulate in his lungs.

He was put on meds and weeks later, there was still no significant improvement.

I had to seek a second opinion.

That’s when I discovered that my kitten had been running around with undiagnosed and untreated feline asthma.

Untreated asthma in cats can be a dangerous disease.

If you suspect your kitty has asthma you need to take them to your veterinarian immediately.

 Untreated asthma can lead to additional complications and even death in some cases.

Asthma is possibly one of the most common conditions experienced by cats today.

It’s a very disruptive condition, especially for many feline owners, due to their cats’ tendency to often hide from them when their asthma is at its worst.

 Understandably, people who love cats want to know exactly how they can help their cats cope with this health problem.

Asthma in felines deserves special attention as it often affects otherwise lively and active kitties who wind up just not wanting to do much of anything at all when asthma gets worse.

 Since there are many different causes of Asthma in felines, it can be helpful to understand what those causes are before getting into ways that you can help your cat overcome the condition.

 That way, you’ll have an idea of what sort of symptoms may be pointing toward some specific cause versus a general asthma problem that affects many cats in general.

Here are common questions that every person who takes care of an asthmatic cat should ask themselves.

I have provided the answers to these questions to help you navigate your stay with your kitty, and make you a better cat parent in terms of taking care of ‘em.

Common Cat Asthma Questions and Answers

1.       What is cat asthma?

Cat asthma is a respiratory condition that affects cats causing difficulty in breathing.

It is caused by inflammation in the bronchi and lungs.

The inflammation causes swelling, which blocks airflow and makes it difficult for your cat to breathe.

Cats with asthma usually develop symptoms when they’re exposed to something that triggers an allergic reaction.

This can include pollen, dust mites, or other allergens.

Feline asthma is a chronic, recurring condition.

2.    What Causes Asthma in Cats?

Asthma occurs when there is inflammation of the lining of the airways.

This inflammation causes swelling, which blocks airflow through the airways and makes it difficult for your cat to breathe.

The exact triggers for asthma in cats aren’t fully understood, but an allergic reaction is likely involved.

Allergic reactions occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen, dust mites, some cat litter types, or fleas, which normally wouldn’t cause any problems.

The body releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight off this perceived threat, causing inflammation in various organs and tissues throughout the body.

For cats sensitive to allergens, this can result in asthma attacks when their bodies react negatively to these substances.

Some appear to be more prone to developing asthma than others.

These cats may be genetically predisposed toward developing an allergic reaction.

3.    Can cats live with asthma?

Asthma is a chronic and recurrent illness.

It can be controlled rather than treated.

A cat can live a long life if she is diagnosed early and treated promptly.

Only when a seasonal allergy triggers their asthma to flare up, can some cats be put on medication.

Other cats will require medication for the rest of their lives.

4.    Can cat asthma go away?

It’s important to understand that asthma is a chronic life-long disease that can flare up at any time.

However, feline asthma can resolve and go away completely, but it is not common.

Some cats may have only mild symptoms, and others may have severe symptoms that never resolve.

In some cases, asthma will improve with time.

Cats with mild or intermittent asthma can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs called corticosteroids (steroids).

They work by reducing inflammation in the airways, making it easier for them to breathe.

 However, long-term use of steroids can cause serious side effects.

In more severe cases of feline asthma, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may help to reduce symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Immunotherapy involves slowly increasing exposure to allergens that trigger an allergic reaction in your cat’s airways over months or years.

This continues until he gets used to them and no longer has an allergic reaction when exposed to them in small amounts.

The length of time required for treatment depends on how severe your cat’s allergies are and how quickly he responds to treatment.

5.    What happens if there’s untreated asthma in cats?

Asthma in cats is a condition that can be fatal if not treated quickly.

One of the main causes of death from asthma in cats is an inability to breathe properly.

When asthma goes untreated, your cat experiences labored breathing and wheezing.

He may also cough, gag, or vomit. In severe cases, your cat will collapse and die from lack of oxygen.

Cats that have asthma should be treated with corticosteroids such as prednisolone or prednisone.

These medications help to avoid inflammation of the airways so that they can better handle allergens and irritants.

A veterinarian will also prescribe a bronchodilator to dilate and relax the airways.

6.    Can asthma kill my cat?

Yes, in severe cases, asthma can be fatal in cats.

Asthma is a common respiratory condition in cats that causes shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

In severe cases, asthma attacks can be life-threatening.

When an attack occurs, the airways of the lungs constrict (become narrower).

This makes it difficult for him to breathe in enough oxygen to meet their body’s needs.

As a result, cats can die from asthma because they are unable to breathe.

The quicker you get treatment for your cat, the better chance he has of recovering.

As a cat owner, you should be familiar with the signs of an asthmatic attack in cats and know how to manage it.

 If left unmanaged, asthma can be fatal for your cat.

7.    How to treat asthma in cats:

Demonstration on use of an inhaler

Asthma is a chronic, recurring condition.

It can be managed and controlled rather than treated or cured.

Your cat can live a long life if she is diagnosed early and treated promptly.

The first step in managing your cat’s asthma is to rule out other conditions that mimic it.

Your veterinarian will perform tests, such as blood work and chest X-rays, to rule out other causes of symptoms such as heart disease, lung parasites, or allergies.

Next, your veterinarian will prescribe medication for your cat’s asthma.

He might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids.

Asthma is treated with anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation in the airways and steroids to reduce swelling of the airways.

Other medications might include bronchodilators that help open up the airways and make breathing easier for your cat.

You may also need to give your cat daily medication to control her asthma symptoms at home, depending on how severe her condition is and how well she responds to treatment from the vet.

In some cases, your vet may prescribe corticosteroids for the long-term treatment of asthma symptoms.

Prepare yourself for a lifetime of maintenance if your kitty has chronic asthma.

8.    What triggers cat asthma?

The exact triggers for asthma in cats aren’t fully understood, but common allergens that are likely to trigger an allergic reaction include:

9.    What does cat asthma sound like?

Cats who suffer from asthma will tend to have very shallow breathing, which can sound like coughing.

This is called wheezing (a whistling sound while breathing).

10. How often do cats with asthma cough?

There is no hard and fast rule as to how often cats with asthma cough.

Some cats have mild asthma that causes them to cough only a few times a year, while others have severe asthma that causes them to cough constantly.

The average cat with asthma coughs every day, but some cats may have a milder form of the disease that causes them to cough only a few times a week.

Cats with asthma should cough at least once or twice an hour during an attack, according to VCA Animal Hospital.

Cats who suffer from asthma will tend to have very shallow breathing, which can sound like coughing.

If you notice your cat struggling to breathe, you must seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

11. How many breaths does a cat take per minute

A cat should take between 20 and 30 breaths a minute.

Cats that are having trouble breathing will take more frequent, deep breaths.

Just as humans have different breathing patterns depending on their age and physical condition, so do cats.

Kittens breathe more frequently than adult cats because they have higher metabolisms and are growing quickly.

Adult cats tend to take fewer and longer breaths than kittens do.

A young kitten has a heart rate of up to 200 beats per minute (bpm), while an adult cat’s heart rate is closer to 100 bpm on average.

Many factors can affect a cat’s breath rate.

 If he has an injury or illness, for example, his breath rate may be higher than normal because he needs more oxygen than usual.

However, if you notice that your cat’s breathing rate has increased significantly, it is best to take him to the vet immediately.

12. Why is my cat’s breathing labored?

Labored breathing is simply troubled breathing or breathing difficulties.

There are many reasons why a cat may develop a breathing problem.

 Some of these reasons include:

Labored breathing is a serious sign of illness, especially in cats.

If you notice your cat breathing heavily or panting excessively, she could be in respiratory distress.

An immediate veterinary visit is warranted to rule out any underlying causes and provide life-saving treatment.

13. How long can a cat live with labored breathing?

The answer to this question depends on the cat’s overall health and condition.

Cats that are in good health can live up to 15 years or more.

There are however many factors that can shorten their life expectancy.

Your cat may experience labored breathing due to respiratory issues and may not be able to breathe as well on their own.

They may need you to offer them some assistance.

If your cat has labored breathing, it will be harder for them to get enough oxygen into their bodies.

This could lead to other problems such as anemia (low red blood cell count), which results in weakness and fatigue.

 It can also cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin), which usually appears on the gums and mucous membranes of the mouth.

In addition, anemia causes fatigue because it prevents red blood cells from carrying adequate amounts of oxygen throughout the body.

If your cat is breathing with a labored, heavy, or noisy breathing pattern, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

A cat with labored breathing can be a stressful situation for both you and your pet.

While there is no set time that a cat should live with labored breathing, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

14. How to tell if your cat has breathing problems:

When a cat has problems breathing, he may hunch his shoulders or lie flat on his back with his mouth wide.

This can be followed by labored breathing.

This necessitates prompt veterinary attention.

15. What’s the difference between cat asthma and hairball?

Cat asthma and hairballs are two common conditions that can be confused with each other.

Cat asthma is a respiratory condition that causes wheezing, coughing, and dyspnea (difficulty breathing), while a hairball is an obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract that causes vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss.

Hairballs are caused when your cat swallows hair while grooming itself or eating.

 The ingested hairballs can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.

Hairballs are most common in long-haired cats.

If you notice that there is a lot of dander coming off of your pet’s coat after grooming them, try brushing them more often until it subsides.

Cats suffering from either condition will display similar symptoms, but you need to know how to distinguish between them so you can get the proper treatment for your pets.

If your cat is experiencing hairball problems, you should take them to the vet right away.

 The vet may need to perform an endoscopy on your cat to see if they have a hairball stuck in its esophagus or stomach.

 If this is the case, they will need to use a tube to remove the hairball so it can pass through your cat’s digestive system naturally.

16. Do air purifiers help cats with asthma?

Cats can develop asthma for several reasons, including allergies and exposure to cigarette smoke.

 One of the things that makes asthma so difficult to treat is that it can be hard to pinpoint the root cause.

Air purifiers work by filtering the air in your home through filter(s) that trap dust particles and other allergens before they get into your environment.

These allergens are what cause allergic reactions, so trapping them before they get into the air can help reduce allergic symptoms like sneezing and eye irritation.

 The two most common types of filters used in air purifiers are:

In addition to removing allergens, air purifiers can also reduce the amount of dust in your home and make it easier for you to clean up after your cat.

 This is especially important for cats with asthma because they’re sensitive to allergens and dust, which can trigger an asthma attack.

17. Is albuterol safe for cats?

Yes, albuterol also called Ventolin, is safe for cats.

However, just like any other medication, it has a few side effects namely, trembling and restlessness.

If your cat has a chronic illness such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, seizures, or cardiac problems, especially irregular heart rhythms, administer albuterol very cautiously.

 If your cat is pregnant, administer it with caution. Why, because it can decrease uterine contractions and postpone labor in the later stages of pregnancy.

Cats who are allergic to albuterol should avoid using it.

18. Can I use my albuterol inhaler on my cat?

The answer is yes, but only if your cat has asthma.

Albuterol is a bronchodilator medication that helps to open up the airways in people with asthma.

 It can be very effective for treating acute attacks and flare-ups, although it’s not a long-term solution for asthma.

The active ingredients in albuterol are called beta-agonists.

These drugs work by relaxing the muscles around the airways so they can expand more easily.

The result is less resistance to airflow and improved breathing.

However, the drug can cause some side effects such as trembling and restlessness.

Cats can be very sensitive to medications, so it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before giving your cat any prescription or over-the-counter medicine.

Your veterinarian will help you determine if albuterol is right for your cat and how much to give him or her for the best results.


Asthma in cats can be silent, where signs aren’t noticeable until it’s too late, so it’s important to know the signs.

This includes wheezing

In the end, asthma can be a difficult disease to manage.

 The key is to be aware of the symptoms in your cat and to recognize the early signs so that you can respond accordingly.

 Since acute asthma is often fatal, it’s essential to pay attention to your cat’s condition and take quick action when needed.     

While asthma in cats is not something that can be fully cured with asthma drugs, it can however be managed.

It can be serious if left untreated.

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to help keep your cat comfortable and happy.

Did you realize I threw in one more additional question just for you?

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.

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