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Bronchial Asthma in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Diagnostic tests are necessary to recognize feline bronchial asthma, and help exclude other diseases that may cause similar signs.

There is no single test that is diagnostic of feline bronchial asthma. The diagnosis is based on the history of labored breathing that is responsive to oxygen, corticosteroids (hormones), and or bronchodilators (which are agents that expand the air passages of the lungs), typical X-ray findings, and evidence of airway inflammation based on fluid analysis. It is important to rule out other causes of difficult respiration in your cat, such as heart failure, pneumonia, pleural effusion, tumors or chest injury, as the treatments for each condition are very different. It is also possible to have two concurrent diseases. Recommended tests may include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination
  • Chest radiograph (X-ray)
  • A heartworm test to rule out heartworm disease
  • Fecal floatation test to check for parasites or lung flukes
  • Feline leukemia and feline "AIDS" testing
  • Blood tests such as biochemistry analysis and a complete blood count (CBC)


  • Initial therapy may require hospitalization with treatments that include corticosteroids, a bronchodilator drug such as aminophylline or terbutaline and oxygen.

  • It is most beneficial to maintain a stress-free environment.

  • Chronic therapy often involves therapy with steroids, such as prednisone or periodic injectable medications, and/or bronchodilator drugs. Steroid therapy can lead to side effects.

    Home Care and Prevention

    At home, administer all prescribed medications, follow your veterinarian's directions and restrict caloric intake in overweight or obese cats. You should discuss proper diet with your veterinarian.

    Prevention takes the form of minimizing the symptoms of asthma by removing irritants from the environment. Try to eliminate dusts and powders (such as flea powders or carpet cleaners). Consider changing litter types – change to sand, newspaper types, or low "dust" varieties – and clean furnace filters often. Try to eliminate smoking in the house (even on a trial basis) and consider using air cleaners/purifiers. Minimize use of aerosol sprays such as hairsprays and deodorizers.

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