Asthma is a reactive airway disease, meaning the muscle lining the bronchial tubes can suddenly constrict leading to airway obstruction. Affected cats cannot expel air from their lungs and symptoms come on very suddenly.
Some cats have less obvious signs of reactive airways but prominent signs of bronchitis, meaning the bronchial tubes are inflamed and secretions accumulate and obstruct airways. In either case, breathing is difficult, coughing may occur and the lungs cannot function properly.
Bronchial asthma in cats is uncomfortable, tiring and the condition can be life-threatening.
Other medical problems can cause similar symptoms such as difficult breathing and coughing in cats. It is important to exclude these before establishing a diagnosis of feline bronchial asthma. These conditions include: Acute upper respiratory infections Feline. Symptoms are often related to the nasal cavity and eyes and include sneezing.
Feline heartworm disease. Sudden, spontaneous death of a heartworm can lead to respiratory distress but chronic heartworm disease is more likely to cause coughing and vomiting.
Lungworms infection. This is an important cause of chronic coughing in some geographic areas.
Nasopharyngeal polyp. This inflammatory growth can obstruct the airways in the throat.
Laryngeal disease. Although relatively uncommon in cats, it can cause breathing problems.
Pleural effusion. An accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity causes respiratory difficulty and rapid breathing.
Pneumonia (lung infections)
Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) is often due to heart failure in cats.
Airway obstruction (foreign body, tumor) should be especially considered in cats that do not respond appropriately to therapy for asthma.
Trauma or injury to the trachea (windpipe) or chest cavity
Tumors or cancers of the lungs