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Bronchial Asthma in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are necessary to recognize feline bronchial asthma and exclude other diseases. Tests may include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination

  • Chest X-rays. Although they can be normal, there are often changes typical of asthma or bronchial inflammation.

  • A heartworm ELISA or antibody test to exclude heartworm disease.

  • In some locations, a special fecal floatation to diagnose parasites or lung flukes. Multiple tests may be performed as parasites are intermittently shed and can be difficult to diagnose.

  • A complete blood count (CBC). Some cats may have elevated eosinophils which is often seen with allergic or parasitic disease.

  • Serum chemistries to rule out concurrent diseases, especially in sick cats.

  • Test for the feline leukemia (FeLV) and FIV (feline AIDS virus) to check status of cats with chronic illnesses or those who may receive corticosteroids.

  • A sample of fluid from the lungs (tracheal-bronchial washings or airway lavage) to diagnose lung problems. The fluid collected is examined microscopically (cytology) and cultured for infectious diseases. Some cats with asthma/bronchitis also can develop a lung infection.

    Additional diagnostic tests may be recommended on an individual pet basis, including:

  • Bronchoscopy. In this procedure, a small flexible fiber optic tube is inserted into your cat's airway (tracheobronchial tree) to allow examination for foreign bodies, laryngeal abnormalities, nasopharyngeal polyps, parasites and tumors. Fluid from the lung can be collected and analyzed.

  • Echocardiography (heart ultrasound exam) may be indicated if heart disease and heart failure cannot be excluded as a diagnosis. Echo is also helpful in diagnosing feline heartworm disease because the worms can be seen by ultrasound.

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