Asthma is a chronic condition and is characterised by an inflammation and thickening of the small airways in the lungs. It is also known as chronic bronchitis. Cats of all ages may suffer from asthma but it is more prevalent in younger to middle-aged cats. Siamese cats are particularly predisposed.
When your cat inhales the affected airways collapse and make it difficult for your cat to catch its breath. Mild cases of asthma might go unnoticed or be misinterpreted as a furball. Mild asthma may be nothing more than a dry, hacking cough which may progress to wheezing sounds that are most obvious when your cat exhales.
In severe cases of asthma the airways become blocked with mucus and the smooth muscle that surrounds the airways goes into spasm restricting breathing. Severe asthma attacks may be life-threatening.
Tell tale signs are hallow, rapid and laboured breathing with a marked movement of the abdomen as your cat tries to get more air into its lungs. A bluish purple tinge to the tongue or gums may also be noticeable. In such cases your cat needs urgent veterinary help.
Most asthma attacks are triggered by allergens in the environment and stress. Some common allergens include grass and tree pollens, fire smoke, cigarette smoke, fumes from cars and factories, dust especially dust from cat litter and aerosols such as perfumes, deodorants and flea sprays. In addition, commercial cat foods are often filled with colourants and preservatives and can damage your cat’s immune system predisposing it to allergies.
The first step in the treatment of asthma is determining what the triggers are. If they can be identified and eliminated no further treatment is necessary. Try and remove potential triggers from the environment.
For example, do not expose your cat to smoke. Minimise the use of aerosols or at least make sure that your cat out of the room when you use them.
Feed your cat a preservative and colourant free diet of unprocessed food. This should consist of mainly raw meat such as minced beef, chicken and chicken livers mixed with a little bone meal and a small amount of grated carrot or finely chopped greens like spinach. Remember not to change the diet overnight, especially if your cat is elderly. Slowly introduce new foods and allow the digestive system to become accustomed to the new diet.
Remember that there may be more than one trigger so remove suspected triggers one at a time and allow 2 to 3 weeks to see if the asthma attacks lessen. Bear in mind though that t is seldom possible to identify all triggers, and even if they are identified it may be impractical or impossible to eliminate them. It may therefore be necessary to give your cat medication to control the asthma attacks.
Conventional treatments for asthma include bronchodilators, corticosteroids and antihistamines. There are also natural remedies for cats with asthma that alleviate the symptoms of asthma and promote respiratory health.
A combination of herbs such as elecampane and marshmallow together with homoeopathic ingredients like mag phos, kali mur, arsen alb and phosphorous can be used to promote respiratory health naturally.
Pet Alive offers two ready-made natural remedies that contain these ingredients. AmazaPet relieves wheezing and chest discomfort keeps the chest open and maintains easy breathing. Respo-K is an alternative remedy to improve respiratory health and strengthen immunity for optimal lung functioning.
Both come in tablet form and may be given whole , crushed or mixed with food or a treat. Administer one tablet 3-5 times daily for two weeks.
If you prefer to make your own natural remedies for cats with asthma, mix one teaspoonful of fresh coltsfoot juice into half a teaspoonful of warm honey and some water and administer twice daily, in the morning and evening.
If there is an infection of the lungs, boil 200ml of water mixed with one teaspoon of honey and two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Let it cool down a bit and add two teaspoons of a thyme and plantain tisane (herbal tea). Let it steep for one minute. Check that the mixture is not too hot and then administer by dropper. In less severe cases of asthma just give the thyme and plantain tisane, four dropperfuls per day.
All natural remedies for cats with asthma can be used alongside conventional treatment.