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Is she asthmatic?

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by lulubel, Jan 10, 2012.


  1. lulubel

    lulubel PetForums Senior

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    I know no-one can give a diagnosis over the internet, but I'm hoping there will be some owners of asthmatic cats here who can give me an idea of whether that might be what I'm looking at.

    When Eva first came into our house in July she was quite sneezy and snuffly, which we just monitored because it was fairly mild. It didn't get worse, and after a while went away altogether. We put it down to her being "a bit allergic".

    At the beginning of December, we moved into a new home, and shortly after we moved, she developed a cough that seemed to be a hairball cough. We gave her hairball treatment, which didn't make a great deal of difference. My OH watched her coughing and said it was like she was almost sick and then gulped something (that she presumed was the hairball) back down again. We didn't take her to the vet because she'd already suffered - and was still suffering - from a lot of stress from the move, and she's absolutely terrified of going in the carrier. The cough went away, but we didn't see any signs of a hairball.

    Just before Christmas, she started coughing again, worse than before. A couple of days after the cough came back, we discovered mould growing in the corner of the bedroom where she spends a lot (probably at least half) of her time. We treated the mould with bleach spray and put an electric heater in the corner of the room to stop it coming back. Her cough went away again.

    Since then, she's had occasional and less severe bouts of coughing. We can usually link them with times when the air has got particularly damp and there's condensation starting to form on the windows. We're doing everything we can to avoid this. She's most likely to have a coughing bout when she's just woken up, or even to wake herself up by coughing. We've tried to get a video to show the vet because we know that's what he'll ask for, but haven't managed to be in the right place at the right time with the camera yet.

    I'm asthmatic, and I recognise her symptoms and triggers - mould, damp and stress - as being very common triggers for me (I've had to up my medication since we've moved). The timing of the coughing bouts is familiar, and I also tend to be "a bit allergic" and take daily antihistamines. I've also looked at some videos of asthmatic cats, and the way she stretches her neck out and gulps between coughs seems very similar. But I also know there are other things that can cause coughing, such as a heart condition.

    We're watching her carefully - she's never left alone - and still trying to get a video to show the vet.

    What can we expect from the vet if he does agree with me that she could be asthmatic?

    And is there any other advice that asthmatic cat owners (or even owners of asthmatic cats) can give me?
     
  2. tyrole

    tyrole PetForums Senior

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    Poor Eva :(
    Max my 20 month old moggie has asthma, it was diagnosed when he was about 10 months. He was also diagnosed with an enlarged heart :(
    His cough and prominent wheeze is affected by the weather. If there is rain in the air he coughs and wheezes. His cough will build up to a huge cough that is productive as he swallows a lot.
    I would remove all air fresheners, try to keep her in when the weather is damp and keep dust down - something I'm sure you do.
    Can you hear a wheeze? Just after an attack pick her up and listen to her chest.

    My vet has been fantastic. He has had a battery of tests(thank goodness for insurance) he was initially given oral steroids but after a hospital stay in Bristol he now has a inhaler http://www.trudellmed.com/animal-health/aerokat I was very concerned about the inhaler but he tolerates it well, not so well if he is wheezy which is understandable as he can't breathe.
    He has gained a bit of weight due to the steroids but hopefully will start to lose now he is on the inhaler. He is a lethargic cat and we have been advised not to allow him to exert as this triggers an attack. We have had a very bad weekend and unfortunately he had to have a steroid injection. He had 3 very bad attacks yesterday :( its very frightening as it often looks like he isn't going to recover.
    I'm sure your vet will listen and is likely to suggest an x ray and possibly some other lung tests.
    I wouldn't wait for a video, my vet didn't hear Max cough for at least 5-6 visits but he could hear the wheeze.
    Good luck and please keep us updated.
    Anything else you want to know just ask. :)
     
    #2 tyrole, Jan 10, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  3. Ianthi

    Ianthi PetForums VIP

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    Do you know her previous history? Given your location I think it wise to rule out heartworm which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Left untreated this can be fatal. Of course it may well turn out to be bronchitis, asthma or a heart-related condition though the sneezing, snuffliness would suggest something more respiratory related to me.

    How is your other cat with balance problems now?
     
  4. peecee

    peecee PetForums Senior

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    Hi,

    My cat has recently been diagnosed with asthma and is currently on oral steroids while I am trying to work on her to get her on the inhaler which is much better for her.

    It is really important to get your to the vet for a check to confirm whether it is or not it is asthma. They will usually do a chest xray and blood test to rule out other possiblities.

    It's important to get this sorted out as soon as possible because IF it is asthma, it is a chronic condition which causes inflammation. It is essential to get control of this inflammation. If the coughing is indeed due to asthma, then it is an indication that the inflammation is NOT under control. Steroids, oral or inhalers are main means of doing this.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Tyrole, sorry to hear about your cat.
     
  5. tyrole

    tyrole PetForums Senior

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    Good tip about the lung/heart worm, that is something my vet ruled out quite early on. I hadn't spotted the location.
     
  6. tyrole

    tyrole PetForums Senior

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    Max is much brighter today :)
     
  7. lulubel

    lulubel PetForums Senior

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    Thanks for the replies, and sorry I didn't get back before. It's been a bit manic here!

    I'm really sorry to hear poor Max has got it so bad. That must be tough for him and you. Eva's asthma (if that's what it is) isn't anywhere near that bad. In fact, she hasn't coughed at all since I made my first post.

    When she coughs, we'll listen for a wheeze. We can't pick her up - she was living as a stray until July last year, and although she's very affectionate now, she doesn't like to be restrained in any way - but my OH can put her head close to her.

    We don't have anything "nasty" in the house. Nothing smelly, no strong cleaning products or perfumes, absolutely no smoking. Basically, anything that sets off my asthma is banned, so it's generally a pretty good environment. We also have tiled floors here rather than carpets, which helps to keep dust mites to a minimum. All our cats are indoor cats, so we can control their environment to a large extent.

    Interestingly, she did have a full health check when we first took her in last summer, and the vet listened to her chest then, and didn't hear a wheeze. Which doesn't mean she doesn't have asthma, but if she does would mean it's mild enough to not be noticeable in summer.

    All we know is that someone had spayed her and her ear had been clipped to mark her as a neutered stray. It must have been a bad experience for her because she's terrified of the carrier now to the extent that she fouls herself when you approach her with it.

    The first thing I thought of when we ruled out hairballs was heartworm, but I've read up on it, and it seems as if treatment is just as likely to be fatal as leaving it alone - dead worms clogging the arteries. (Plus, it doesn't explain her symptoms appearing when there's mould present.) To be honest, there are a lot less mosquitoes in this part of Spain than we expected, and than people seem to think. Maybe it's because the area we live in is so dry, so there's nowhere for them to breed.

    Sam isn't 100%, but so much better than he was. He's off the antibiotics, but still on anti-inflamatories, and most of the time you wouldn't know there was anything wrong with him, until he has a mad moment.

    I'm sorry to hear about your cat, and I hope you manage to get her onto the inhaled steroids because, as you say, they're much better. In my experience, oral steroids tend to be quite addictive, as well as leading to weight gain.

    If Eva has asthma, I'm confident that it's mild, and possibly accute rather than chronic, which is why I haven't rushed to get her to the vet (especially when I know my vet will just give her an anti-inflamatory injection and say he needs to see a video before he can do anything more). Her "attacks" are nothing like as bad as poor Max's - I'm certainly never concerned that she won't recover - and she didn't have any symptoms at all in the summer, so I'm hoping we can control it by creating a suitable environment and with little or no medication.

    As long as we have it under control, I'm much happier to wait until I've got a video to show the vet, and then get him to come out if he just wants to examine her (rather than do x-rays immediately) because it would avoid subjecting her to the trauma of the carrier unless/until it's absolutely necessary.
     
  8. peecee

    peecee PetForums Senior

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    I'm sorry to hear about your cat, and I hope you manage to get her onto the inhaled steroids because, as you say, they're much better. In my experience, oral steroids tend to be quite addictive, as well as leading to weight gain.

    If Eva has asthma, I'm confident that it's mild, and possibly accute rather than chronic, which is why I haven't rushed to get her to the vet (especially when I know my vet will just give her an anti-inflamatory injection and say he needs to see a video before he can do anything more). Her "attacks" are nothing like as bad as poor Max's - I'm certainly never concerned that she won't recover - and she didn't have any symptoms at all in the summer, so I'm hoping we can control it by creating a suitable environment and with little or no medication.

    As long as we have it under control, I'm much happier to wait until I've got a video to show the vet, and then get him to come out if he just wants to examine her (rather than do x-rays immediately) because it would avoid subjecting her to the trauma of the carrier unless/until it's absolutely necessary.[/QUOTE]

    Asthma is a chronic condition in which proper treatment can successfully treat the symptons but cannot be cured. The thing is that if the inflammation is not being treated it will go on developing in the lungs and can do real damage. You should really consider taking your cat to the vet asap to see if indeed it is asthma. Right now, my cat has not coughed lately and her wheezing has reduced somewhat but even if I get her and the inhaler and she does not cough at all, it really does not mean she is cured.

    If it is asthma, coughing even if it is intermittent (and it is asthma) means that there is inflammation. The seriousness of that should never be underestimated.

    Please do not take this as me trying to scare or trying to tell you what to do. I am sharing experience and advice I have had. There is a yahoo group for feline asthma and inhaled steroids. They are excellent and extremely helpful.
     
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