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Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Feline asthma, also commonly known as feline bronchitis is a common disease diagnosed in small animal veterinary practice. There is a wide range in
16 Aug 2008 12:00

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Feline asthma, also commonly known as feline bronchitis is a common disease diagnosed in small animal veterinary practice. There is a wide range in the signs with which the cat is presented for exam. Symptoms can be from mild occasional dry cough to severe wheezing and persistent coughing as well as rapid breathing and inappetence.
Bronchitis can develop in cats of any age though the incidence is higher in young adults and middle aged animals. Owners are questioned with regards to exposure to possible allergens such as perfumed cat litter, cigarette smoke, or other household perfumed items such as hair spray.
Often the exact cause may not be found but possible causative agents besides allergens are bacterial and mycoplasmal infections as well as lung parasites and heart worm.
Though radiology and other diagnostic techniques can be used to find the exact cause often financial constraints of the owner result in most cats being given a blanket treatment .
The lung worm that can cause bronchitis is found in the lungs of domestic cats in most parts of the world. A variety of species of slugs and snails play a role as intermediate hosts in the development of the parasite.
Cats are infected by eating these hosts. In most infections the cat may show no clinical signs at all but a few cases do result in the signs known as feline asthma.
The cat can be found to adopt a posture that will facilitate maximum breathing ability where the animal may either be sitting or standing upright with its front legs spread apart and neck stretched out like a giraffe. Often a single treatment with an injection of ivermectin, once the animal has been stabilised, is enough to result in complete elimination of the infection.
Cats presented in severe respiratory distress are first stabilised with steroid injections and sometimes oxygen therapy.
Bronchodialators which improve airway constriction are also injected and the cat is monitored closely till breathing normalises.
As mycoplasmal infections are difficult to diagnose, cats are put on a treatment with an antibiotic called doxycyline as well as being given a cover for lung worms.
The animal is sent home with steroid tablets and owners are encouraged to give steam therapy or otherwise put the cat in the bathroom with a hot shower running so that the steam can also soothe the dry and inflamed airways in the cat’s lungs.
Owners are also asked to investigate the possibility of an allergic bronchitis.
Reactions to smoke and perfumed cat litter need to be tested.
Even if the cat is not allergic to smoke, it is obvious that exposure to it can worsen existing cases under treatment because of its local irritating effect. So no smoking near the sick kitty!
You can replace perfumed cat litter with plain clay or sand litter.
Mold and dust can be reduced indoors by carpet, drapery and furniture cleaning. Be patient- it may take up to a fortnight to see the benefits from environmental changes.
While most cases that are seen early are completely cured, a lot of cases that are left without treatment become chronic and require ongoing treatment.
If the cat is not found to stabilise on the above mentioned treatments and instead keeps getting worse on increased doses of steroids, diagnostic tests will definitely need to be conducted.

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