Does your cat have fits of dry cough, accompanied by wheezing and breathing difficulty? Is your cat Himalayan or Siamese? Has he been exposed to harmful or irritating airborne substances? If so, it's possible that he has feline bronchial asthma.
Feline bronchial asthma is an acute respiratory disease that closely resembles its human counterpart. Feline bronchial asthma is characterized by spontaneous constriction of the bronchial passages. The coughing and wheezing are caused when the cat's airways begin to spasm when touched by an inhaled environmental allergen or irritant. Feline bronchial asthma is usually sparked by an unknown cause.
Cats with acute onset of respiratory distress should be taken to the vet immediately, because many ailments (from heart failure to cancer) can produce respiratory distress and coughing. X-rays and an endoscopic examination are often performed. When coughing is continual, cough suppressants may be considered. Bronchodilators, supportive oxygen therapy, adrenaline, and/or cortisone may be immediately administered to relieve he bronchial spasm and allow the cat to breathe more freely. In severe cases, your cat may be sedated and hospitalized overnight.
If an offending allergen can be blamed, your vet will ask you to remove it from your cat's environment, an impossible task if your cat is allergic to the pollen thrown off by the neighborhood plants. In such cases, or in instances where the cause remains unknown, be prepared to administer low doses of oral cortisone every other day, perhaps for the rest of your cat's life.
Though bronchial asthma may be controlled, it cannot be cured. The cat's airways will always be prone to convulsing in the presence of specific allergens. You can keep your cat more comfortable by keeping your house as dust-free as possible (electronic airfilters may prove helpful for this). Certain types of indoor plants may need to be removed, whereas others may be helpful. You should avoid using room deodorizers, strong chemical cleansers, and fabric softeners, and try not to smoke around your cat.
If you know a particular allergen sparks your cat's asthma, try to keep your cat away from it. Cats with feline bronchial asthma should be kept inside. Antioxidants such sulfur and vitamins A and C are often helpful in treating respiratory allergies and in reducing the frequency and/or amount of cortisone therapy.