Cat asthma is a very serious ailment that can result in death if left untreated by a vet or with the help of natural remedies. Just like us, cats can get asthma too. Asthma is caused by an allergy to something. That allergen causes your body to react negatively. Feline asthma is one of the most common ailments in cats, and it's typically caused by something the owner is doing. While there is no cure for asthma (yet), you can manage it with various pharmaceutical, behavioral, and holistic remedies.
Stress, cigarette smoke, perfume, and mold in a home can create a perfect storm for your asthmatic cat. Other similar irritants are no safer; it's probably best to stay away from air fresheners, scented candles, and hair sprays as well. Because asthma is a respiratory disease, there are few home remedies to alleviate the sickness. However, an owner can make several procedures and changes to their cat's immediate environment to greatly reduce the risk of asthma irritation or an attack. We'll discuss the causes and effects of asthma, when you should see a vet, and what you can do to manage it. It all starts with identifying the causes of your cat's asthma attacks. Read on to find it all out!
What Is Cat Asthma?
Feline asthma is a condition in which the airways swell and narrow. It often causes excessive mucus production, further blocking their windpipe. It may cause respiratory distress in extreme cases, a potentially fatal condition in which fluid leaks into the lungs.
Asthma can be very serious, but it is also the most commonly diagnosed respiratory disease in cats, affecting 5% of the feline population. This means that most veterinarians have lots of experience dealing with this condition, so they can offer a lot of valuable advice.
Cat Asthma vs. Hairballs — Identifying the Difference
Now for an important note to pet owners. It's easy to mistake asthma symptoms for the sound of a hairball coming up. You can tell the difference by the guttural retching and gagging that hairballs cause. It's normal for cats to cough up one or two hairballs a month. If they are hacking one up multiple times a week, you should try a home remedy.
Side Note: Did you know there is a scientific term for a hairball? It's called a trichobezoar, which means "hair antidote" in a combination of Latin and Persian.
What Causes Cat Asthma?
Doctors aren't sure what causes asthma at this point, but they believe it comes from a combination of genetic factors and allergens. As you might have guessed by the name, allergens are substances that cause allergic reactions. They can cause inflammation in the throat, leading to respiratory issues.
Here are some common allergens for cats:
- Food allergies
- Cigarette smoke
- Hair spray
- Air pollutants
- Dust mites
If you think your cat has an allergy, it's a good idea to take them to a vet. The vet can perform tests to determine what allergens affect your cat. They can also prescribe medication to manage the allergy and avoid future issues.
Genetic factors may also contribute to asthma. Certain breeds, especially the Siamese and Himalayan. It's unclear why this is, and further research will be necessary to determine the full range of risk factors. Asthma affects both feline genders equally and typically develops between the ages of 2 and 8.
Symptoms of Cat Asthma
The most common sign of cat asthma is difficulty breathing. If your cat is wheezing, coughing, open-mouth breathing, or hyperventilating, they might be on the verge of an asthma attack, or they may be having one already.
Breathing is the most important thing to monitor, but there are other cat asthma symptoms you should watch out for. Here are the other signs that your cat may have asthma:
- Spitting up mucus
- Blue lips and gums
- Sitting in a crouched position with neck extended
- Lower stamina
Certain factors can make a cat's symptoms much worse. For example, your cat has other illnesses, especially heart and lung issues. Chronic upper respiratory infections are among the most common complicators. Caused by bacteria and viral infections like feline herpesvirus, upper respiratory infections target the nose and throat. Symptoms of an upper respiratory condition
How Severe Is My Cat's Asthma?
If your cat has asthma attacks every day, consider it serious. You should take them to a vet ASAP for an exam and treatment. If their lips or gums turn blue, the situation is extremely difficult, and you should take them to an animal emergency clinic immediately. Do not attempt to treat severe asthma at home.
Of course, you don't want to wait until your cat is in a life-threatening situation to help them. Fortunately, there is a way to forecast your cat's long-term health. If your cat has asthma, ask their vet to evaluate their condition at each annual checkup.
When a vet treats asthmatic cats, they perform a physical exam, blood tests, and an x-ray. Once they know how serious the asthma is, they will work with you to devise a plan for managing it. Home treatments can save your cat from severe attacks.
Cat Asthma Natural Remedies
Natural remedies offer some of the best results for long-term care. A few simple actions can save you and your cat from taking unpleasant medicine too often. The best part is that natural remedies for feline asthma are extremely simple.
Home remedies for asthma focus on lowering the risk of attacks. Unfortunately, it's impossible to put a complete stop to asthma attacks, but you can greatly reduce their frequency. Most of these at-home methods focus on removing triggers from the cat's environment.
Many human products contain allergens that can trigger a feline asthma attack. Common irritants include cigarette smoke, cosmetics, cleaning products, and paint fumes. They also include parasites and fungi, like dust mites and mold.
You should remove these irritants from the rooms where you spend the most time. If you are a smoker, try smoking outside, or in a room your cat doesn't frequent. Keep the bathroom door closed when you do your makeup. Keep them out of freshly cleaned rooms to avoid allergenic cleaning products.
Trial and Error
It will take some trial and error for environmental changes to work. Try taking suspected allergens out of the environment for two weeks to see if that makes a difference. Remove the allergens mentioned above and any scented candles or air fresheners. It's a good idea to get an air purifier for your home as well.
Stressful feelings like fear and anxiety can worsen or even trigger an asthma attack. When an animal senses potential danger, their breathing typically becomes more rapid. You have probably experienced this phenomenon yourself.
Stress triggers the release of specific hormones in the immune system. This can lead to inflammation, potentially blocking the airways and triggering asthma symptoms. Common causes of cat stress include:
- A history of abuse
- Separation from their owner
- New people in the home
- A change of environment like moving or rearranging furniture
- Children being loud or rough with the cat
- Illness or physical pain
Try to remove distressing things from your cat's environment. For example, keep your cat separated from the humans in a quiet room when you have guests over. Offer them a bed for comfort. Give them plenty of toys to distract them from whatever is stressing them out.
You can also help manage your cat's distress with CBD. Its natural, calming effects work in the short term and the long term. A CBD treats or two each day can mellow them out and make them more comfortable in their environment.
Your cat's diet can be a source of allergens that cause inflammation. Ask a vet to identify the allergens that affect your cat. Then, make sure you review the ingredients in your cat's food and look for anything that could trigger their allergies. Common foods that may trigger allergies include meats, dairy products, corn, and artificial additives.
Grains are another source of allergies, and they have no nutritional value to your cat. Many brands of dry food contain large amounts of grain. Cats with allergies should avoid dry food and eat either wet food or a raw diet.
Control Your Cat's Weight
If your cat is overweight or obese, their breathing may be compromised. For cats with asthma, this is especially concerning. Maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your cat's risk of an asthma attack and improve their overall health. Here are some ways you can help your cat lose weight:
- Reduce your cat's portions at mealtime.
- Switch to a healthier brand of cat food (some brands have foods tailored to weight loss).
- Do not practice "free feeding" (leaving a bowl of food out all the time).
- Play with them every day. Use a chasing toy like a laser pointer to help them burn calories. If your cat has serious asthma, physical activities could prompt attacks. Ask a vet about safe exercises you can do with your cat.
Provide Fresh Clean Air Indoors
Clean air lowers your cat's risk of encountering allergens. You can improve the air quality in your home with an air purifier and a dehumidifier. Monitor the local air quality (you can do this on any weather app). If the air quality is over 50, it indicates air pollutants such as wildfire smoke. When this happens, close all your doors and windows to keep these irritants out of the home.
Keep Your House Clean
Cleanliness is vital for maintaining good air quality in your home. You should pay particular attention to dust and mold. Many synthetic cleaners contain allergens to cats, so look for an all-natural alternative.
Supplements & CBD
Certain dietary supplements help to strengthen the immune system, reducing inflammation and irritation. These supplements are most effective when your cat takes them every day. A healthy immune system reduces the risk of an asthma attack. Here are a few of the most popular supplements for feline wellness:
The omega fatty acids in fish oil supplements naturally reduce inflammation. These essential fatty acids are vital to life, but mammal bodies cannot produce them. Therefore, your cat needs to get them through their diet.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hemp seed oil is a good plant-based alternative to fish oil, containing omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9. They are also a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whether your cat has asthma or not, they need to consume some form of omegas.
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is a natural compound in hemp plants. It interacts with receptors in your cat's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps to regulate the immune system, swelling, appetite, sleep, and distress. It is non-intoxicating, so it will not make your cat "high." Instead, it offers soothing benefits that can help your cat deal with the discomfort and distress that accompany any serious health issue.
CBD has become an extremely popular product among pet owners in recent years. These days, you can find CBD in cat treats, capsules, and even shampoo. You can also get CBD tinctures with hemp seed oil! Imagine the incredible benefits you would get from combining these two. Actually, don't bother to imagine it because you can try it with your cat today! Just check out our store.
Preventing Cat Asthma Naturally
Unfortunately, you cannot completely prevent asthma. Researchers are working hard to find a cure, but it hasn't arrived yet. There are allergy vaccines, but they only work after your cat has an allergy, making them more of a remedy than a preventive measure.
The best thing you can do to keep an asthmatic cat safe is to create a healthy environment for them. You have the power to reduce allergens and stress in your cat's life. Let's look at some ways you can support your cat's respiratory health:
Don't Smoke Cigarettes Around Your Cat
We all know cigarette smoke is dangerous for humans, and the facts are no different for our pets. Secondhand smoke is one of the most common causes of asthma attacks. It also raises their risk of other conditions. Particles of smoke can settle on your cat's fur, and they will lick it up as they groom. Ingesting smoke can lead to tumors growing in the throat.
Asthmatic cats show improvement when their owners quit smoking. We understand this is not an easy thing to do, and if you are a smoker, there are still ways you can protect your cat. Smoke outside and keep all doors and windows shut when you do.
Create a Peaceful Environment
A peaceful environment can reduce stress, which may help lower the chances of an asthma attack. Environmental factors are the main cause of their distress. Fortunately, you have power over their environment, and you can make it peaceful for your cat with a few simple measures.
Create comfy spots throughout the household to serve as safe spaces for your cat. Give them a soft bed and provide them with toys to comfort them. Try to reduce as much sound as possible. Keep your cat in a separate room when you do noisy things like using the vacuum cleaner or hosting a party.
Sudden change can be stressful and even scary to cats, who generally prefer consistency. Actions as simple as moving their bowl or litter box can make them confused and nervous. If you want to change your home space, do so slowly. Move only a couple of pieces of furniture at a time, and let your cat explore the space as it gradually changes.
Reduce Strong Aromas Around Your Feline
The fumes from aromatic items like perfume, cleaning sprays, and scented candles can release toxic chemicals into the air. They do so in small quantities, too little for humans to have a serious reaction, but little cats have a much lower tolerance for these allergens.
Today, many candles are made from paraffin wax, which is toxic to cats. Instead, look for candles made with soy wax, coconut wax, or beeswax. As for cleaning products, the best thing you can do is keep your cat out of the room while you clean. Then, open a window and let it air out before letting the cat in.
Provide the Ideal Humidity for Your Cat
Overly humid air can lead to mold growing in your home, introducing a major allergen into your cat's environment. A dehumidifier reduces the moisture level in the air, but you should only use it in spurts. Overly dry air can irritate asthmatic cats. If the air in your home is humid, run the dehumidifier for a couple of hours at a time, but not 'round the clock.
Choose the Right Kitty Litter
Most cat litter is made of clay. Unfortunately, this produces a great deal of dust when your cat kicks it around. This dust can act as an irritant, potentially triggering an asthma attack. If your cat has asthma, we advise you to avoid clay litter.
Fortunately, you have other litter materials to choose from. A good option for asthmatic cats is silica (silicon dioxide). Given its chemical name and the fame of ultra-techy Silicon Valley, you might think silica is a human-made compound, but it's a natural chemical. Silicon dioxide occurs in quartz, as well as most of the sand in the world (and that's a heck of a lot). Best of all, silica litter creates very little dust.
You can also fill your litter box with natural, plant-based litter. Common materials include paper, wood, and walnut shells, all great choices. Some brands of natural litter contain corn, wheat, and grass. You should probably avoid these materials since they are more likely to make your cat have an allergic reaction.
When Not To Use Cat Asthma Natural Remedies and Go to the Vet
Natural remedies for asthma work best in the long term, supporting your cat's physical and mental wellness. Emergencies, on the other hand, require veterinary care. Let's discuss what qualifies as an emergency with that in mind.
The most concerning symptoms of asthma are blue lips and gums. This indicates oxygen deprivation. You should immediately take your cat to an emergency veterinary clinic if you see this sign. If left untreated, this situation will almost certainly be fatal. Hyperventilation (abnormally fast breathing) is another sign that your cat's asthma has reached a serious point, and they need a vet ASAP.
If you aren't sure how serious your cat's asthma symptoms are, we recommend calling the vet anyway to get their professional opinion. It's good to call first because they might know a quick home remedy, saving you a trip to the clinic. Always air on the side of caution, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Can Asthma Affect a Cat's Life Expectancy?
Most cases of asthma are manageable, and with proper care, your cat can lead a normal life. Ensuring their longevity requires closely observing your cat, creating a healthy environment, having remedies on hand, and working with a vet. Asthmatic cats require more hands-on care than most cats, but this will only strengthen the bond between the two of you.
What Can Happen if Feline Asthma Is Left Untreated?
Asthma is much more dangerous if you fail to treat it. Building on the last section, special care is necessary to ensure a long and relatively normal life for an asthmatic cat. If they do not receive that care, they could risk life-threatening conditions. It is important to take preventative measures to reduce your cat's risk of having an asthma attack.
To provide your asthmatic cat with the best care possible:
- Keep them indoors and make your home as comfortable and peaceful as possible.
- Get rid of allergy triggers, clean your home more often, feed them a nutritious diet, and offer supplements and CBD treats.
- Take your cat to the vet for annual appointments, so you know if their condition changes and whether they need medicine.
All these measures put together can make a huge difference in your cat's life expectancy.
Final Thoughts – Cat Asthma Natural Remedies
If your cat has asthma, the most important thing to know is that you are not alone. As we said initially, asthma is the most common respiratory condition in cats. Vets encounter it all the time, so they have numerous ways to treat it. Unfortunately, none of these methods can completely cure your cat's asthma, but they can go a long way toward improving their life.
Some treatments are intensive, but simple natural remedies can offer a great deal of help. They aren't just for cats with asthma, either. Any cat lover out there can support their pet 24/7 by creating a peaceful home environment, seeing the vet regularly, and offering supportive products like HolistaPet's CBD oil and cat treats. Most importantly, spend time with your cat and treat them to a whole lot of love.