Feline asthma and bronchitis cause narrowing and swelling of the airways in the lungs. If left untreated, death may occur in severe cases. Our Long Island vets tell you all about treating feline asthma with an inhaler.
Treating Feline Asthma
To treat feline asthma, cats are prescribed corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and, in many cases, bronchodilators to open the airways during asthma attacks.
Traditionally, these medications have been given as oral medications or injections. However, inhaled medications are a better option for treating cat asthma because the medication targets the airways directly, instead of needing to be processed by the body first. There are also fewer potential side effects when using inhaled medications compared to oral or injected medications, making it the preferred method of treatment for many veterinarians and pet owners.
Just like inhalers are used to treat asthma in humans, inhalers can be used to treat asthma in cats. It's important to be familiar with how to use a cat inhaler in order to make sure your cat gets the medication they need.
For many, the thought of using a mask on their cat is terrifying. However, most cats, including the grumpy ones, are accepting and can learn and love to use an inhaler mask. It certainly can be easier than trying to give your cat a pill, especially when in distress (like during an asthma attack).
What Does Feline Asthma 'Look' Like
Cats suffering from asthma may show signs of difficulty breathing, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing or hacking, open-mouthed breathing, or vomiting. These signs can vary in intensity, ranging from acute respiratory crises to chronic, low-grade coughing, elevated respiratory rate, or increased respiratory effort.
These signs may happen spontaneously or they may be elicited by pressing lightly on the cat’s throat area. During an asthma attack, many cats hunch their body close to the ground and extend their necks forward.
How To Give A Feline Asthma Inhaler To Your Cat
Before Administering The Inhaler
It is best to get your cat used to the device before trying to administer any medications. Familiarizing your cat with the chamber and mask helps when it's needed in emergency situations and makes it less likely for your cat to get frightened and resist the device.
Make the experience as positive as possible for your pet. Use the condition, love, reward approach to help your cat adjust.
- Slowly and calmly familiarize them with the chamber (before administering a dose).
- Give your cat hugs, pets, and cuddles before, during, and after treatment.
- Reward your cat with treats before and after treatment, especially when familiarizing your cat with the device.
- Start by just using the mask, and gradually build up to holding it on your cat's face for 20-30 seconds. Once your cat becomes comfortable with the mask, attach it to the chamber and familiarize your cat with the entire device.
Is there a specific type of inhaler for cats?
The inhaled medications used to manage feline asthma and bronchitis - corticosteroids and bronchodilators - are human medications, and they are delivered using a special aerosol chamber designed for cats. The inhaler canister attaches at one end of the chamber, and the cat's mouth and nose are covered by a soft face mask at the other end of the chamber.
How To Give The Inhaler To Your Cat
Once your cat is familiar with the mask and spacer, medications can be administered. Follow these simple steps to give your cat an inhaler using the AeroKat* Chamber:
- Shake the inhaler and insert it into the back of the chamber
- Gently apply the mask to your cat's face, covering the mouth and nose
- Depress the inhaler to release the medication
- Count 7-10 breaths, then remove it from your cat's face
- After treatment, use a damp cloth to remove any residual medication on the fur
If your vet has prescribed more than one puff of medication per treatment, wait 30 seconds before shaking and administering the next puff. Do not administer all prescribed puffs at once.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.