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Symptoms of Feline Asthma

Although feline asthma affects more than one percent of cats worldwide, this respiratory condition is not always so easy to diagnose. The severity of symptoms can vary from cat to cat, and even your own pet may have symptoms that only occur sporadically. Asthma is a progressive condition that will not improve on its own, so it’s best to keep an eye out for any signs that your cat might be suffering before they experience a full asthma attack.

Asthma symptoms in cats

Asthma occurs when your cat’s immune system becomes overreactive to a particular irritant or allergen. This results in inflammation of the lungs and their airways (bronchi), and often the creation of mucus in the lungs that is then released into the airways.

The severity of the immune response will determine the severity of your cat’s symptoms. Some cats with asthma might only ever suffer from the occasional cough or slight wheezing. Others may seem lethargic, especially after exercising, as they have trouble getting enough oxygen through the constricted airways. These symptoms may come and go sporadically or may build in severity over time.

The signs of an asthma attack are similar but much more intense, and should not be ignored. During an asthma attack, a cat will usually crouch with its head forward, extending its neck while struggling to breathe. The breathing will be shallow and rapid, and they may also have foamy mucus around the nose and mouth. A severe asthma attack should be considered a medical emergency and requires urgent intervention. If left untreated this may result in sudden collapse, blue lips and gums, and even death.


There is no specific test that will allow your vet to diagnose for asthma, instead, they will have to rely on the symptoms that have presented, a physical exam, and on chest x-rays.

Your vet will need to know any past instances of breathing troubles, coughing or wheezing. Of course, if your cat has been brought to the vet following a severe asthma attack, this will make the diagnosis easier. During the physical exam, your vet will check for any cough that is prompted by rubbing the cat’s throat and will listen to the lungs with a stethoscope for wheezing or other abnormal lung sounds.

There are also a number of other conditions that have similar respiratory symptoms to asthma, which your vet will need to rule out. Heartworm disease, bronchitis, heart disease, and infections may all cause breathing problems in cats.

Symptoms of Feline Asthma

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