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Lance is a 5-year-old, neutered male cat who suffers from chronic coughing.
Over the course of several months, his veterinarian prescribed antibiotics and antihistamines, but his cough did not subside. When Lance began wheezing, his veterinarian performed a series of diagnostic tests, and he was diagnosed with feline asthma.
Asthma is a common feline condition, so veterinarians see cats like Lance every week.
Here's a look at why it happens — and what veterinarians will do to combat the problem.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes the narrowing of the airways in a cat’s lungs.
Inhaled particles known as allergens are believed to be the cause of feline asthma. Once cats have been exposed and sensitized to a particular allergen, they develop the following classic features of asthma:
The common symptoms of asthma include:
Cat owners often confuse asthma-induced coughing with vomiting or "hacking up” a hairball. Felines who have asthma will forcefully cough, and this is often followed by retching or gagging. In some cases, the asthmatic coughing may even produce foam, saliva or regurgitated food.
Veterinarians will use a combination of medical history, bloodwork, fecal tests, chest X-rays and an airway sampling to confirm a diagnosis of feline asthma.
It's also important to look at other potential underlying medical conditions — such as heartworm disease — that can affect the lungs and cause similar signs in cats.
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