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Dwarfism In Cats
Black cat with asthma mask

Cat Asthma: What It Is, Symptoms & Treatment

3 min read

Just like us humans, cats can get asthma. We know how asthma manifests in us but what is cat asthma and how do you know if your cat has it?

Knowing if your cat has asthma can help you give them a better quality of life. Keep reading for our guide on cat asthma and the information you should be aware of.

What is cat asthma?

Cat asthma is a condition that causes chronic, progressive inflammation of a cat’s lower airways. It’s usually caused by allergens that are inhaled, which then cause mucus accumulation and the narrowing of the airways. Cats will usually cough and wheeze as a result of their asthma; this can occur during acute asthma ‘attacks’ or more persistently at a lower level, with many cats showing a combination of the two.

What are the symptoms of cat asthma?

Knowing the symptoms of feline asthma means that you will know what to look out for if you’re concerned about your cat. The symptoms, or clinical signs, you should look out for are:

  • Cat coughing
  • Wheezing 
  • Hacking or gagging
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Fast breathing
  • Vomiting in cats
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Blue-ish lips or gums
  • Gasping for breath (possibly with neck extended upwards)
  • Frothy mucus when they cough

Your cat may have some but not all of these, depending on how severe their cat asthma is. Signs like open-mouth breathing, blue-tinged gums, gasping and breathing difficulties are particularly concerning. It’s important to take your cat to the vet if they show any of these signs, as asthma often worsens over time and can become life-threatening. Your vet will be able to rule out other causes, determine the severity of your cat’s asthma and discuss treatment. 

What causes cat asthma?

Cat asthma is thought to be caused by an allergy or sensitivity to inhaled allergen particles that trigger a cat’s immune system and result in inflammation of the airways. With cats that are affected by asthma, stress or anxiety can also cause flare-ups. Inflammation of the airways can reduce air flow and cause breathing difficulties, and is worse during acute flare-ups and as the condition progresses. 

What is the treatment of cat asthma?

Treatment for feline asthma can be in the form of an inhaler, injections or pills. Your vet is most likely to prescribe corticosteroids, which are potent anti-inflammatories. They may also recommend other medications: for example, bronchodilators to help open up the airways.
With any treatment, make sure to listen to the vet’s advice and ask how to best administer the drugs if you’re unsure. Using an inhaler for pets is different to that for humans and will require training, so keep this in mind.

Is cat asthma curable?

Cat asthma is not a curable disease and will typically progress over time. However, with the right treatment and management of the condition, asthmatic cats can live long and happy lives.

What do I do if my cat has an asthma attack?

If your cat has an asthma attack, give them any medication that’s been prescribed by your vet for use during an attack. If the attack is severe, you must contact your vet and take your cat to the surgery. Try to keep your cat calm as they will be stressed, which can make the attack worse; it’s important to stay calm yourself to reassure your cat. Ensure they’re in a well-ventilated area with lots of fresh air.

What does a severe cat asthma attack look like?

If your cat is wheezing or hacking and you can see their sides moving in and out, they’re likely having a severe asthma attack. They could also be drooling and producing frothy mucus.

What does a minor cat asthma attack look like?

If your cat is coughing and wheezing, it’s likely that they’re having a minor asthma attack. They might also be holding their neck out and close to the ground.

In any of these cases, it’s important to try and keep your cat calm. Stress is never good for an asthma attack and can worsen the symptoms.

Is cat asthma contagious?

Cat asthma is not contagious to other pets as it’s an allergic condition. Humans cannot catch asthma from cats either.

Can cat asthma be prevented?

As cat asthma is an allergic condition that can develop in response to a wide range of very common allergens, it’s not possible to avoid it. However, there are ways to ensure your cat’s asthma is less likely to be triggered. These are:

  • Make sure your home is well-ventilated with lots of fresh air
  • Avoid smoking around your cat
  • Avoid using diffusers, perfumes and aerosols in their presence
  • Provide your cat with a well-balanced dietobesity in cats is not good for their asthma
  • Avoid using cat litter that creates a dust


We hope this guide on cat asthma was helpful. Asthma is a condition that needs long-term management, but with the right care your cat will be able to live life to the fullest.

Next, see our guide on vestibular disease in cats.