Cat Asthma?

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sarie
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Cat Asthma?

Post by sarie »

Hey guys, is anyone familiar with Cat Asthma at all? I'm going to take Harvey in to the vets next week to get some tests done I think as I have a feeling he may have this but there's no way to be sure until the vets rule out other things.

He's been quite a coughy cat since I got him as a baby (he's 4 now, nearly 5); he tends to just randomly have a dry coughing fit every now and then where he squats down and sticks his neck out and coughs for a few minutes and is then fine. I witness this maybe once a week but given I'm at work all day it maybe happens more often than I'm aware of. Usually drinking brings it on too.

He also has quite raspy breathing occasionally and wheezes when he's sleeping but again, this isn't all the time and doesn't seem to bother him.

However, recently he's had two incidents (one was last night) that I can only describe as attacks of some sort. Last night he came in after being outside and his breathing was very laboured. He hunched up on the floor with his neck out and when I listened to his lungs you could hear how rough they sounded. He was making horrible raspy burbly noises with every breath and didn't want to be handled. I offered him some treats to see just how bad he was as usually he wolfs these and he attempted to chew them but it obstructed his breathing so much he just spat them out and continued to breathe badly. I brought him upstairs as I wanted to keep an eye on him as it was late and I was going to bed. After about 40 minutes things settled down and he was back to his usual self and now he's fine again as if nothing happened and his breathing sounds normal.
This has happened once before too, a few weeks ago - I thought it was a one off but obviously not.

I suspect he may have cat asthma and I know once the vet did mention this after I discussed his tendency to cough but we didn't take it any further as he had no other issues and his lungs sounded clear at the time.
I didn't want to subject him to a load of tests unnecessarily as some are quite invasive so I'd been avoiding this but I'm worried that whatever is up with him is progressing and it could become serious in future if it's not addressed now so it looks like he's going to have to go through the testing process but I feel really bad for him, poor thing.
I'll give the vet a call on Monday and get him booked in.

In the meantime, I just wondered if any of you have cats with cat asthma and what's involved with it or if you have cats with similar symptoms who were diganosed with something different?

Sorry for the wall of text.
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by andtiggertoo »

I had a cat with feline asthma. I would advise you to get him to the vet sooner rather than later.

Yes, some of the tests are invasive, but if he does have asthma, then bear in mind every time he has an attack, it damages the tissues a little bit more. It's frightening for him, and for you.

Check his breathing rate when he's asleep - not when he's awake or purring. It should be around 20 breaths a minute. On a bad day, Fred's breathing was around 50.

We got him stabilised on a regime of inhaled steroids twice a day, which suited him well. He had oral steroids to start with, but if you can use the inhaled ones they are better because they go straight to the lungs and bypass all the other organs.

This does mean that going away is a bit of a nightmare. We were lucky as one of the nurses from our vet's surgery was happy to come and stay here while we were away and look after him and she wasn't remotely fazed by having to administer an inhaler to a cat. Fortunately he was a very tactile cat and he just thought it was another, albeit a bit odd, sort of a cuddle.
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by andtiggertoo »

Someone else asked about feline asthma a few weeks ago, and I pointed them to the direction of the Yahoo group. This is US based, but very helpful and friendly. The only thing you'll struggle with is that they'll tell you to make your boy indoor-only. Our Fred was very much an outdoor and indoor cat, and that was the way he stayed - his life wouldn't have been worth living from his point of view if we had kept him in.
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sarie
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by sarie »

Thanks andtiggertoo :) I've booked him in for next week so we'll see if we can get to the bottom of it... if it is asthma at least there's treatment for it.

He's insured with PetPlan too so hopefully I'll be able to get any long term treatment covered. I hope the fact I mentioned it to the vet a few years ago doesn't mean it goes down as a pre-existing condition - it was never looked into or diagnosed but I know insurance companies like to wiggle out of things.

I didn't realise every attack did damage, poor little guy :( It's only become worse very recently but he spent 5 months living with my parents indoors while I was organising relocating to Scotland so he put on about 1kg and got quite out of shape; I wonder if that's made his issues worse - I've only had him living with me again for 2 months.

I'd be devastated to have to keep Harv indoors only as, like your Fred, he's very much an outdoor and indoor cat and he lives to be outside. However, what I've already been looking at doing is cat proofing the garden so if it turns out he does has asthma then I will 100% go ahead with cat proofing as at least then he'll have a safe environment and won't be able to over exert himself. I feel awful for not getting him tested years ago but he's just never seemed that affected so I didn't think much of it; it's only these attacks that have really made me worry for him.
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by andtiggertoo »

For the inhaler, google Fritz the Brave and have a look at the video.
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sarie
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by sarie »

Hmm so not great news! Harv is 6.4kg.. Last time he was weighed he was only 4.9kg so he's a bit fat.. He spent 5 months living with my parents indoors when I was relocating so I knew he'd gained weight (he's now on a diet) but that's worse than I expected.
As a result of his weight, unless his attacks keep happening the vet would prefer not to sedate him for diagnostics until he's shed a kilo.
The vet also says he has a squeaky heart; she said not to worry but that it could mean his valves aren't opening and closing properly so she'd like to investigate that too when he's lighter.
I know breathing issues can be connected to heart problems, do you think there's a chance his symptoms are linked and he perhaps doesn't have asthma? Or perhaps the poor guy has two issues now instead of just the one I thought we were dealing with!
Thankfully he's a fairly healthy, happy cat other than these issues so I'll work hard to get his weight down and then get his heart and lungs investigated further.
Advice appreciated as always :)
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Beanie
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by Beanie »

Hi Sarrie.
Sorry to read about Harv. Did the vet suggest a scan &/or X-Ray? The scan should be able to determine if he has asthma or any heart problems. The X-Ray could indicate if, God Forbid, he has the possibility of cancer. The symptoms you describe mirror our cat Tiggy (see my thread on 'Health & Behaviour' earlier today); however, the difference is that Tiggy was slowly losing weight as her appetite decreased, so please don't worry unnecessarily but it is good to rule it out. Tiggy had the coughing fits without fur balls. A veterinary check detected 'crackling' in her lungs as opposed to wheezing in her case; we originally suspected an allergy or asthma.

Turning to your insurer. A Pet insurer will only exclude a pre existing condition. It is why people should think extremely carefully if they change insurer if an animal has a pre existing condition. A pre existing condition usually means a condition that existed before they commenced cover. As a general rule - If it happened after the policy had commenced, that should not mean refusal to cover or pay.

If the vet suggested that you needed to do 'XYZ' and you didn't, they could theoretically argue that you have not heeded veterinary advice which might cloud the issue and have exacerbated the problem leading to more cost than was necessary. However, an insurer needs to prove that beyond reasonable doubt; most vets make 'recommendations' not 'requirements' so that tends to make it somewhat subjective.

Hope Harv is on the mend
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by meriad »

I wonder if both his heart and breathing issues are weight related Sarie? As a (fairly urgent) first step I'd try and get as much weight off him to get him back to his ideal weight. Same as with humans, carrying excess weight puts a lot of strain on organs and 1.5kg for a cat is a pretty big weight difference.

Fusses to your boy
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sarie
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by sarie »

Thanks everyone. Unfortunately Harvey had another very bad attack late on Tuesday night and was rushed to the vet at 2am as he was turning blue. He has since had x-rays and they have confirmed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He is half Maine Coon so it looks likely the cause was hereditary. He has had beta blockers and diuretics to dry out his lungs as they had filled with fluid but it looks like HCM was diagnosed too late and he is now suffering from severe congestive heart failure.
He's only 5 years old so I'm in complete shock, I'm having trouble processing the reality of it all as it looks like his life expectancy is going to be months rather than years.
Completely heartbroken.
Do any of you have any experience with CHF at all? :(
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by Kay »

I'm so sorry to hear your news

I have no direct experience, but found the Yahoo group for HT in cats so useful, that I wonder if the feline heart group might be able to advise you

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/feline-heart/info" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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sarie
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by sarie »

Thanks Kay, there looks to be some great information on there, thank you so much.
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by meriad »

I am so sorry Sarie :( ; I have no experience of CHF at all but thinking of you and Harvey. ((hug))
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by Crewella »

I'm so sorry - I have no experience either. Wish I could help. (((hugs)))
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sarie
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by sarie »

Thanks guys, it's been a bit of a whirlwind this week due to a family emergency in addition to finding out about Harvey so I'm a bit shellshocked.

I've got the little guy home now and I'm trying to rest him up for a few days. Bless him, he's all shaved from all the different tests he's had done. He's gone into full blown cling mode and won't leave my side but I've had to leave him to go to work Today.. it was very hard to do.

I'm having to come up with some novel solutions to his tablets as he has to take 4 tablets a day now for the rest of his little life but he's easily the worst cat I've ever had to tablet. Worse, I can't use the usual tricks like cheese or ham because he can't eat any of that anymore as he has to be on a low sodium diet and I don't want to force tablets into him as the stress could do him more harm than good. Given it's now got to be a daily thing and I may not have a great deal of time left with him I'd rather it was a pleasant experience for us all.

Experimenting with a number of things right now and some are working, some are not. Hopefully in time we'll find a happy medium. I feel sorry for my other little cat Clive too as I unknowingly have found myself shooing him away and telling him off for bothering Harvey - once I realised I was doing it I stopped myself and have been giving him a lot of fuss but it's very tough :(
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Re: Cat Asthma?

Post by andtiggertoo »

So sorry to hear your news. I have no experience with CHF either, but I wish you and Harvey all the best. x

We have a cat who is a nightmare to medicate as well, so I know where you're coming from!
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