Feline Asthma – What is it, and how can you help?

Feline Lower Airway Disease (FLAD)

Feline lower airway disease is used to describe conditions that affect the lower respiratory tract in cats. These conditions include bronchial diseases, chronic bronchitis, feline asthma, bronchial asthma, and allergic asthma. Distinction between the conditions can be done by specific testing available at your veterinarian clinic.

What is feline asthma?

It is estimated that 1% of cats suffer from asthma which occurs more frequently in female cats.[1] Asthma is reversible inflammation of the small airways in the lungs (i.e. bronchioles). It is similar to asthma in humans and begins with a mild cough. If not treated, it may progress to your cat being in distress with coughing, wheezing, loud and rapid breathing, and exercise intolerance. Symptoms, generally noticed between the ages of 2 to 6, are often overlooked and mistaken for hairballs due to the coughing and wheezing. Asthma is often associated with inflammation due to irritants or allergens in the environment which causes an increase in mucus in the lungs constricting the small airways. As a result, your cat will have trouble breathing.

What triggers a feline asthma attack?

Asthma attacks can be caused by a variety of sources. Allergens in the air, temperature changes, and exercise can all trigger attacks. Some allergens that are frequently associated with asthma include grass, tree pollen, fumes, cigarettes, dust, smoke, perfumes, and various sprays. Attacks may also be worse in cats that are overweight.

How is asthma in cats diagnosed?

It is important to take your cat to the veterinarian if you think your cat may have asthma. The veterinarian can listen to your cat’s lungs using a stethoscope to detect crackling and whistling due to excess mucus or inflamed airways. They will also need to know as much information about your cat and his environment as possible. The veterinarian may identify the cause or trigger of your cat’s asthma with the information you provide him. A chest x-ray can also be done to view the chest wall and lungs of your cat.

Preventative measures to decrease the chance of asthma attacks in cats

There are many changes that can be made to your home to prevent an asthma attack in your cat. Dust-free cat litter is a great first step in removing a source of allergens. Replacing filters on heating units and air conditioners can also help keep the air in your home clean. The winter season can be troublesome for your cat’s asthma due to the extreme temperature and dry air. Limit outdoor exposure during winter months in order to avoid these and use a humidifier inside during dry seasons to help prevent attacks. Many cat owners never identify the allergen responsible for triggering asthma attacks. If you can find the trigger, try to remove it as best as possible, but there are treatment options available if needed.

How to treat feline asthma

The goals of treating feline asthma are to reduce inflammation, airway constriction, and mucus production while trying to identify and remove the allergen(s) causing the asthma symptoms in order to prevent airway damage.[2] Feline asthma is often treated with bronchodilators and corticosteroids.


Aminophylline and terbutaline are two medications that are taken by mouth which act as bronchodilators to open the airways in the lungs. Albuterol (Proair® or Ventolin®) are popular inhaled bronchodilators. These medications are fast-acting and can help relax the muscles causing the closed airways. These are often used when your cat is having an asthma attack.

Albuterol will help your cat during an asthma attack within 5 to 10 minutes of use. If the attack reoccurs, the medication can be used every half-hour or as needed for your cat. Albuterol can cause increased heart rate, excitability, weight loss, and tremors; however, these occur infrequently in most cats. If your cat is having asthma attacks often, your cat may need a medication such as a glucocorticoid to prevent or reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.


Glucocorticoids are used to decrease the inflammation in your cat’s lungs in order to prevent asthma attacks. Prednisone, prednisolone, and methylprednisolone are common examples of oral glucocorticoids. Fluticasone (Flovent®) is an example of an inhaled corticosteroid.

Fluticasone is commonly used every 12 hours to maintain healthy airways in your cat. It is used with a breathing mask, such as an AeroKat Feline Aerosol Chamber, to ensure the medication is inhaled. Fluticasone can be found as 44, 110, and 220 mcg per actuation, but the 110 mcg strength is most commonly used in feline asthma. Unlike albuterol, fluticasone can take 10 to 14 days to achieve the full benefits.1 Prednisolone can be given during this time until the fluticasone is fully effective.

Why use inhaled medication for feline asthma?

Medications given by mouth are not ideal for the treatment and prevention of asthma in cats due to the increased risk of side effects. Oral medications can alter blood sugars, which may be problematic with cats who have diabetes. They can also increase the risk of inflammation of the pancreas and are poorly tolerated. Inhaled medications help avoid some of these side effects by acting directly on the lungs and airways.

AeroKat for Feline Asthma

Courtesy of www.todaysveterinarypractice.com

Optimize your cat’s treatment using the AeroKat Feline Aerosol Chamber

AeroKat Feline Aerosol Chamber for cats is an easy-to-use device that helps deliver medications for the treatment of asthma, allergic rhinitis, or chronic bronchitis. The chamber is used with a metered-dose inhaler like albuterol or fluticasone. The chamber is used to hold the puff of medication while your cat breathes normally to inhale all of the medication. Without the chamber, the medication can be lost in the air, and your cat may not get the full benefit of the medication needed. The AeroKat Feline Aerosol Chamber can help your cat get the medication he needs to feel better and breathe normally.


[1] Tasi, A. (2014, April 13). Another furball? It might be feline asthma. 

[2] Sharp, C. (2014, March/April). Treatment of feline lower airway disease. Today’s Veterinary Practice, 4(2), 28-32.


Treatment for Asthma in Cats

A serious respiratory disease in human beings, asthma also affects our pets. Of course the condition is more difficult to diagnose in our furry friends, especially if they’re cats. Swallowing and coughing up their own hairballs is quite common for felines. And since coughing and wheezing are the two most common symptoms of feline asthma, the disorder is difficult to detect until your pet has a major asthma attack.

Only about one percent of cats suffer from feline asthma, which is about seven times less than the asthma rate for human beings. However, most veterinarians agree that the rate is likely much higher than the stated number for cats, as most of them have yet to be diagnosed. So, how can you tell if your cat has asthma before it’s too late?

It is also important to note that asthmatic attacks can be caused by indoor allergens, such as carpet deodorizers, aerosol sprays, kitty litter dust, and tobacco smoke. So, if you cat starts hacking away shortly after you start using a new housecleaning or freshening product, stop using it and take your animal to his doctor for testing. Additionally, if your cat coughs and wheezes incessantly when the seasons changes, particularly in the spring, it may be the result of seasonal triggers.

If the attack is properly treated, your pet should make a full recovery. However, he will not be out of the proverbial woods. Feline asthma is a chronic condition that is characterized by chronic, often seasonal attacks. The diseases cannot be cured, but treatment for asthma in cats starts with the right prescription medications. What are they?

Ventolin HFA (albuterol sulfate) Treatment for Asthma in Cats

If your pet has been diagnosed with feline asthma, it is imperative you have an AeroKat aerosol chamber and albuterol inhaler on hand should your cat suffer a sudden, acute respiratory attack. The active ingredient in most of these inhalers is call albuterol sulfate, which is a bronchodilator that makes it easier for air to make it into and out of your cat’s lungs.

Although this prescription medication can be expensive, it should only be used as needed; in other words, it should last a long time. Like any new medicine, make sure you speak to your veterinarian before you administer it. If he or she gives you the greenlight, only use this product when your cat is in the midst of an asthma attack. This drug is not a curative that must be taken every day, but rather an emergency medication that may have serious side effects when it is administered on a regular basis.

Your pet’s veterinarian may also prescribe Flovent (fluticasone), a corticosteroids, which is used daily as a treatment for asthma in cats. While fluticasone may help prevent the symptoms of asthma in your cat, this drug does not cure asthma and should not be used during an asthma attack. The above described drug albuterol should be used during an asthma attack in cats.

Cyclosporine Capsules and Liquid for Cats

Designed to treat a wide range of immune diseases, including allergies and overactive immune system, Cyclosporine is a possible alternative to steroids, which generally have a longer list of side effects. Available in both liquid and capsule form, this perscription medication has proven highly effective at treating feline asthma and preventing serious respiratory attacks. It may also help heal atopic dermatitis and anal fistulas in pets.

Theophylline for Cats

Any cat that suffers from incessant coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath or labored breathing can safely and regularly take Theophylline tablets. This prescription medication helps relax the air passages of the lungs, making it easier for your pet to breathe in and breathe out. It should be administered on a daily basis before or after meals, or as directed by your veterinarian. Do you best to follow the dosing schedule to the letter, but never, ever double dose if you happen to miss one.

Help Asthma in Cats with the AeroKat

Heard the buzz about how humans and animals share many common diseases? In a recent book, “Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing,” UCLA cardiologist, Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz writes about the diseases we share with animals — including heart disease and skin cancer — and how doctors and veterinarians can learn from each other to save more lives on both sides.

One disease that humans and cats share is asthma. Studies show that about 1% of adult domestic cats in America have feline asthma, also known as allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, or chronic bronchitis.

What are the symptoms of asthma in cats?

Symptoms of feline asthma can be infrequent or chronic and can vary in intensity. Look for:

  • wheezing
  • labored breathing
  • dry, hacking cough
  • panting
  • open mouth breathing

Can we cure asthma in cats?

Asthma is a chronic, progressive disease without a cure. The good news is that there are remedies for asthma in cats that help manage the disease and let many cats live long, happy lives. There are many oral and inhaled prescription medications that ease the symptoms of feline asthma. Talk with your veterinarian about the best option for your cat.

How can a cat use an inhaler?

Some of the most effective feline asthma medications, like Flovent and Proventil, get right into the lungs because they are inhaled. But how can a cat use an inhaler?!  Many of our customers think that’s impossible…. until they hear about the AeroKat.

The AeroKat Feline Aerosol Chamber makes it easy to deliver inhaled medication to your cat. This amazing invention combines a mask and respiration counter into a convenient device that works with a standard Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) (many people call it a “puffer”) of your cat’s prescription medicine.

The AeroKat comes with two sizes of masks that are designed to fit any breed or size of cat. Place the mask over you cat’s mouth, make sure you have a good seal, activate the puffer, then use the convenient Flow-Vu Indicator to count your cat’s inhalations of the medication.

The AeroKat:

  • Effectively delivers the right amount of inhaled medication to your cat
  • Makes it easy to count respiration with the Flow-Vu Indicator
  • Is easy to clean 

There are plenty of online videos that can help you train your cat to use – and even like – the AeroKat

Has the AeroKat worked for your feline friend? We’d like to hear what you think about this product. Please share your experience using the AeorKat in the comments section below.

In good health,


Cleaning AeroKat: How To

We know many of you have found success using the AeroKat Inhaler combined with a metered dose inhaler for asthma treatment in your cat.  Your veterinarian may have suggested the spacer during an examination of your wheezing and coughing cat, common symptoms of asthmatic cats, or you may have asked your veterinarian about alternatives to prednisone injections or pills because of the unwanted side effects.

Cleaning AeroKat Instructions

Cleaning AeroKat PDF Courtesy of Trudell Animal Health

AeroKat Directions for Use

As successful as the AeroKat has been when used for feline asthma, here at VetRxDirect, we get a lot of questions about cleaning AeroKat Aerosol Chamber. We always suggest to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions included with the spacer.  If you’ve misplaced your copy, you can find the AeroKat Instructions for Use and Cleaning PDF from the manufacturer, Trudell Animal Health.

Today, we wanted to share with you the most common issue other AeroKat customers have shared with us when they clean their pet’s Feline Aerosol Chamber- A stuck Flow-vu Indicator.


AeroKat’s Flow-vu Indicator


The Flow-vu Indicator’s job is to provide a visual cue to you when your cat takes a breath.  It allows you to count the number of breaths and may help you make a satisfactory seal between your pet’s muzzle and the mask.

While this piece of the AeroKat is not critical to the delivery of inhalers, it can be challenging to confirm your pet is breathing in his or her medication without the indicator.  This is why the minor issue of a stuck indicator makes for a bad day.  No worries, if your pet’s spacer indicator should stick after washing, simply wash it again, but this time allow the spacer to completely dry with the indicator open.  This is done by drying the mask adapter with the mask side down.

With proper cleaning and occasional replenishment of the replacement mask, your cat’s AeroKat should last the life of your pet.

And of course, these directions are useful and can be used for the AeroDawg as well.


AeroKat Available for Shipment Today from VetRxDirect

If your veterinarian has recommended a spacer and puffer for your asthmatic cat, or if you need a replacement mask, please visit our AeroKat product page.  We offer free, fast same-day shipping from Iowa and expedited shipping options are available as well.  We also sell the most common inhaler medications like Flovent and Albuterol.

Have you been using an AeroKat?  Do you have any suggestions on how to wash the device?  Maybe you have hints on how to introduce the spacer to cats?  Leave a message in the comments section below and we all can learn from experience.

Have a great day,

Wes Hepker