Feline Asthma

Asthma in Cats: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prognosis


This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Tiffany Barnsdale BVSc (Hons)

Has your beloved furry friend been diagnosed with asthma? Or do you have asthma and are interested in whether cats can get it too? This guide should provide you with everything you need to know about Asthma in cats.

What is Feline asthma?
Causes of asthma in cats
Further reading

What is Feline Asthma?

Feline or cat asthma is chronic inflammation of the airways. It is very similar to asthma in humans and believed to also be caused by inhaled allergens that then stimulate the cat's immune system.

The immune response causes narrowing of the airways through swelling, constriction and irritation making it very difficult for the cat to breathe.

Causes of Asthma in Cats

Some common allergens that are seen to trigger feline asthma include:

  • Cat litter
  • Mould
  • Pollen
  • Household Chemicals
  • Essential oil diffusers
  • Cigarette Smoke
  • Perfume

Signs of Asthma in Cats

Symptoms of feline asthma can range in severity and include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath (or rapid breathing)
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Fatigue/lethargy

Diagnosis of Feline Asthma

Unfortunately, there is no single test to diagnose feline asthma (which can be very frustrating)! Your vet will do a number of tests to rule out other conditions which cause similar symptoms, like feline heartworm, lungworm, foreign bodies and respiratory infections.

It may also be helpful for your vet if you can get a video of your cat's symptoms such as an episode of coughing before taking them in for their examination.

Treatment of Feline Asthma

Cure of feline asthma rarely occurs, so treatment is used to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Management of feline asthma usually involves combining a few of the options below depending on the severity of symptoms:


Corticosteroids will help to reduce inflammation in the airways. Inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective as they directly target the airways, although they are also available in oral and injectable forms.


Bronchodilators help to open the airways and improve the flow of air in and out of the lungs. These are also usually given in an inhaled form.

Avoid or remove triggers

It is important to figure out what is causing or aggravating the breathing problems for your cat and remove or reduce access to them. Things to try include low-dust cat litter, using natural cleaning products and avoiding contact with cigarette smoke.

Dust-free kitty litter for asthmatic cats

The following litters are recommended where minimisation of dust and inhaled allergens is important.

Shop Low Dust Cat Litter

Prognosis for Feline Asthma

If treated promptly and appropriately the prognosis is generally very good for cats diagnosed with feline asthma. These cats will often live long, happy and active lives.

Further Reading

New Kitten Guide

Cat Flu

Stress and Anxiety in Cats

Dental Care for Kittens

What are the Best Cat Treats?

Flea, Tick and Worming Guide for Cats