Cat Chat

World Asthma Awareness Day

Today is World Asthma Day, it’s an annual event which aims to raise awareness of asthma and how it affects sufferers. Asthma is a common lung condition that causes breathing difficulty. Not only do humans suffer with asthma but cats and dogs do too.

@heid.kat has been part of our #furfamily at Feline and Fiction for a while now and since her mama Donna joined the F&F team, she has also been helping with modelling duties while Hamish & Angus get comfortable and more confident in their home with Laura. Heidi has feline asthma and here is their story.

My Cat and I living with feline asthma.

How would you react if your vet turned to you and told you your cat has asthma? For me it was disbelief…cats don’t suffer from asthma do they…it’s a human disease?

Around the time of Heidi turning two years old she began “coughing”, it was as if she was trying to bring up a furball, but nothing was ever produced. Within a few weeks the cough was becoming more frequent, so, like many pet owners I did a spot of internet research. All the results basically advised that you take your cat to a vet as soon as soon as possible. A vet appointment was made immediately. Little did I know at the time it would be one of many appointments with our vet as feline asthma is very difficult to diagnose. After many examinations, x-rays, blood tests, information gathering and finally being able to show our vet a video of Heidi coughing we were given the feline asthma diagnosis. The coughing episodes were asthma attacks, in cats they hunch their bodies close to the ground, thrust their necks forward while licking their lips, coughing, and struggling for breath.

Heidi was initially prescribed Prednisone steroid tablets and at first, we did see an improvement in that the attacks were becoming less frequent. At this stage, which was eight years ago now, our vet couldn’t give me much advice on feline asthma, and I was left to do much of the research on how best to help Heidi. It was a huge learning curve, I soaked up everything like a sponge, I am pleased to say these days there is a lot more information and support networks available.

With time the asthma attacks increased again so our vet informed me that I should research the inhaler treatment which would be the best treatment in the long term as the medication goes directly to where it is needed, unlike steroids that make their way around the organs of the body before getting to where they are needed.

The actual advice I was given was to check YouTube for videos on how to train your cat to use an inhaler. At the time there wasn’t much to go off, but I knew that if we could train Heidi to use one it would help her live with her asthma much better.

I began a very slow process of training Heidi using a technique that I had combined from the research videos I had watched. We eventually got to the stage where she was more than comfortable taking up to ten breaths with the chamber on her face. Being incredibly patient with training and the strong bond that we share truly paid off. I believe Heidi knows that I’m trying my best to keep her happy and healthy.

Heidi now takes her inhaler treatment daily and along with adjustments we have made around the home and in our daily routine she is taking everything in her stride and doing well.

Feline asthma is very serious, and you must remember that it cannot be cured but it can be controlled, helping cats live happily for many years. An attack can happen out of the blue and I always worry when will the next one occur…what if I’m at work, asleep, on holiday…its so difficult, but because of the right level of care, medication, support and close monitoring of Heidi’s health we seem to be on the right track at the moment. She is now ten years old.

Please feel free to check out Heidi’s daily adventures on her Instagram for health updates and much more. I am always happy to hear from anyone who would like to know more about feline asthma, diagnosis or what it is like in general to live with it.