Norie, the kitty loaf.
I wrote this article for Candid Slice to help spread the word about Feline Asthma.
It is easy to miss until a lot of damage has been done. Cortisone inhalers can help without the systemic effects of oral cortisone. If you have a cat or know someone who does, please share this with them.
Hello! My name is Norie, and I’m a cat. I have a rather unusual problem that lots of people don’t know much about: Cat Asthma. I never thought that a cat as healthy as I am could have asthma. But I do! My human has to take special precautions to keep me well.
At 10 months of age I was energetic, curious, playful, and loved to chase ping pong balls in the tub and the red light on the floor. I could play for a long time without getting tired. About a year later I could play hard but then I would stop suddenly and lie down to rest and get my breath. The play times got shorter and shorter. How strange. My human thought I had put on some weight after my “female” operation and that’s what was slowing me down.
The next year when the colorful flowers poked out of the dirt and yellow powdery stuff was blowing all over the place, I started coughing. The cough became a real problem. I would hunch my body close to the floor, stick my head out, and cough and cough like I had a hairball. My human noticed that I never actually coughed up a hairball, though! The coughing happened over and over again and lasted longer.
My Mom made a movie on her talking thing–that she calls a phone–of one of these coughing spells to show the doctor. Next thing I knew I was in the carrier going to the vet.
The doctor said there were two main causes of this problem. One was icky worms that grow in a cat’s thumper. These monsters come from mosquitoes, but since I am a privileged indoor cat, Mom and the doctor agreed that worms probably weren’t the cause. Besides, cats don’t get thumper worms as much as dogs do. Yea, Cats!
I had to listen carefully to learn about all of this. My doctor said the easiest way to figure out what caused the coughing was to give me a shot of something called cortisone, and see if the coughing would get better and stop. The shot was the kind that lasts a long time. If I stopped coughing, I had asthma. The cortisone helps the insides of my lungs to calm down which makes it easier for me to breathe. If I coughed then I might need some tests to figure out the real problem. But the doctor gave Mom some pills in case I started coughing again.
My Mom heard the doctor say that the best way to figure out my problem is to have an x-ray of my lungs. Asthma, Mom says, happens from swelling in the breathing tubes that trap air in the lungs so old air can’t go out and new air can’t come in. And Mom would know! She was a people-nurse for a long time!
Well the shot didn’t hurt, and I stopped coughing for almost a year! “Great! I will be alright now,” I thought. But I never did get back to my usual energetic self. When the yellow stuff started floating around again, the coughing returned. So back we went to my doctor for another shot.
But many days later when the weather started getting hot and muggy the coughing came back! It would stop by itself but it happened more often. I was getting a bit worried! I tried not to show it, but I couldn’t make the coughing stop. My human had to take me to an animal emergency vet. The nice people told Mom that I needed an “inhaler.” I just didn’t know what to think of that.
My Mom is so smart! She found a group of people who knew a whole lot about cat asthma. She got an order for Prednisolone pills, which I took for two weeks until the inhaler medicine, Flovent, built up in my lungs to make the sickness get better. Mom had to get an inhaler tube with a mask, called an Aerokat, to give me the medicine.
My Mom and I did not want to believe that I really had asthma. We both wanted to believe I was cured and healthy. But she remembered how tired I had been and compared my coughing to videos of other cats coughing with asthma. The first time she put the mask over my face I didn’t like it! But the medicine made me feel better. And after two weeks the coughing stopped. No more pills after about four weeks. But I still have to use the inhaler two times a day.
The amazing part is I know I get my wet food or a treat after the inhaler so I don’t even mind the medicine from the mask on my face. Better still I went a whole year without coughing.
But while my human went on a trip, I was naughty and hid twice from the nice woman who gives me my medicine when Mom goes away sometimes. Guess what happened? After Mom came back I woke her up early in the morning with a coughing spell. She jumped out of her bed so fast I thought a dog was chasing her! But she grabbed the emergency inhaler as fast as she could and gave me my medicine. It helped open up my lungs up so the medicine could get where it needed to go and then gave me my morning inhaler of Flovent. After that I haven’t coughed once!
I think my Mom knows for sure that I truly do have asthma now. I do too. But I do like to mess with her sometimes by pulling my nose out of the medicine mask after a couple of breaths. I look up at her to see what she will do. She just rubs my nose with hers and tells me, “8 more breaths.” I know she loves me. I love her too. I am a high maintenance cat now! That means I am special!
For those interested in more information there are several online support groups to inform owners of asthmatic cats about treating cat asthma. I found the site Fritz the Brave to the best resource for information and the best support group, as well.
Here is a video of how to use the inhaler and AeroKat: .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0mtG6pmQ2w