Cat Asthma – Interview with Dr. Neely, DVM, of Ask the Cat Doctor

We had a long discussion the other day on one of our YouTube videos about cat asthma, so it sparked an interview need with Dr. Neely of Ask the Cat Doctor. Thank you to Dr. Neely for taking the time to teach us more.

If you missed Dr. Neely’s first interview with us – you can check it out here: Interview with Dr. Shelby Neely of Ask The Cat Doctor

Dr. Neely has a radio talk show every Wednesday at 8pm EST and Sunday at 6pm EST. Learn more about how to listen in on Ask The Cat Doctor Radio.

You can also read more about cat asthma and wheezing on Ask the Cat Doctor’s site.

Is asthma in cats common?

I don’t see asthma as often as some other conditions that cats get, such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and diabetes, but it is certainly not uncommon.

How does asthma in cats happen?

Just as in humans, asthma can occur due to allergies, exposure to smoke, or a number of other conditions that can injure lung tissue. There may also be a genetic pre-disposition in some cats, as well.

What are the treatment options for cats with asthma?  Are there holistic treatments for feline asthma?

Allergy testing is advised for any cat diagnosed with asthma, as is removal of any offending substances from the environment, like smoke, excess dust, mold, etc.  In many cats, however, an underlying cause is never found. The standard treatment for cats with asthma is bronchodilators and steroids. These medications can be obtained in liquid, pill, and inhaler forms. If the owner can afford it and the cat can tolerate it, inhalers are the best way to go in order to prevent the steroids, in particular, from causing other problems and illnesses.

As far as holistic treatments, I’m sure there are some that are attempted, but not being a holistic veterinarian myself, I really couldn’t provide advice on this aspect. A more natural approach, of course, as I mentioned before, is to control problems in the environment by vacuuming, using a more dust-free litter, and trying to limit exposure to aggravating substances. But for homeopathic and holistic medications, one should consult a homeopathic or holistic veterinarian.

How do you know if your cat had asthma?

To the naked eye, an asthma attack can be manifested as a gagging “cough” that is almost indistinguishable from a cat coughing up a hairball, for example. In severe cases, the cat’s efforts at breathing will become very pronounced, and he may perhaps even be breathing with his mouth open. This is an immediate emergency. A definitive diagnosis almost always requires x-rays of the lungs.

What do you do if your cat has an asthma attack?

If your cat has any persistent cough or difficulty breathing, he should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

Is this an asthma attack?  This looks like a cat coughing to me.  Is there a difference?


A cat coughing for any reason, be it congestive heart failure, asthma, hairballs, etc., will look pretty much identical to what is seen in the above video.

Again, in reference to the above video – my cats cough like that maybe once every 6 weeks – is that something to be concerned about?

If this only happens this infrequently and doesn’t require any treatment for it to go away, it is probably not asthma. However, a trip to the veterinarian and chest x-rays will confirm whether there are any problems with the lungs or heart.

How can you prevent your kitty from having asthma?

You cannot prevent all cases of asthma in cats, but some will be prevented by keeping exposure to smoke, mold, dust (even that which can come from a dusty cat litter), exposure to heavy perfumes, and any other substances that can be irritating to your cat’s lungs (or your own) to a minimum!

How does a Vet decide if your cat has asthma? What are the tests involved?

Asthma can almost always be diagnosed based on a combination of clinical signs and x-rays of the lungs.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Thanks, Jenny- I hope Andy’s case of asthma will help some other owners recognize and treat this scary, but controllable, condition. I just switched to Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief litter and am hoping that will help him further.
    It can frustrating to find the right treatment at first, but once you find the right combination for your kitty, it can be controlled!

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