What Are the Symptoms of Asthma in Cats?

Is your cat sneezing? Is your cat coughing? CAT FANCY's vet expert clarifies the difference between infections and asthma in cats.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM

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Persian Cat Sneezing and Coughing -- What Are the Signs of Asthma in Cats
A cat's cough and a cat's sneeze might not have anything to do with each other.
Q: For almost a week my cat, Princess, has had coughing spells. Her appetite has not changed. This cat has been sneezing, too. To me, her symptoms sound like asthma — the distinct wheeze and dry, hacking cough. What are the symptoms of asthma in cats?

A: A dry, hacking cough is indeed a typical sign of asthma in cats. So is wheezing. However, the cat's sneezing doesn’t really fit. Sneezing is an upper respiratory sign, while coughing is a lower respiratory sign.

Find other causes of cat coughing here >>


Asthma is definitely on the list of possibilities; however, an upper respiratory infection that has descended into the lungs is more likely. Bordatella, the bacteria responsible for kennel cough in dogs, can affect cats and cause upper respiratory signs as well as coughing. Infectious bronchitis is also on the list.

Hear what else leads to cat wheezing >>

Distinguish between infection and asthma in cats; the treatments are opposed. Respiratory infections, both upper and lower, are treated with antibiotics. Asthma in cats is treated with anti-inflammatories and bronchodilators. Giving antibiotics to a cat with asthma does no harm, but it does not help. Giving anti-inflammatories to a cat with an infection, however, can make the infection worse. Your veterinarian will likely offer some tests — blood work, X-rays, etc., — to help distinguish between the two and prescribe therapy. Most cats respond well to proper treatments.

See more reasons for cat sneezing here >>

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Reader Comments

janet    bethlehem, PA

10/9/2009 4:52:57 AM

good article thank you very much

Karen    Standish, ME

9/9/2007 6:08:14 PM

typo sorry.... After "chest" add x-ray

Karen    Standish, ME

9/9/2007 6:05:46 PM

My Cat Maggie Mae had all these symptoms and a chest told a different story. No asthma, I was shocked. She has a chronic upper resp syndrome. She got these virus from poor living conditions prior to our adopting her. She takes L Lysine supplement that helps to bind the virus from inside the cells. So far it has been helping.
That's why it is so important to seek regular vet medical care.

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