Thursday, March 18, 2010
We know that cats can spark allergy and asthma attacks in some humans. But can cats be allergic to people?
Yes, they can, but it typically happens indirectly. Human dandruff can set off an attack in cats, but the more common culprits are household irritants such as dust, secondhand smoke, and kitty litters with a high dust content (especially when used with a covered litter box). All of these can trigger an asthma attack in cats that suffer from the condition or can put cats at greater risk of developing asthma in the first place. Cats with allergic rhinitis may also be sensitive to such allergens, which can heighten inflammation in a cat's upper airways. (Learn why smoking indoors also puts your cat at a four times greater risk of cancer.)
How can feline asthma be prevented?
Eliminating or minimizing possible household allergens is the first step to preventing the development of feline asthma or asthma attacks, which can be life threatening to your cat.
What are the signs?
If you notice any of the following in your cat, seek veterinary treatment right away:
His breathing is open-mouthed or shallow, rapid, and labored.
He's coughing or making wheezing sounds.
How is it diagnosed?
Bronchoscopy (A flexible microscope is inserted into the bronchial airways.)
Observation of symptoms
How is it treated?
The good news is that asthma may be reversible. Long-term treatment of chronic asthma includes medications that help squelch inflammation of the bronchial airways, opening them up and controlling mucus production. Emergency treatment of an acute asthma attack may require hospitalization and oxygen therapy in addition to certain medications. If your cat has been diagnosed with asthma, ask your veterinarian about the benefits and potential side effects of available drug therapies.