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How to help an asthmatic cat

In this blog I will share with you how I treat, support and manage my cat Leo with his asthma.

It took us over 3 months to get Leo diagnosed with feline asthma. When we got him from the rescue centre we were told to keep him in for 3 months before we let him outside. As he was previous feral and part of a colony, the rescue centre advised us that he would need time to adjust to his new environment and surroundings.

We actually ended up keeping him in for just under 12 months because it took him that long to start to trust us and settle into our home.

After 3 months of being with us he started coughing. I figured it was hair balls. Pickle (the cat that came before Leo) never had them, but I’d seen other cats bring them up.

But then my spidey sense started to tingle…something wasn’t right.

Despite the coughing…no hair ball presented itself. I started to video him, and we went to the vet.

The wrong diagnosis

We tried a couple of treatment options before we settled on his asthma diagnosis. These included antihistamines, hair ball paste, antibiotics and steroids.

Nothing really helped.

We didn’t have the asthma diagnosis straight away because when the vet would listen to Leo’s chest she couldn’t hear anything. No crackles, no fluid, no wheezing. If it wasn’t for the video footage of him coughing you couldn’t see anything wrong with him.

But I knew. Something wasn’t right. After the second treatment I said to my husband ‘He’s got asthma.’ I had already gone into ‘protector mummy’ mode and started to research the condition.

My spidey sense was in full tingle mode.

Despite the vet saying it wasn’t asthma because she couldn’t hear anything on his lungs or chest, I just knew.

We finally got to the point where I needed answers, and my dear boy needed treatment.

He had a general anaesthetic for a Bronchoalveolar lavage, which is when they push fluid into the lungs and see what comes out. Although I was VERY cautious about him having this test, we needed answers. He needed treatment.

The tests confirmed it. Asthma.

What’s next?

I knew it. It wasn’t a surprise when the vet told us. It was almost like the angels on high were singing as I was vindicated. My spidey sense verified.

My husband said to me: ‘Why can’t we have a normal one.’

After dealing with Pickle and her diabetes for years (and all the other health conditions she had) I can understand his question. But for me, I knew it was asthma. I knew Leo had come to me with this condition so that I could learn.

It was our next chapter.


Leo was given steroid tablets to start with. Then (as is normally the way with me) I went back to the vet asking, and bringing to the table, other treatment options. I asked about using an aerosolised steroid that would go straight into his lungs rather than a tablet into his tummy.

The vet had never heard of it (!) but looked into it and agreed she would support me with this form of treatment for Leo.

It took us 6 months. From start to finish to get Leo to accept, tolerate and work with the inhaler (aka puffer). I’ll never forget the first time I actually puffed the inhaler into the chamber he shot off the stool so quickly he tumbled over himself. I thought he would never come back. But he did.

We took it really slow. I went at his pace. We used behaviour modification to support him with this change. I was in no rush. What’s the point of us both being stressed, worked up and anxious about something that was meant to help him!?

Times change

I manage Leo’s asthma quite well (or so I like to think!) He goes from one puff in the morning and one in the evening to no puffs at all. We’ve just had a week where he had no inhaler. This morning he had an asthma attack, so he had a puffer this morning and I’ll give him one tonight then I’ll see how he goes.

He has had weeks with no treatment, then other times he has had to have a steroid tablet on top of the two daily puffs.

Sadly I don’t know what triggers it in him. I don’t know what causes his attacks. But I am learning more and more about how to support his body, his immune system and his gut biome. I now know of certain food proteins that cause an inflammatory reaction in him. This has been through trial and error and A LOT of food diaries.

I write EVERYTHING down. What the boys are given to eat, at what time, any medication and episodes of sickness. Pickle taught me that you can’t help a cat if you don’t know what’s going on. When I have the data I can find the pattern. Then I can help.


One thing I have learnt from Leo and his asthma…it is connected to me and my emotional and mental state. If I feel like I can’t breathe in my life, he needs more treatment. If I shift my energy and my emotions … he doesn’t have as much treatment. Fascinating right?!

More on this in another blog. For now let me share with you that if you have an asthmatic cat take a moment to look at yourself.

Can you breathe in your life?

Are you holding your breath?

Do you feel like you are suffocating?

If you make a change, even a small one, you’ll be amazed how it will impact your cat.

Our cat’s are with us for a reason. The asthmatic ones…they have a lesson we need to learn.

Take time to listen to them.

They will be your teacher if you let them.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. Be sure to share it with friends, family or colleagues using the buttons below.

With Love,
Julie-Anne, Leo and Baby Max xxx


Thumbnail image by Photo by Sam Lion

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