Feline bronchial asthma (allergic bronchitis) is a syndrome in cats with similarities to asthma in people. Young cats and Siamese and Himalayan breeds are most affected. Feline asthma is associated with airway hyperresponsiveness, airflow obstruction, airway remodeling, and eosinophilic airway inflammation. Asthma in cats is induced by an aberrant immune response with upregulation of cytokines, leading to IgE production. Foreign bodies in the airway and developmental abnormalities such as laryngeal deformities may predispose to bronchitis.
Diagnosis is made from the history, physical examination, and clinical signs and by ruling out other causes of coughing. Options if initial treatment is refractory include chest x-rays, bronchoscopy, and collection of biopsy and swab samples for laboratory analysis.
Oral (prednisolone, dexamethasone) or inhaled (fluticasone, budesonide) corticosteroids are indicated for treatment of feline asthma. Bronchodilators (albuterol, terbutaline) may be considered for adjunctive therapy in combination with glucocorticoids but not as sole therapy for feline asthma. Feline aerosol chambers and inhaler therapy are available for aerosol drug delivery in cats with feline asthma. Avoidance of environmental aeroallergens (eg, cigarette smoke, perfumes, pollens, molds, dust) must be considered in management of these cats.