Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Cat Has Asthma

This is Patches.  She is a 10 year old cat that we adopted along with her sister when they were little kittens.  Recently I had to take her to the emergency animal hospital with some digestive issues.  When they looked at her x-rays, they noticed a problem with her lungs, she has asthma.  

She hadn't been coughing or acting any different to usual apart from the digestive problem.  

I learned that 1% of cats have asthma.  I also learned that there are around 80 million cats in the U.S. alone which means there are a lot of cats with asthma.  Why had I never heard of this being a cat thing?  I did what we all do in this situation and turned to the internet.  It is full of stories of cats being successfully treated.  Our vet has Patches on a steroid pill and a bronchial dilator pill.  She is not really responding to either and pilling her is stressful for us all.  She breathes at a rate of 50 to 60 shallow breaths a minute, it should be about 25 deep breaths.  A couple of times recently she has been wheezy.  Why had I never noticed?  I feel guilty for not picking this up but with no coughing or other symptoms, it was easy to overlook.  Do you know how many breaths your cat takes in a minute?

Yesterday our vet added an inhaler to the mix.  We are supposed to administer this twice daily using an AeroKat chamber.  Patches is a big, strong cat and it is hard work to pill her let alone hold her still enough to do this.  It looks simple when you see the how to videos online.  It isn't.  This is her last chance.  If we can't master this, I think we are heading toward the ultimate Difficult Decision.  We've talked about it as a family because we all need to be prepared.

This chamber works just like the one my kids used when they were little.  You hold the silicone face mask over the cat's nose and mouth for about 10 breaths.  Just like that......  I've managed it once.  

I am by nature an optimist and so I am hoping we can learn to make this a successful part of her treatment and I realize it is going to take a bit of time.  The inhaler itself is appallingly expensive here in the U.S. and I could easily go on a rant about the disgusting cost of prescription drugs here compared to Canada or the U.K.  If this works for Patches, I may have to look into buying the inhaler from a Canadian pharmacy.  

For now, though, it is one step at a time, pills twice a day and trying to use the AeroKat, lots of cat treats and even more love.  

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