Disease basics… What is asthma?
Feline asthma disease cause and treatment
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lungs. The inflammation causes lung secretions to build up in the airways; which result in the cat wheezing as well as coughing. The inflammation is believed to occur. Because of an allergic response in the cat.
How is asthma disease diagnosed
It can be very difficult to absolutely prove that a cat is affected by asthma. There are no specific tests; which can clinch the diagnosis. Unfortunately a number of other problems can cause a cat to cough and wheeze. We usually have to work our way through a series of investigations to help to eliminate other chest problems. A diagnosis of asthma may be made as a process of elimination.
Treatment for feline asthma disease
Corticosteroids are usually the treatment of choice for asthmatic cats. The corticosteroids help to dampen down the allergic response. Therefore, reduce the inflammation in the lungfields. These are usually given by tablet and may be required on an intermittent basis. Or even a regular daily basis; depending on the severity of the asthma.
It is now possible to obtain a specially designed cat facemask; which allows the administration of inhaled corticosteroids. Along with other respiratory drugs.
Chronic Nasal Discharge
Causes of discharge
Viral infections (e.g. the causes of cat flu) may cause initial surface damage. The long term signs; usually relate to secondary bacterial infection of the damaged nasal passages. This is by far and away the most common cause of chronic nasal discharge. More unusual causes include:
- Inflammation; which can result in small masses of inflammatory tissue.
- Cancer; which can be localised within the nose, or be part of more widespread disease.
- Physical damage from foreign objects getting stuck up the nose, facial trauma (e.g. from cat bites or car accidents); or severe dental disease.
- Fungal infections (very uncommon in the UK). What are the signs of chronic nasal problems? The main signs are nasal discharge as well as difficulty in breathing; often referred to as “snuffles”.
Be that as it may, the exact nature of the discharge; as well as the presence of other signs; are dependent on the disease process occurring within the nose. Along with on the presence of any other illness the cat may have. In order to determine the extent as well as nature of the disease; it is important that the cat be given a thorough physical examination.
Particular points that we will look for include;
- The presence of nasal discharge, and whether it affects both; or only one side of the nose. Foreign bodies or growths tend to affect one side; while other conditions more often cause a discharge from both nostrils (e.g. inflammation of the nasal passages). The type of discharge can also be important; whether it is clear, infected, or blood stained.
- Facial swelling may indicate a more serious underlying problem; such as cancer. Or an infection arising within the nasal chambers.
- Although facial pain is seen rarely. Resentment of facial examination is common among cats with chronic nasal problems. Especially those with foreign bodies; or masses of inflammation within the nasal passages.
- Sneezing, difficulty in breathing, noisy breathing as well as mouth breathing may all be seen. But their presence is usually of little diagnostic value.
- Nasal problems may be accompanied by “runny eyes”, usually from tear duct damage associated with previous viral disease. Another legacy of viral infection can be the development of long term inflammation of the cornea; the clear front part of the eye.
- Evidence of painful or infected ears may be associated with masses of inflammation; called polyps. Cats with polyps may have problems eating if the polyps are large enough to cause obstruction at the back of the throat.
- Cats with nasal discharge often have a poor appetite as well as experience a degree of weight loss.
- Mild to moderate enlargement of the glands at the angle of the jaw is common.
History of cat with chronic nasal discharge disease
It is very important to know the answers to a number of questions; relating to the cat’s previous experiences, e.g.
- Did the cat have cat flu as a kitten? This is the most common cause of inflammation of the nose.
- Is there any history of trauma to the face, dental disease or ear infections?
- At what age did the cat first develop any signs? The age as well as speed of onset of clinical signs can be of help in the diagnosis.
- Has the nasal discharge always been of the same type, consistency as well as color? Has it always been from one; or both nostrils? Are the signs progressing? Is the cat generally ill? Has the cat responded to any previous treatments? The answers to these questions may help determine the underlying cause of the problems.
Diagnostic tests carried out to ascertain cause get
- Blood tests; such as white as well as red blood cell counts. We may want to look for the presence of Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) as well as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Both viruses suppress the immune system; and can make cats more prone to long-standing infections.
- Nose as well as throat swabs may be taken to look for the presence of bacteria, viruses or fungi.
- A general anaesthetic may be necessary to allow more extensive investigations. These include taking X-rays and examining the nose as well as mouth. Detailed examination includes looking up the cat’s nose. Examining behind the soft palate at the back of the throat. While examining the nose it is possible to take samples to look for bacteria, fungi; or evidence of inflammation; or cancer cells.
Fine endoscopes (fibreoptic cameras) may allow some visualization of the inside of the nose. These methods don’t allow very good access to the nasal chambers. So it is possible that underlying disease may sometimes be missed.
- If the less invasive methods of investigation are not successful in gaining a diagnosis; it may be necessary to surgically examine the nose under general anaesthesia. The nasal chambers are exposed via the front of the cat’s face. This allows for the close inspection of the nasal chambers. The collection of material for analysis. The removal of disease tissue. It is not a procedure which is undertaken lightly. Also, it is usually best performed in the hands of a surgical specialist.
Treatments for chronic nasal discharge
However, some specific causes of nasal discharge can be successfully treated. Polyps as well as foreign bodies can be surgically removed; allowing complete resolution of the signs. In some cases, particularly those; which develop following viral infections, it may be impossible to reverse the damage caused to the lining of the nose. The cat will always be prone to recurring episodes. Antibiotics can be given to reduce any bacterial infection.
Nonetheless, to control the signs it is usually necessary to give them for long periods of time. Or as repeated courses in order to control the symptoms. Since extended courses of antibiotics are generally not advisable for the overall health of the cat; they are usually given only when the cat is severely affected.
Consequently, other treatments that can be considered include drugs; to reduce the thickness of the nasal discharges. Or procedures to help the cat breath more easily. However, If the cat is severely affected by “snuffles”. This is s undergoing further investigation. It is possible to flush the pus from the nasal passages; while the cat is under a general anesthetic.
Although this procedure can occasionally give some degree of relief; the symptoms usually return. The most essential aspect of treatment is good nursing care; keeping the cat’s face clean. As well as clear of discharge. As well as encouraging it to eat by feeding warmed up food that is strong smelling.