As healthy as this breed usually is, Maine Coon cats and asthma are not unheard of.
This is a fairly common respiratory problem that affects cats of any breed. While it is not curable, there are still ways you can manage your cat’s symptoms.
Some Maine Coons experience lower respiratory tract issues known as feline asthma. Symptoms include wheezing & coughing. Irritants or allergies like smoke/dust cause the lower airways and lungs to become inflamed. Asthma is fatal for cats if not treated. Treatments include increased humidity, removing allergens, and providing an inhaler.
While asthma can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, knowing about this condition early on can help you provide proper treatment for your Maine Coon.
Read on to find out just what causes asthma in the first place, and what you can do to treat it.
Maine Coon Cats And Asthma
The Maine Coon is an immensely popular cat breed known for its enormous size and lovable nature.
These cats are incredibly cuddly and caring towards their families, but they are also very active.
Maine Coons love to:
They need at least thirty minutes of playtime with their owners every day.
One condition that can affect your cat’s ability to play, though, is feline asthma.
This is a condition that inflames the lungs, leading to chronic irritation that can become fatal if it is not managed properly.
If you have noticed your cat wheezing, coughing, or snuffling, then you might wonder do Maine Coons have breathing problems?
Learn more about Maine Coon Noisy Breathing.
It is estimated that between 1% and 5% of cats have asthma.
While Maine Coons are generally considered a healthy cat breed, they can contract asthma just like any other cat.
Asthma can range from mild to severe, so treatment plans depend on the individual’s prognosis.
Allergens, exercise, and other factors can trigger an asthma attack that leaves your cat struggling for breath.
While asthma can be triggered by allergens and irritants, the exact underlying cause is still unknown.
It is generally believed that asthma can be caused by both genetics and the environment they are exposed to (source 1).
Signs Of Cat Asthma
Some owners may go a long time without even realizing that their cat has asthma.
Since this condition can range from mild to severe, it can remain hidden for a long time, especially if you do not know what to look for.
1. Hunching Over While Coughing
During an asthma attack, a cat will usually sit with its body hunched and its neck extended forward as it coughs or hacks.
The cat will usually swallow or gulp occasionally between coughs.
They may make gurgling or wheezing sounds, as well.
Wheezing is the rattling sound your throat makes when your airway is partially constricted.
It may not be easy to hear your cat wheezing, but you should listen for it if your cat seems to have difficulty breathing or has begun coughing a lot.
Some cats may also wheeze or snore while they are sleeping.
It can be difficult to know if your cat is coughing, and a lot of owners ask, what do cats with asthma sound like?
Every cat’s cough sounds different, but it usually sounds similar to a human cough or sneeze.
A cat having an asthma attack will cough repeatedly for several seconds or minutes.
4. Shallow Or Rapid Breathing
It is easier to determine whether your cat’s breathing is normal if you have another, healthier cat to test.
If your cat’s chest rises and falls imperceptibly, it is often an indicator of shallow breathing.
A resting or sleeping cat typically breathes between 24 and 30 times a minute.
If your cat takes more than 40 breaths a minute, it could be a sign of asthma.
5. Difficulty Exercising
If your Maine Coon suddenly begins coughing or breathing heavily in the middle of a play session, this is a strong indicator that your cat has asthma or some other respiratory problem.
Your cat may run or play less than usual, or it will play normally until it overexerts itself, and then begins to have an asthma attack.
6. Open Mouth Breathing
Most cats breathe through their noses, so if your cat is breathing with its mouth open, it often means your cat is having difficulty breathing.
7. Frequent Swallowing
During an asthma attack, your cat will likely gulp or swallow between coughs.
Our bodies naturally produce mucus to protect irritated throats, but this can lead to excessive mucus during an asthma attack.
Some cats may have frothy mucus near their mouths, especially during an asthma attack.
8. Blue Lips And Gums
If your cat’s lips or gums appear blue, then emergency care is required.
This means that the cat is running out of oxygen, and it is a sign of a severe asthma attack.
What Causes Cats To Get Asthma?
While there is no single known cause for asthma, it is generally thought that it arises as a result of genetic and environmental influences.
Here are some potential causes of asthma in your cat (source 1):
Genetics is thought to be a big factor when it comes to feline asthma.
Some even believe that asthma might be more common in certain cat breeds, such as Siamese cats.
Unfortunately, there is no way to determine for sure whether a cat is going to have asthma, regardless of whether its relatives have the condition.
Dust, dust mites, and other particles in the air can cause allergies in your cat, and possibly trigger this chronic condition.
Dusty kitty litter can also become a lung irritant that causes asthma, so it is a good idea to find kitty litter with as little dust as possible.
Smoking tobacco or other substances can easily cause asthma in your cat, but smoke from other sources can be just as dangerous.
Fireplaces and even candles can trigger asthma, so it is a good idea to avoid open flames, or at least keep the house well-ventilated.
Allergies to mold, grass, and even certain kinds of food can cause asthma in your cat.
While there is no way to avoid every possible allergen, keeping an air purifier in your house can help reduce the risk of asthma.
While exercise will not cause your cat to get asthma, it is one of the common feline asthma triggers.
A cat that already has asthma is likely to have an asthma attack during rough play or exercise.
Lack Of Humidity
Like exercise, it is unlikely that dry air is the root cause of asthma, but it can seriously exacerbate your cat’s symptoms.
Some cats with asthma tend to cough more during the winter when it is driest inside.
How Do Vets Diagnose Asthma In Cats?
Vets typically diagnose a cat with asthma after ruling out other possible conditions.
Since there is no single test that can determine if a cat has asthma, it is easier to test for respiratory infections or other conditions first.
Your vet will likely use a stethoscope to first listen to your cat’s breathing.
Rapid or shallow breathing or breathing that is accompanied by wheezing can all indicate asthma.
Blood tests can determine if your cat has been affected by an allergen that may have triggered asthma.
Vets sometimes order other tests, such as fecal tests, to ensure that there are no underlying conditions that mimic asthma symptoms, such as lungworm.
Finally, your vet may require an X-ray, especially in milder cases of asthma. The X-ray will show whether your cat’s lungs are inflamed.
Achieving this will likely involve Maine Coon Anesthesia – read our guide to learn more about this.
From there, your vet will recommend treatment based on the symptoms and severity of your cat’s asthma (source 1).
Cat Asthma Treatment
Sadly, asthma is not a curable condition, but it can be managed through medication and other treatment options.
When it comes to feline asthma treatment, there are two kinds of medications that vets use:
Corticosteroids are a kind of anti-inflammatory drug that will reduce the swelling associated with feline asthma.
These medications can be taken as pills or injections, but they are generally most effective when taken via an inhaler.
Cats with asthma typically have narrow, tight airways.
Bronchodilators relax those muscles, opening up the airways and making breathing easier.
Like corticosteroids, bronchodilators can be taken as pills and injections, but vets usually recommend taking them with a feline asthma inhaler, instead.
Medication is usually recommended for cats with moderate to severe asthma, but there are things you can do on your own to treat your cat alongside medication.
Cat Asthma Treatment Naturally
If you are looking for natural cat asthma treatments, there are a few simple things you can do to alleviate your cat’s symptoms.
Keeping a humidifier, especially in the winter, can help your cat’s asthma immensely.
While not every cat with asthma is triggered by low humidity, it can be a serious trigger for others.
While Maine Coons need lots of exercise to stay fit, exercising too frequently or too hard can trigger an asthma attack.
Encourage gentle play or walks rather than running around the house or climbing and jumping very quickly.
Exchanging dusty substances like kitty litter for dust-free options can reduce irritants in the air and soothe your cat’s inflamed lungs.
Keeping an air purifier in the house can also remove dust mites and other irritants. Make sure to dust your house regularly, as well.
Cat Asthma Treatment Cost
Treating your cat’s asthma can be quite expensive, but it depends on the severity of the condition.
Some vets do not even recommend medication for milder cases of asthma, but if the condition progresses, medication usually becomes necessary.
Diagnosing asthma can cost a few hundred dollars.
Most standard vet exams cost about $100, but blood and fecal tests can add another $100 or so.
If your cat requires a chest X-ray, it will likely cost between $100 to $250.
Treating asthma can be even more expensive if you choose to get an inhaler.
A single inhaler costs about $500, but you will also have to pay for the medication. It usually costs around $4.10 per inhaler puff.
Some cats need to use their inhaler once or twice a day, while other cats only need their inhaler during an asthma attack.
As expensive as this may be, it is nothing compared to the cost of emergency care.
If your cat’s asthma is left untreated, you may have to take your cat to the emergency vet during a severe asthma attack.
These emergency visits generally cost over $1,000, so prevention is the cheaper (and healthier) option (source 1).
Will Asthma Kill My Cat?
If your cat has recently been diagnosed, you may wonder, can cats die from asthma?
Unfortunately, yes, a cat can die from asthma. However, this is a progressive condition that usually starts mild and gets worse over time.
Untreated asthma in cats will progress much more quickly, but a cat that is receiving medication and other treatments is unlikely to die.
You will have to discuss the risks of asthma with your vet, as underlying conditions and other environmental factors can affect the severity of your cat’s asthma.
Life Expectancy Of A Cat With Asthma
There is no way to know for certain how long a cat with asthma will live, but many cats with asthma live just as long as cats without asthma.
If asthma is identified early before it has become more severe, then chances are your cat’s life will not be significantly shortened by asthma.
However, since asthma can cause rapid breathing and chronic inflammation, it can stress your cat’s body and make them more vulnerable to other conditions.
The biggest danger of asthma is a lack of oxygen.
A severe asthma attack, if left untreated, can cause your cat to suffocate.
It is important to monitor the frequency and severity of your cat’s asthma attacks.
If your cat’s lips, gums, or nose turn blue during an attack, it means your cat has been deprived of oxygen, and emergency care is required.
If your asthmatic cat develops an infection, particularly a respiratory infection, then it is at a higher risk of danger.
Go to the vet immediately if your cat seems sick, so you can alleviate symptoms as soon as possible.
If you keep your house humid, purified, and free of dust, molds, and allergens, your cat has a good chance of living a long, healthy life.
Combining this with gentle exercise, regular checkups, and medication means your cat’s asthma is unlikely to worsen (source 1).
How To Help A Cat With An Asthma Attack
Watching your cat have an asthma attack can make you feel anxious and helpless, but there are some things you can do to keep your cat safe and comfortable.
Here are some steps you can take to help your cat during an asthma attack:
1. Provide Medication
If your vet has prescribed an inhaler to use as needed, then you should give your cat its inhaler during the attack.
Do not use any medication unless it has been prescribed by your vet.
2. Keep Air Humid And Well Ventilated
If you can, turn on a humidifier and air purifier.
If it is nice out, open up the windows.
Make sure you are providing your cat with as much fresh, clean air as you can.
3. Find A Quiet Spot
If you can, try and get your cat to a quiet spot where it can relax.
Try not to move your cat too much during an asthma attack, but if you are in a busy or loud place, reducing your cat’s stress will help the attack.
4. Monitor Symptoms
Sit with your cat and monitor its symptoms carefully.
It may be a good idea to write down how long the attack lasts, and what symptoms are present.
That way, you can track if your cat’s symptoms are worsening over time, or find a pattern that could indicate certain triggers for your cat’s asthma.
Keep an eye out for more dangerous symptoms like blue skin or excessive drooling.
5. Go To The Vet
If your cat’s gums, lips, or nose turn blue, it is time to go to the vet immediately.
Lots of drool or mucus can also be an indicator that it’s time to go to the vet.
If your cat’s inhaler is not working, or the attack only seems to be getting worse, then get medical attention as soon as possible!
Deciding when to go to the vet can be tricky since asthma attacks vary in symptoms, duration, and frequency depending on the cat.
Cats that experience daily asthma attacks have severe asthma, but cats with mild asthma may only get an attack every month.
Most asthma attacks last a few minutes, but again, this really depends on the cat.
If the attack is lasting longer than usual, or they begin happening more frequently than before, then it is time to take your cat to the vet so you can reassess your treatment plan.
Common Maine Coon Allergies
Just like humans, cats can develop allergies, as well.
While the Maine Coon breed is considered one of the healthiest cat breeds in the world, Maine Coons can still suffer from allergies.
Here are some allergies that are common in cats:
The most common allergy found in cats is fleas.
Cats can also be allergic to other types of insects.
It is a good idea to provide flea and tick medication for your cat if it goes outside.
Here’s a great guide to Applying Flea Treatment On Maine Coon Cats.
Common food allergies in cats include:
If your cat is suspected of having a food allergy, your vet will recommend you rotate foods until your cat’s allergy clears up.
Here are 20 foods that harm Maine Coon cats.
Also known as atopy, this kind of allergy is caused by things like mold, dust, and other environmental or airborne allergens (source 1).
Maine Coon cats and asthma may sound scary at first, but if this chronic condition is managed well, your cat will likely live a long and healthy life.
While more severe cases of asthma can cause death, your vet can provide medications that ease the inflammation in your cat’s airways and open up the bronchial tubes.
You can also ease your cat’s symptoms by keeping the air in your house humid and well-ventilated.
Are Maine Coon Cats High Maintenance?
Maine Coons are medium maintenance cats. They require a lot of brushing, as well as plenty of playtime and exercise. They are pretty independent, though, and do not demand too much attention.
Are Maine Coon Cats Bad For Allergies?
If you want to know do Maine Coon cats cause allergies, the answer is sadly yes. Maine Coons are not hypoallergenic, and their long, thick fur means they shed more than shorthair cats.
Do Maine Coon Cats Have Any Health Issues?
What diseases are Maine Coon cats prone to? Maine Coons are more susceptible to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, spinal muscular atrophy, and polycystic kidney disease.