from Sonora, has a 7-year-old cat named Tiger with a
persistent cough that has become more frequent over the
last few weeks. There are times during these coughing
episodes when Tiger will hunch his back and seems to
hide in certain areas in the house. He also sometimes
acts as though it is hard to breathe in between coughs.
Could this be allergies?
do indeed have allergies to various substances in the
environment and depending on what they are responding
to, they will manifest different types of symptoms.
Allergies can occur from flea bites, causing them to be
rather intensely pruritic (itchy). Cats with flea
allergies will chew themselves to the point of damage to
the skin especially along the back and in the area above
the tail. These cats will have scabbing and often are so
good at chewing that they remove most if not all
evidence of fleas. Unfortunately, they can and often do
remove a lot of their coat and I have even seen some
cats that cause abscesses by chewing on themselves.
can also have allergies to particulars. Food allergies
can also manifest with intense pruritis although the
areas of pruritis will usually differ from those with
flea allergies. Food allergy cats will commonly scratch
their head and face. Again it can be to the point of
destruction of the skin with resultant scabbing and hair
allergies in cats can also manifest with vomiting and/or
diarrhea. If a cat has an allergy to a particular item
contained within its food, a response can occur in the
stomach and the small intestine, which causes an
irritation with the resultant symptoms. This does not
mean, as Iím sure many of you realize, that all cats
with vomiting and diarrhea have a food allergy. Food
allergies are but one of many disease processes that can
lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea.
allergies can also occur in cats. There can be many
particles contained within the air that can lead to
respiratory symptoms as a result of an allergic
response. One of the most common symptoms we will see
with these types of allergies is difficulty breathing.
Affected cats will have increased respiratory effort as
well as increased rate. They may also cough. This sounds
a lot like the description given by Marsha concerning
her Tiger. This type of an allergic response is given
the name feline asthma. Unfortunately, these symptoms
are not only associated with asthma. There are other
causes for coughing and difficulty breathing.
respiratory system in cats, as well as all the systems
we name in their little bodies, has only a limited
number of responses or symptoms it can manifest with an
almost infinite number of diseases affecting it. Because
of this, it becomes obvious that a trip to Tigerís
veterinarian is in order.
various diagnostic tools including radiographs and
perhaps some blood work, we can begin to diagnose his
problem. It may be that he has infectious bronchitis
from a viral or bacterial infection or maybe pneumonia
caused also by a virus or bacteria. There is a parasitic
infection caused by lungworms that can lead to the
symptoms shown by Tiger. Congestive heart failure can
cause fluid build up in the chest in cats causing
respiratory problems. Any disease that affects the
respiratory system, the bronchial tubes and lungs, can
cause the described symptoms.
with a physical examination and appropriate diagnostics,
Tigerís condition can be discovered. If Tiger indeed
is suffering from feline asthma, there are effective
treatments available and we are usually quite successful
in treating this disease.
another note, this is my final column for 2015 and I
wanted to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas
and a happy 2016. I will look forward to helping as many
of you as I can with your companionsí health concerns
and am very thankful that I have been blessed to have
such a wonderful career working with people and their
special bonds with their animal pals!