Fritz during asthmatic attack. Length 1:22.
Video and voice-over script Copyright 2005: J. Perkins, K. Hopper;
Medical, Int. (Note:
film was taken by
Kathryn while James
was getting the
Albuterol with AeroKat®.
The film loops for
only and Fritz was
relieved, in real
time, within seconds.)
Symptoms to Watch For
- Wheezing or rapid, labored breathing
- Persistent cough, looks like hairball behavior but is unproductive
- Squatting with shoulders hunched, neck extended & low
to the ground
- Frothy mucus while coughing
- Open mouth breathing
- Labored breath after
- Upward extended neck
and gasping for breath
Fritz says: "Symptoms can range from infrequent to recurrent to constant,
varying from cat to cat. Sometimes I have abdominal breathing
but haven't coughed, sometimes it's the other way around. Some other cats have had their lips and nose -- normally pink -- turn blue (cyanosis)
-- but not me. Being a Siamese, my breed tends to show more incidence of asthma,
but all ages, sex and breeds can be effected."
A cat showing any of the milder symptoms above, even intermittent,
a veterinarian soon. Coughing or wheezing
occurs because the lungs are inflamed and are at risk of developing permanent
scars, or a collapsed lung lobe. Any cough is a serious matter,
especially if chronic,
frequent or daily.
A cat showing
any of the crisis symptoms, blue lips or nose, frothy drooling,
or obvious difficulty breathing requires immediate, emergency vet
attention. Asthma can be very serious and can cause death from respiratory or
James and Kathryn have categorized Fritz' symptoms into
increasing levels of distress. These can be used as a guideline
for your cat with adjustment
to his or her particular symptoms:
- Asymptomatic: I feel great, sleep well, eat really well, and
have the best time playing with my toys and pals.
- Minor Attack: I start coughing and have a tough time stopping. I hold my neck
out straight and keep my head close to the ground while I cough. My lungs sound gurgly, and in a stethoscope sound "crackly".
- Full-blown Attack: Breathing becomes labored and
the volume inspired is low, my sides heave in and out (abdominal
breathing), and I look puffy (my lungs have too much air trapped
in them due to excess mucus). I am unable to do any of
my normal activities.
Crisis: I pant, looking like a very frightened or very aggressive cat, but
really it is just because it is hard to breathe.
I start to get a lot of mucus in my lungs and start
drooling big frothy drools.
My heart races.
Praying This Isn't My Ninth Life: I sit up and try to stretch up high to get my breath but it is very hard,
like sucking air through a flattened drinking straw.
- Cardiopulmonary Collapse and Death. Not one of my
symptoms, thank the Tuna Gods.
Fritz continues: "Untreated, I can proceed rapidly from one level to another
in a matter of minutes or a matter of days. As I progress to more
critical levels, I exhibit many symptoms of the less-severe levels,
so it all snowballs. This is very frightening to me, my caregivers,
and the vet. Drugs can slow or arrest this progression, and
if my disease is managed well I will never get past level 2."