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Dr. Scott
Dr. Scott, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 15168
Experience:  15 years of small animal, equine and pocket pet experience in medicine and surgery.
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How do I tell the difference between my cat having an asthma

Customer Question

How do I tell the difference between my cat having an asthma attack vs. a hairball? This house is older and very damp, and he daily has little bouts of coughing, but I don't ever see him cough up a hairball...
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Scott replied 7 years ago.
Hello there,

Hairballs cause a gag reflex and the cat should appear as if about to vomit and retch. Asthma results in a cough, wheeze, open mouth breathing and does not come and go. A chest radiograph is needed to diagnose asthma. Long acting cortisone injections are used to treat mild cases. Hairball diets are rarely effective. Hairball medicine paste has to be used twice a day to rule out that problem.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
This is a repeated retching sound but never see any gagging, and it lasts for about 1-2 minutes almost daily recently. What does it sound like to you? Thanks!
Expert:  Dr. Scott replied 7 years ago.
Retching would be more associated with stomach upset or hairball issues. Asthma causes a cough like a person and the cat will look distressed. They usually extend their necks when having an attack. Allergic bronchitis is also possible instead of asthma. Oral benadryl is used at 1/2-1 mg per pound body weight every 8-12 hours as needed to rule out an allergic reaction.