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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16304
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I have a 10 year old female maine coon. she has raspy

Customer Question

I have a 10 year old female maine coon. she has raspy breathing no nasal discharge or coughing she just had bronchitis. she is still losing weight. what could be the problem?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.

I am sorry to hear about Lulu's raspy breathing

If her raspy breathing is seeming to linger without any nasal or eye discharge a bacterial or viral infection seems very unlikely.

A dry cough or raspy breathing can be a sign of heartworm disease. The most common symptoms for heartworm disease in a cat are coughing or gagging/vomiting, but changes in respiratory patterns are often seen. A simple blood test will help diagnose heartworm.

Another possibility, especially if she is allowed outdoors to hunt, is a lungworm infection. These can be more difficult to diagnose but checking several stool samples for eggs or trying a course of fenbenadazole (Panacur) worming medication may be diagnostic if he gets better.

Of course the other possibility is feline asthma. We can usually diagnose them with radiographs of the chest when they are showing symptoms. But if we don't catch them during an episode radiographs can look clear.

Heart disease is another possibility but I would her to be sicker with heart disease. If she seems relatively normal otherwise, eating and drinking well, and active than heart disease is less likely.

It would be very reasonable to check a heartworm test as well as a stool sample and worm her with fenbendazole. If those aren't diagnostic and she isn't improving the next step would be to take chest radiographs and look for changes consistent with asthma and compare them to the previous ones taken to see if there have been any changes if he has ever had radiographs taken before.

If her radiographs look suspicious for asthma or even if they look clear when she isn't coughing then try a course of bronchodilators (oral like theophylline or inhaled) and inhaled cortisone (like fluticasone). In most cases inhaled formulation of both drugs work best. In some cases your veterinarian may start with an injection of steroids to get her some immediate relief. Inhaled formulations can work directly on the lungs, and thus tend to work better in the long run, and because they aren't systemic they have less side effects.

Rarely a nasopharyngeal polyp or a fungal infection can be the cause of raspy breathing, so looking further with sedation and a nasal scope, as well as a look behind the soft palate may be needed, if she isn't coming along.

There aren't any good over the counter medications to give a cat with breathing changes, other than a wormer like fenbendazole, but hopefully I have given you the information you need to approach the diagnostic testing that will help pin the cause down and get her appropriate treatment.

Best of luck with your girl, please let me know if you have any further questions.

Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Kara