Siamese Cats are 5 Times More Likely Than Other Breeds to have Asthma

Question:

I have a 3 1/2-year-old female Siamese. Lately she has been hacking. She never actually throws up anything, and she is eating just fine. I have even tried the old Vaseline on the paw trick. Is it hairballs or something else?

 

Dr. Nichol:

It’s something else. Hairballs cause vomiting; your cat coughs. I’m glad you’re getting help for her because she’s miserable and she could become seriously ill.

 

There are a few possible causes for that hacking, so we’ll we need a firm diagnosis. Chest x-rays, a heartworm test and a blood count will provide important information. Since Siamese cats are five times more likely to have asthma than other breeds, and with only rare cases of feline heartworm disease in New Mexico, I’m betting on asthma. It isn’t curable, but in most cats, it is manageable.

 

Asthma can be life threatening. Your kitty will need treatment with the corticosteroid prednisone, an airway dilator called theophylline, or possibly both. Daily medication is needed for most asthmatic cats, but some can be treated on an as-needed basis.

 

She’ll also do much better if you manage her weight and the air quality in your home. If she’s a chunky monkey, slim her down to a slinky 8 or 9 pounds. And if either of you smokes, I want you to stop so you can both live long and prosper. I want you around to read my column for a long time to come.