Licorice diagnosed with feline asthma

Licorice is a 9 ½ year old Domestic short hair who was first presented to our clinic for coughing in 2008. Licorice's coughing did not respond to antibiotics and became worse to the point she was having trouble breathing. She was admitted to hospital and our veterinarian decided to perform chest radiographs and a Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL) which is when they take a fluid sample from her lungs.

The BAL results showed no bacteria growth or infection and after lots of critical medical attention, she was placed on cortisone tablets and she started to improve dramatically. Once Licorice was stabilised she was transferred to an inhaler to manage the condition. Together with the symptoms, radiographs and BAL results (which ruled out other medical conditions and were suggestive of inflammation), Licorice was diagnosed with feline asthma.

Signs of feline asthma include dry hacking cough, wheezing, laboured breathing and exercise avoidance. A severe asthma attack can lead to open mouth panting and if left untreated can be fatal.

Feline asthma is very similar to human asthma. The muscles around the airways tighten, the walls of the airways swell and become narrower, and block airflow. The airways produce extra mucus causing more narrowing. In humans, it is managed with steroid anti-inflammatories which are ideally administered with an inhaler as this reduces the risk of side effects. Licorice is very well managed now and is a happy cat who is very good at taking her medication in her inhaler.