After having had some very intense experiences with her animals, an American woman named Debbie De Louise went in search of different remedies to help her cat, a sufferer of asthma attacks. Here is her story and what she learnt on her journey.
"I grew up with cats and I became familiar with a lot of their illnesses. Clearly, however, I had never found myself in the company of a cat with asthma before I adopted an 8-week old kitten just after my marriage. I chose Floppy out of a litter of four tomcats because he seemed to be the most energetic and the most friendly. I thought that these attributes were a sign of good health. However, a little while after having adopted him, Floppy started to show signs of breathlessness after playing and developed a hoarse cough during the night. At first I thought that it was hair balls but nothing came up. A vet diagnosed Floppy with feline asthma. Here is a video of a cat suffering from asthma:
The vet therefore prescribed Prednisone in order to improve, and possibly prevent the cat's asthma attacks. Although she was warned of the medicine's side-effects, notably diabetes, Prednisone remained the best treatment for Floppy.
"It stopped Floppy's asthma attacks but he became diabetic after putting on weight. I learned to give him insulin injections and Floppy proved to be a very cooperative patient. I keep an eye on him diabetes but he also suffers from pancreatitis, a common illness in animals suffering from diabetes. He was hospitalised for a week. The cost and the stress was a lot for our family - we were scared of losing him but he did get better. Some years later, he had to hospitalised again because of a liver disease, also linked to diabetes," said Debbie.
When Floppy was 15 years old, he was in general good health. He had to stop and then begin taking insulin again because of a change in diet, until the day when he stopped eating and started vomiting. The vet decided that he needed to stay for observation all night, suspecting his liver of playing up. Debbie had a bad feeling that this would be his last trip to the hospital. He was too old and too weak to continue fighting. When the vet told her that Floppy was dying, she immediately came running to say her goodbyes to her adored cat. "He raised his gaze to mine, breathing heavily as if he wanted to tell me that he knew that it was his time and that he was saying goodbye."
It was, for a long time, difficult for Debbie to think of adopting a new cat. But three years ago, her mother went to a specialised home where she could not keep Oliver, a 13 year old Siamese. "We had another cat, but my daughter, who still missed Floppy enormously, begged me to take Oliver. I hesitated, but I knew that it would be difficult for him to find another home, aged as he was," added Debbie.
"Oliver is now part of our family. The vet assured us that he was in good health. In some ways, Oliver reminded me of Floppy and we rapidly became close. He slept in my bed every night. A year ago, Oliver started to wake up with the same coughing fits as Floppy when he had his asthma attacks."
During their yearly check-up, the vet suggested that it might be possible that Oliver was also asthmatic. Because of his advanced age and risk of developing diabetes, the vet recommended a short-term treatment of Prednisone. Because of her experience with Floppy, Debbie was reluctant to give this treatment to her cat, although it would only be administered in small doses over a short period of time. This helped slightly, but after stopping the treatment, Oliver continued to have asthma attacks from time to time. Debbie didn't, however, ask for a new prescription from her vet. Refusing to let Oliver become diabetic and suffer like Floppy, she went in search of natural alternatives to help her animal.
"I suffered from asthma myself one summer after multiple respiratory infections, so I thought that the treatments that had helped me could also help with Oliver. The doctor had also prescribed Prednisone but I concentrated on the natural treatments that had been advised. I placed an air purifier in the room and used a spray to reduce allergens. This reduced the quantities of asthma attacks but didn't stop them entirely. After each asthma attack, he turned back into the friendly and playful cat that he always had been. I therefore considered that as long as the attacks weren't too bad and could be controlled, I wouldn't take the risk of putting him on Prednisone," said Debbie.
In her search for alternatives that could help Oliver and other owners of cats with allergies or asthma, Debbie interviewed Doctor Erin Holder, veterinary at FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital.
Doctor Holder explained to her that allergies are linked to diets that often contain chemical ingredients and preservatives.
"Allergies are chronic reactions of the immune system and an inflammation of the body. When you search for a treatment for your cat, the first thing to do is control their diet. We need to do anything possible to avoid giving dry food to our cat," said Doctor Erin Holder.
Doctor Holder also mentioned other treatments such as goat's milk, which is an anti-inflammatory, essential oils, acupuncture of chinese herbal medicine. Doctor Holder recommended allergy tests and immunotherapy. She explained that unlike Prednisone and other medicines, natural treatments attack the problem directly instead of treating the symptoms.
On her website The Conscious Cat, Ingrid King recommends reducing stress and other environmental factors that can cause allergies or asthma in cats. Just like in humans, Ingrid King suggests that stress can play a part in asthma attacks in cats.
Having a non-smoking environment and keeping cleaning products with strong smells away from your pet can also be beneficial. "No one in my house smokes and I use scentless litter for my cat. I also found it useful to brush Oliver so that he keeps his fur shiny and that he doesn't accumulate too much hair, which could set off an asthma attack."
Amy Shojai, in her book Cat Facts: The Pet Parent’s A to Z Home Care Encyclopedia, recommends using flower essence to reduce the number of asthma attacks by rubbing three or four drops into the silky part of the cat's ear. Also, she thinks that hemp can also be used as long as it is in the right concentration and taken with the consultation of a vet, in order to reduce the number of the cat's bronchial spasms. She also describes an acupression technique that helps the cat relax during an asthma attack.
Although Oliver's asthma attacks are not bad and are only occasional, Debbie continues to look for natural methods to reduce and eventually eliminate them. It is important to ask the opinion of a veterinary before beginning a treatment because even natural methods can have side-effects. Each cat owner must think about the cost and investments that these treatments represent that may have long term effects in improving the pet's quality of life.
Have you ever had a pet suffer from asthma or allergies? Tell us your story in the comments!
source : Catster