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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-08-2011, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Question Cat Asthma or Heartworm??

I've had my cat for about 6 months. He's a little over a year old. He frequently coughs somewhat violently - more forceful than if there were a hairball - and nothing will come up. He wheezes from time to time. Until last night there was never any major problem, but yesterday he started breathing a bit rapidly (67/min) and was not acting like himself. He refused to eat and didn't want to be pet. I brought him in to the vet and for 400 bucks I was told that he might have asthma and he was put on steroids and a bronchodilator. They also gave him a few shots in the vets and took xrays.

The thing that is a little odd and concerning to me is that the Vet said his lungs didn't look like the classical presentation of asthma, but they did have some spots that were abnormal. Also his heart is enlarged. I've been doing a little research and I'm worried that my cat might actually have heartworm? I did ask the vet about that and he said that heartworm is very uncommon where I live - he didn't seem worried about it. But I am worried as I've been reading that heartworm can often be misdiagnosed as asthma.

After we left the vet his breathing actually got worse and he started rolling around the floor and was obviously having a hard time breathing. I thought about bringing him to the pet ER (it was past hours by this point) but I ended up waiting a little while and he eventually got better. He's no longer breathing as rapidly (about 40/min), but he seems more lethargic than usual and isn't eating as much as he normally does. But he is eating so that's good. He's still wheezing (not continuously) and he had the worse coughing fit that I've ever heard him have this morning. Right now he is resting peacefully and sort of snoring.

If you've read this far I'm hoping that perhaps you are familiar with what I'm describing and that perhaps you have some knowledge that you might be kind enough to share with me. Could it be that he for some reason simply had an asthma attack even though he's never had one before? Or should I be worried about something more serious? And is it normal for him to be so tired after getting those shots and taking steroids?

In case your wondering he does go outside and they are doing construction next door. They've been doing that since the beginning of the year. I had the thought that perhaps something that they are doing over there caused an asthma attack? I have no idea...but I'm wondering if it was the right thing to bring him to the vet and get him put on all these pills and what to do next?

Thanks!!!
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-09-2011, 09:59 AM
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Hello and welcome to Paw Talk! I am sorry your kitty is having this problem.

Steroids work very fast especially by injection so if this was asthma he should have had some relief pretty quickly. (I am not a vet)

I would be very concerned about the enlarged heart. Not only about heartworms (which are easily tested for, so IMO your vet should have done the test) but HCM (Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) which can be very serious.

Has he been tested for FeLV/FIV? (feline leukemia and feline aids)

I recommend you find another vet and get a second opinion.

And keep him inside. Whatever is bothering him certainly could be aggravated by the construction raising dust or mold or even asbestos. But I would definitely find another vet.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-09-2011, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up Thanks!

Thanks for your response - I really appreciate it. My cat is doing much better at the moment. He seems pretty much back to his normal self besides the occasional coughing. I will definitely get a second opinion, though. He has been tested for feline leukemia/aids and was negative for those tests. Do you know what test he would need to check for the cardiomyopathy problem you mentioned? Thanks!!

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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-12-2011, 02:38 PM
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We had a similar problem with our Persian and found out that we had a tremendous amount of dust and dust mite type of materials in the duct work in the house. We had it clean and within 2 weeks our Persian was breathing and sounding 100% better.
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