A new study published in Environmental Science and Technology proves indoor chemicals harm house cats.
The study, from Stockholm University, establishes high levels of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) found in household dust negatively affects our cats.
Previous studies show BFRs found in higher concentrations in the blood of cats with feline hyperthyroidism than healthy cats. The new study proves healthy cats absorb BFRs as well.
Consumers have BFRs in their home by way of textiles, furniture and electronic equipment. Companies use the chemicals to prevent materials from igniting.
BFRs leach from products even after years of use, becoming part of household dust.
Aside from frequently airing out your home with open windows and doors, try the following tips to help your cat maintain optimal respiratory function.
Breathing Allergies in Cats
Feline asthma is one of the most common bronchopulmonary diseases in cats and is responsible for substantial morbidity and occasional mortality.
There are two major pathologic events associated with asthma:
- Chronic airway inflammation
- Reversible bronchoconstriction caused by the chronic airway inflammation
An easy way to imagine asthma is to picture a nurse taking your blood pressure.
When the cuff tightens, your cat can’t breathe. When the cuff loosens, kitty is fine.
Asthma, in its most severe occurrence, shows as an acute episode of “not being able to breathe.” The cuff is super tight.
Most cats with asthma present to the veterinarian in an acute crisis.
A crisis in which the cuff is too tight.
Treatment of a crisis involves bronchodilator drugs to stop the crisis.
However, treating asthma as a disease should focus on controlling breathing allergies and inflammation, with the ultimate goal of preventing a bronchoconstrictive crisis.
In asthmatic cats, exposure to an otherwise harmless environmental aeroallergen allows for production of allergen specific IgE antibodies.
Mold is an excellent example. Mold causes kitty’s body to produce IgE antibodies.
The IgE antibodies then bind to mast cells on respiratory mucosal surfaces.
Upon reexposure to the allergen, IgE on the surface of the mast cells bind to the allergen.
The binding event sends an intracellular signal to trigger mast cell degranulation.
When mast cells degranulate, a variety of allergic reactions ensue causing breathing problems for kitty.
Furthermore, when mast cells degranulate chronically, permanent architectural changes in the lung, called airway remodeling, occur.
Once airway remodeling occurs, bronchodilatory drugs cannot completely reverse clinical signs in the event of a crisis.
To prevent both acute and chronic clinical signs, asthma treatment must focus on inflammation prevention.
Asthma is most commonly diagnosed in young to middle aged cats, especially Siamese cats.
Typical clinical signs include some combination of coughing, wheezing, and intermittent respiratory effort or distress.
Also, not all asthmatic cats are equally affected by the disease.
For some, the disease is mild or easily controlled; some cats may have nothing more serious than occasional bouts of coughing.
Therefore, treatment of mildly affected cats will obviously differ from that of moderately/severely affected cats.
Severely affected cats are more likely to develop respiratory distress/crisis in addition to cough. Thus, treatment must be more aggressive.
Respiratory crisis is possible in any asthmatic cat, and management of cats in asthmatic crisis is different than treatment of cats not presented in crisis.
Therapeutic asthma treatments usually focus on suppression of inflammation and reversal of bronchoconstriction.
Consistently Effective Western Therapies
Western therapies often work best in conjunction with holistic or natural treatment options.
1. Remove the Allergen
Traditional therapy for asthmatic cats involves environmental modulation.
Identify the allergen and remove it from the environment to eliminate the driving force for the induction of asthmatic events. Easier said than done!
More often than not, the allergen is either ubiquitous or the patient is sensitive to multiple allergens making it impossible to completely remove all allergens.
Hepatype filters can be beneficial in reducing the load of indoor aeroallergens.
Of utmost importance is minimizing exposure to environmental airborne irritants, especially smoke, dusts (e.g., kitty litter), and aerosols.
Unfortunately, trying to identify and remove the allergens is tough.
Most clients give up and acquiesce to treatment with the following medicines.
The goal of asthmatic cat treatment is to reduce inflammation, most often via treatment with steroids like prednisone.
Address asthma’s inflammatory component to prevent progression of disease and irreparable damage to the lungs.
The best way to alleviate asthmatic inflammation is with steroids.
Steroids decrease the likelihood of developing respiratory distress.
For routine oral use, prednisolone is better than prednisone for cats.
Inhalant therapy is also available, although administration in some cats can be a nightmare.
Inhalant steroid therapy allows direct application of steroid to airways with minimal systemic absorption.
Adapt metered dose inhalers containing steroids (e.g., fluticasone or flunisolide) for use in asthmatic cats.
Because the therapies are unproven, use inhalant therapy in cats with mild symptoms, or as an adjunct to systemic steroids in more severely affected cats.
Additionally, bronchodilators are available as inhalers and can enhance airflow to the lungs.
Generally, bronchodilators are for an acute crisis situation, not the inflammatory phase.
However, in certain circumstances, bronchodilators can be beneficial in both situations.
Get the Weight Off Your Cat’s Chest
Breathing allergies cause inflammation and asthma in your cat.
Remove the allergen and administer steroids and inhalers to relieve the crushing discomfort in your cat’s chest.
Loosen the cuff.
Help your kitty breathe freely again.