Asthmatic Cats: Biddy’s Story & How to Care for Cats with Breathing Challenges

Asthmatic cats are more common than you might think, and understanding their condition is crucial for their well-being.

Meet Biddy, a little black cat living on a big farm, who began showing signs of asthma. This is her story, along with the tale of a family that learned how to care for her.

In this article, we'll explore what asthma is, how it affects cats like Biddy and the creative ways people can make their lives more comfortable. It's a journey full of learning, love, and care. Read on to find out more.

A Farm Haven for Asthmatic Cats

Mark Gregory's sprawling 300-acre farm has become something of a haven for wandering cats. Perhaps it's the availability of food or simply the warmth of Mark's care, but cats seem drawn to the farm.

Among these furry visitors was Biddy, a tiny black cat, who appeared on the farm while pregnant. After giving birth and getting spayed, she found her way back to Mark's farm, where she found a permanent home.

Not long after her return, Biddy began to show signs of asthma, a condition that isn't uncommon among cats. Concerned for her health, Mark took her to the vet, who prescribed a medication called prednisone.

It became a running joke at the pharmacy, as Biddy's full name, Biddy "Cat" Gregory, appeared on the prescription label, giving the staff a chuckle each time they prepared her medication.

Her story was just beginning, and her connection with the Gregory family was about to grow even deeper.

Understanding Asthma in Cats

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects the breathing process. Let's break down how it impacts both humans and cats.

Normal Breathing

When you breathe, air goes to the lungs. The lungs add oxygen to the blood. Then the air comes back out when you exhale. It's a natural process.

Breathing with Asthma

For those with asthma, breathing isn't so simple. Many things can cause an asthma attack. These include allergens, cigarette smoke, genetics, weather changes, or exercise. During an attack, the airways get tight. This makes it hard to get air in. Coughing can make it even harder to breathe.

Asthma in Cats: A Silent Struggle

Asthma in cats is particularly challenging. Cats can't tell us what's wrong. They can't explain that they're having trouble breathing. This makes diagnosing and treating their asthma even more difficult.

Recognizing Symptoms

Understanding the symptoms of asthma in cats is vital. Look for signs like wheezing, coughing, or labored breathing. These might indicate that your cat has asthma.

Treatment Options

Treatment is available for asthmatic cats. From medication to lifestyle changes, there are ways to manage the condition. If you suspect your cat has asthma, consult a veterinarian. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in your cat's quality of life.


Biddy and Mickey

While some asthmatics can respond with just prednisone, Biddy's attacks worsened. She was prescribed two inhalers, one for mild attacks and one used only in case of emergency.

The inhalers were attached to a pediatric face mask so Biddy could inhale the medicine and breathe normally. As Biddy's condition worsened, she was using the emergency inhaler almost daily.

Biddy's family was taught how to give her prednisone shots to be administered "as needed". But "as needed" became frequent as Biddy worsened until she finally had an attack the Gregorys couldn't treat.

Biddy was rushed to the emergency vet's office, over forty miles away where she was put on oxygen. After a few hours, the attack passed. When the Gregorys got the $400 bill, they had trouble catching their breath too.

There had to be a less expensive way to keep Biddy breathing. Mark got creative.

Mark called a business that rented oxygen tanks for cutting torches. He was told to use the oxygen for Biddy would constitute medical use, even if she was a cat.

Of course, if it was for a cutting torch... Mark picked up the tank and as he went out the door, the man said, "How's the cat doing?"

A cat crate became an oxygen box, duct-taped on the sides with a plastic covering over the door so Mark could see when Biddy's breathing evened out.

Holes in the crate at the rear let him attach the hoses from the tank. Getting the tank refill only cost $11, a far cry from the $400 at the emergency clinic.

Mark added a regulator so the next tank lasted for two treatments. A second tank as backup gave the Gregorys peace of mind.

Biddy's Inhaler

Each morning, Biddy would hop up on the bed, get a prednisone shot, and treatment with each inhaler. At night, she'd breathe from each inhaler again.

It became her regular routine. Although a prescription is all many asthmatic cats need, Biddy's asthma was severe.

If the cat you want to adopt has asthma, don't be afraid to go through with the adoption. If a cat you have develops asthma, there's no need to panic.

When you know the symptoms and what to do, the extra time and attention an asthmatic cat requires also becomes a bonding experience.

Biddy lived with the Gregorys for seven years before she passed away. She is buried on the farm.

asthmatic cats

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is the generic name for a corticosteroid. It is a fast-acting and efficient anti-inflammatory medication.

Long-term use has a number of serious side effects but in a case like Biddy's, being able to breathe outweighs any potential side effects.

Prednisone also gives a feeling of added energy and reduced pain so the user can resume a more active and normal lifestyle.

Although Biddy lived a shorter life than most cats, without these treatments from an attentive family, she wouldn't have had a life at all.

A Loving Legacy: Supporting Asthmatic Cats

The inspiring story of Biddy and her family is a testament to the deep connection and understanding that can exist between humans and their feline friends.

Living with an asthmatic cat may seem daunting at first, but the Gregorys have shown that with creativity, care, and commitment, it's possible to provide a fulfilling life for a cat with this condition.

Final Tips for Caring for Asthmatic Cats

  1. Recognize the Symptoms Early: Look for signs like wheezing or difficulty breathing. Early detection can make treatment more effective.
  2. Consult a Veterinarian: A professional can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your cat's specific needs.
  3. Create a Comfortable Environment: Minimize allergens and triggers in the home to prevent attacks.
  4. Stay Informed about Treatment Options: From prescription medication like Prednisone to specialized equipment like oxygen tanks, know what's available.
  5. Build a Bond Through Care: The extra time spent caring for an asthmatic cat can strengthen your connection with your pet.

Conclusion: Every Cat Deserves a Chance

Asthmatic cats, like Biddy, are more common than you might think. Understanding their condition is not just a medical necessity but a gesture of love and compassion.

Whether you're adopting a cat with asthma or learning to care for one who develops it, don't be afraid. The road may be challenging, but the reward is a deep, unique bond with a special cat.

Remember, every cat deserves a chance at life, and with the right care and attention, even asthmatic cats can lead fulfilling lives.

Keep learning, stay committed, and above all, love your feline friend unconditionally. Biddy's story is a beautiful reminder of what's possible.

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2 comments on “Asthmatic Cats: Biddy’s Story & How to Care for Cats with Breathing Challenges

granny pants March 21, 2019
I am trying to post a question in the forum but after registering and typing my long-winded question, it says I have to invite people. I don't know who I'm inviting. I need more guidance/explanation in how to post a question in the forum. Also, it took far too long going through the options just to find where one goes to post a question. Seems strange that it's found under my username and not one of the main headers.
seppaloha November 4, 2012
My asthma kitty Mr. Speedy, is on Flovent 2x per day....pricey in the US, but I can get it from Family in Europe for less than $20 per inhaler Speedy was diagnosed with asthma over 7 yrs ago, and was for a while on prednisone, and albuterol inhaler for emergencies...Speedy is still with us, and uses Flovent once a day and Bai Xing Shi Gan tea pills as herbal supplements to support his far he only has had one severe attack that required immediate vet help...We blame the volcano on the east side of our Big Island, but we are glad that we have found a way to control the asthma I am so sorry to hear about Biddy, but happy that you were able to give her a happy home for as long as you were able to....

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