In the USA, veterinarians estimate that 800,000 of the more than 80 million cats suffer from acute or chronic asthma1. This condition is incurable, but veterinary research is making progress in treating it effectively.
Asthma attacks can be unpleasant and uncomfortable for your cat and stressful for you, prompting you to seek treatment. Naturally, the cost is a factor in choosing to treat any condition in your pet and may determine what treatment options you pursue. If the treatment your vet recommends is corticosteroids, each tablet will cost approximately $0.16-$0.29, and if you use an inhaler for your cat, each use can cost $4.10. The total treatment cost will depend on the dosage your vet recommends and any additional tests that are required.
Here’s how much cat asthma treatment costs and some different factors that impact your expenses.
What Is Cat Asthma?
During an asthma attack, your cat’s breathing may suddenly become more rapid. They will try to take in air with their mouth open, with shallow and rapid breaths and abnormal movement in their abdomen. There may also be a wheezing sound.
Asthma can be severe, with attacks that rarely occur and don’t interfere with your cat’s quality of life or significant attacks that may be life-threatening. In severe or life-threatening attacks, the restriction of breathing can cause possibly deadly oxygen deprivation. This constitutes an emergency.
No matter the severity, an asthma attack is distressing for your cat. They don’t know what’s happening and may experience fear or anxiety because they can’t breathe, and that’s not pleasant for anyone. Fortunately, you have options to manage your cat’s asthma and improve their quality of life.
How Much Does Cat Asthma Treatment Cost?
Cat asthma itself isn’t treatable, but its symptoms can be managed with oral, injectable, or inhaled medications to relieve the airway constriction and prevent recurrences. Keep in mind that this is a lifelong condition with enduring treatment costs.
Treatment options have a wide range, but corticosteroids like depo-medrol or prednisolone that can be used to treat asthma are inexpensive. Prednisolone is only around $0.27–$0.29 per 10-milligram tablet and $0.16–$0.17 per 5-milligram tablet, respectively, based on prices from 1800PetMeds.
Despite the low cost, corticosteroids have side effects that need to be weighed against the benefits for long-term use. As an alternative, inhalant drugs may be used to reduce inflammation in the airway (just like human asthma treatment), but they are more expensive and difficult to use with cats. Cats can be trained to wear an inhaler mask such as the aero kat inhaler to make inhaled steroid administration more successful.
An inhaler may cost as much as $500, making the cost per use around $4.10. Cats may need one use each day or multiple uses each day, quickly leading to high costs.
Other options may include oral antihistamines, cyclosporine, or oral bronchodilators, which are comparable in cost to corticosteroids.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
The costs of the asthma treatment for your cat doesn’t include the diagnostic testing process, which can vary widely. It can be difficult to definitively diagnose asthma since other symptoms can mimic it.
Your veterinarian will likely want to start with a physical examination and X-rays. X-rays are the best way to diagnose asthma. X-rays are taken to determine if there’s structural changes to the lungs commonly seen with asthma. Chest X-rays can range from $100 to $250.
The diagnostic approach for asthma is to exclude other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. This may include blood tests to see if there’s a high concentration of white cells, eosinophils, which are common with allergic responses, or parasitic infections. This can cost anywhere from $75 to $190 for one test, and standard testing costs around $260.
Your vet may also do a fecal test to rule out the presence of parasites that may cause asthma-like symptoms. This may be around $20.
Keep in mind that this is just for diagnostic testing, which can vary according to your location, your individual vet’s office, and the extent of the testing your cat needs. You may also be dealing with something other than asthma, which may be more or less expensive to treat.
Furthermore, if your cat has a life-threatening asthma attack and you need to seek emergency vet care, the costs can be considerable. Depending on the location of your emergency clinic, the cost can range from $800 to $1,500 to get your cat stabilized.
How Often Should I Treat My Cat’s Asthma?
As mentioned, treatment for cat asthma doesn’t treat the condition itself, but seeks to manage the symptoms effectively.
Each treatment option has a different protocol. Whether you’re using injectable, inhaled or oral steroids, the goal of therapy is to find the lowest effective dose and interval that manages your cat’s symptoms. Some cats will need daily medications while others may do well with every other day or twice weekly administration. Your vet will advise you on the best treatment protocol for your cat’s specific symptoms and frequency of attacks.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Cat Asthma Treatment?
Asthma is a chronic condition, so it’s often covered by pet insurance. Depending on the specifics of your policy and coverage, this may include emergency visits related to an asthma attack, supportive care, and diagnostic testing.
Some insurance companies offer additional coverage for prescriptions, which can help with the cost of your cat’s asthma medication.
If the condition existed prior to enrolling your cat, however, it’s a pre-existing condition, and most pet insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Your policy may also have deductibles and plan limits, so it’s best to consult with your insurance provider to discuss the details of your policy and coverage.
How to Minimize Asthma Attacks in Your Cat
Treatment for asthma is designed to control the attacks and symptoms. Along with medication, you can help your cat by minimizing the triggers that lead to an immune response and an asthma attack.
Common allergens that may trigger an asthma attack in a cat include:
You may not be able to eliminate your cat’s asthma symptoms completely, but if you can remove the triggers, you may be able to lower the frequency of attacks. This is especially important if your cat is prone to severe asthma attacks that can become critical.
Cat asthma is an uncomfortable and stressful condition for both you and your cat. Because it’s an immune response, asthma has no cure or direct treatment. The treatment options seek to minimize attacks and alleviate the symptoms using oral corticosteroids, antihistamines, or inhaled medications. You and your vet can choose the best treatment for your cat based on their individual medical history and the severity of their symptoms.
Featured Image Credit: RozochkaIvn, Shutterstock