This article first appeared on iCatCare here.
International Cat Care, in partnership with Trudell Animal Health, has created a series of videos to help caregivers train their cats to use asthma inhaler devices calmly and without fear.
Asthma can affect cats just as it affects people. It’s a relatively common condition known by two terms; ‘feline asthma’ and ‘chronic bronchitis’. Signs and symptoms include coughing and difficulty breathing, and it can affect cats of any age, breed or sex.
Steroids are generally used to treat feline asthma, often in the form of tablets. However, as with people, treatment via an inhaler or ‘puffer’ is preferable as it delivers treatment directly into the lungs and has fewer side effects than tablet therapy. Inhaler therapy is possible for cats via a special mask which fits a cat’s mouth and nose and holds the air containing the drugs, allowing the cat to inhale the medication over a number of breaths.
Theory is one thing, but the thought of teaching cats to put their heads anywhere near the apparatus may – understandably – initially seem daunting. And, if a cat is not breathing well, the last thing you want to do is stress or frighten it by using force.
Achieving this positively, and in a cat-centred way was the inspiration behind the new series of videos created by iCatCare in partnership with Trudell Animal Health (designers of chambers for dogs, cats and horses). Until now, there hasn’t been much help out there for caregivers, and these videos are designed to help caregivers to train their cats to use the Aerokat* device calmly and without fear or distress in a step-by-step format that’s easy to follow.
iCatCare’s Cat Advocacy Programme Manager, Linda Ryan, trained her cat Olive, using positive reinforcement, to use the inhaler and recorded each stage from start to finish. It may not be a quick process, and requires patience and understanding, but, as treatment will be needed for the cat’s entire lifetime, this initial investment of time is well worth it, and this is made clear when Olive reaches the stage where she voluntarily puts her face into the mask.
For more information, visit Trudell Animal Health website.