Bronchitis in cats

Bronchitis can develop in cats of any age, although it most commonly develops in young adult and middle-aged animals. The major clinical feature is cough or episodic respiratory distress or both. The owners may report audible wheezing during an episode of cat bronchitis. The signs are often slowly progressive. Weight loss, anorexia, depression or other systemic signs are not present when cats have bronchitis.

Owners should be carefully questioned regarding an association with exposure to potential allergens or irritants - such as new litter (usually perfumed), cigarette or fireplace smoke, carpet cleaners, or household items containing perfumes such as deodorant or hair spray. They should also be questioned about whether there has been any recent remodeling or any other change in the cat's environment, which could also be a source of allergens. Seasonal exacerbations are another sign of potential allergen exposure.

The physical examination findings result from small airway obstruction. Cats that are in distress show tachypnea, with increased respiratory efforts during expiration. Auscultation reveals respiratory wheezes, particularly during such episodes. Crackles are occasionally present. Physical examination findings may be unremarkable between episodes.

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