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Inhaler for Cats: Vet-Approved Tips on How to Use It for an Asthmatic Feline

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 22, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Treating a cat for asthma with an inhaler

Inhaler for Cats: Vet-Approved Tips on How to Use It for an Asthmatic Feline


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Feline asthma is a respiratory condition that results from inflammation and muscle constriction in the airways. It is not well-understood in cats, but is often treated similarly as asthma in humans.

There are several treatments for asthma in cats, including corticosteroid medication and bronchodilators. In some cases, veterinarians may prescribe the use of an inhaler, a device that delivers medication in the form of an aerosolized mist that can be inhaled into the lungs.

If you have or are considering a inhaler for your cat, here’s everything you need to know about the device and some expert tips on how to use one.

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What Is an Inhaler and How Does It Work?

An inhaler is a device that delivers aerosolized medication to the lungs. This gets certain medications to the specific organs that need them, and also avoids systemic effects of the medications.

The medications used with inhalers in cats commonly include steroids and bronchodilators. Steroids are typically used to downregulate inflammation, while bronchodilators are used to relax constricted muscle tissue in the airways.

Inhalers are used with a spacing chamber and a face mask that fits over your cat’s muzzle to allow the medication to be inhaled deeply into the respiratory tract. Inhalers don’t include this additional equipment, so you may need to obtain them online or from your vet.

owner using inhaler to her cat for asthma
Image Credit: RozochkaIvn, Shutterstock

How to Use An Inhaler

Inhalers may not be an enjoyable experience for your cat, but they can get used to them with some training and patience.

Here are some tips to get your cat used to the inhaler:
  • Practice with the mask with the inhaler and spacing chamber off; start by placing the mask up to your cat, to allow them to become familiar with it.
  • Initial mask placements should only last for a second or two, becoming longer as your cat adjusts.
  • Try putting wet cat food or baby food inside of the mask and let your cat lick it.
  • Speak in a soothing voice and praise your cat for tolerating the mask.
  • Offer a treat or toy after the practice treatment is complete to reinforce positivity.

Once your cat is used to the mask, you can trial adding the inhaler and spacing chamber. You will need to follow the manufactuer’s instructions for both the mask, chamber and the inhaler, which may include:

  • Shake the inhaler.
  • Insert the inhaler into the chamber and gently apply the mask to your cat’s muzzle.
  • Use the inhaler to release the appropriate amount of medication. Allow your cat to breathe this for 5-6 breaths.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Is An Inhaler Different Than A Nebulizer?

An inhaler is a small, self-contained device that delivers aerosolized medication. A nebuliser is a larger unit that generally requires input (electricity or oxygen, and water) and delivers humidified air, as well as anything added to the water in the nebuliser.

Nebulisers are occasionally used in feline medicine to help humidify the environment for hospitalized cats, or at home for similar reasons, but rarely would they be used for other purposes.

How Many Times A Day Does My Cat Need Their Inhaler?

If an inhaler is prescribed, your vet will give you instructions on how often to use it. Depending on the medication, the inhaler may be used as needed, or even multiple times daily.

woman using inhaler to her black cat with asthma
Image Credit: Jota Buyinch Photo, Shutterstock

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If your cat has asthma or other respiratory conditions, an inhaler can be a helpful treatment to open their airways and help them breathe more comfortably. Getting a cat used to inhaler treatments takes some training, but it’s generally a simple and smooth process. Always follow your vet’s instructions for using an inhaler to treat your cat’s condition.

Featured Image Credit: Shveyn Irina, Shutterstock

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