Extra Love Needed: Merlin the Asthma Cat

Hello, I'm Merlin and I have asthma
May I ask how old you are?
I am five years young. 🙂
Where did your name come from?
Mommy and my auntie Linda were going through names for me and when they came to Merlin, it was just perfect. It was the best fit.
How did you come to your forever home?
Mommy and auntie Linda were roommates. They had decided that is was time to get a pet and had seriously thought about getting a guinea pig because they are small, cute and chirp at you. While they were at the PetSmart they stopped at the kitty adoption center and decided they would like a cat instead of a guinea pig. (We’re much cuter you know and MUCH smarter than a smelly old guinea pig any day.) Mommy saw a pretty striped tabby cat that she really thought would be a great new family member so she went into the adoption center to see her. But you know what?!? That old priss wanted NOTHING to do with mommy! Nothing! She just walked away and ignored her.
  Well I come along after watching this little performance, all six months, long legged, suave teenager that I was, and look mommy in the eyes and put my paws on her knees as she kneels down. Mommy turned to auntie Linda and they instantly agreed that I was coming home with them! I even walked right into the crate with no problem! So mommy signed the adoption papers and we have been together ever since.
Showing some fang, all the ladycats love fangs
When were you first diagnosed with asthma?
  Oh, I was about a year and a half old. (Rather young as most cats are diagnosed after two years old.) I started coughing really badly but not having really bad asthma attacks.
Is feline asthma similar to human asthma?
 Feline asthma is similar to human asthma in that it restricts the airways. They are both triggered by outside elements like weather, humidity, allergens, and illnesses. Feline asthma is generally triggered by allergies though and could be considered a severe allergic reaction. Cats also react with asthma attacks from foods, perfumes, candles and litters so environmental factors can be huge.
Are you currently on medication to control the symptoms?
  I am currently on a Flovent Rescue inhaler for when I have an actual attack. Mommy uses an Aerokat which helps meter the dosages and mommy can see if I’m actually breathing in the medication. (Here’s a link to the website: http://www.trudellmed.com/animal-health/aerokat. They also make the meters for dogs and horses.)  I also take Prednisone for when I have severe attacks in the form of a pill but I don’t like those very much. They taste horrible so mommy has to track me down because I hide when I hear the pill bottle. There have been times when I’ve had to have a steroid injection and oxygen to help me breathe as well.
Do you know what your triggers are?
My major triggers are some strong perfumes, smoke, grains, heat, high humidity, sometimes exercise and most definitely stress. A lot of kitty litters also trigger my attacks so mommy can only use one certain brand that works for me.
Another selfie, I'm just to handsome
Can you play like other cats or do you need more breaks?
Oh I can play just like other cats and I do actually. I get the zoomies a couple times of day when I’m feeling really good but when my asthma is flared up I’m more than happy to just relax and either lie on the back of the couch or with mommy snuggled up. It just depends day to day on how I feel and how much energy I actually have.
What is your favorite thing to do?
Spend time with my mommy. I like to follow here in the the rooms especially when he’s in the giant water dish. She likes to soak in there for-ev-er… I try to drain it the best I can by dipping my paw and licking it but there’s sooo much water. So instead, I lie down and just take a nap until she’s done.
Do you live with any fursibilings? If so who?
I have three fursibling right now, but I only get to be with one, Bailey who’s also know as The Mutt. (she’s a 14 year old, one eyed min pin) My sisters and I don’t really get along right now but their names are Smudge and Stella. Stella is ok, but really shy. Smudge is a big meanie to me and I’m actually really scared of her right now. She can cause me to become anxious and trigger an asthma attack so mommy keeps up in different rooms and is looking for an adoptive home for her where she can be someones only kitty.
Me & Smudge.. we're holding the bath mat down for mom
Is there anything you or your mom would like to add about your asthma?
Merlin’s asthma really has no rhyme or reason. He can go weeks without having a single attack then her can have 2-3 attacks a day for weeks. Many of the outside factors like pollen and the heat and cold can really be inconsistent here in Southern California so it’s hard to judge when he’s going to have an attack, but when it does it can be very scary if it’s a bad one.
  I am very thankful that Merlin basically takes his attacks in stride and remains relatively calm though out the ordeal. I leave him alone while he’s having the attack to reduce the anxiety it can cause by touching him while he struggles to breathe and cough. After he’s done with his attack he get’s up, swallows roughly a few times then flicks his tail and walks off.
  The only time he has ever loses his cool with his attacks is when he has to struggle to breathe. That’s when we make a trip to the vet for a steroid injection for a fast and long lasting relief. The injections last an average of 5-7 days but if his asthma is really severe attacks can reappear within 3 days of an injection.
Also here is a great link to information about Feline Asthma from the ASPCA: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/asthma
Is there a support group for people whose cats were newly diagnosed with asthma?
There actually is a Feline Asthma group. Mommy isn’t a member since she has found the the best group to be fellow Facebook owners and kitties who also suffer asthma. One group is: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/felineasthma/info.
There is also a fantastic Facebook support group that mommy is a member of: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fabulous-Furkids-with-Asthma/180536395485969. She really likes them.
Showing off my claws, aren't they sharp?
What are the symptoms cat owners should look out for?
 The biggest one is coughing like they have a hair ball but nothing comes up with a kind of popping gurgling sound in the chest as the cats breathe. Any struggling to catch their breath, falling over and of course if they stop breathing.
Here’s a link to one of my asthma attack videos as well: http://youtu.be/wEsNqOtWOtQ It’s a little dark since it was still early but you can clearly hear what the attack sounds like.

Author’s Note: Many many thanks to Sir Merlin and his wonderfuly Mommy Miss Shannon for letting me ask so many questions about his condition. To learn more about him and his life, follow his adventures on his Facebook page Merlin the Asthma Cat.
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