Cats are blamed for triggering asthma attacks in humans but veterinarians in Scotland said on Wednesday it may also work the other way around.
Irritants such as cigarette smoke, dusty homes and human dandruff can increase inflammation in feline lungs and worsen asthma in cats.
“There is a percentage of asthmatic cats whose asthma has been triggered by things people do, or possibly by people themselves,” said Nicki Reed, of the University of Edinburgh’s Hospital for Small Animals in Scotland.
“Cats with feline asthma syndrome can be made worse by living in a household where people smoke, or where there are other potential allergens or irritants.
In the first study of its kind in Britain, Reed and her team are planning a trial involving 50 cats to determine whether a bacterium called Mycoplasma which is found in human asthma patients in also involved in the feline disease.
If it is, they hope it will lead to improved treatments for the one in about 200 cats that suffer coughs, wheezing and shortness of breath caused by asthma.
Pedigree oriental breeds such as Siamese cats are more prone to the respiratory problem than other cats, according to the researchers.