My cat has developed asthma this year. She’s eight years old and helps keep our smallholding free from rats, mice and rabbits. My vet says that asthma is an allergic reaction to something breathed in. I’ve thought about it since and the only thing that has changed is that my daughter likes to use scented plug-ins. Could this be the problem?Sharon Davies, via email

Maybe it’s that these plug-ins are more common than they used to be, but I see many cats and house rabbits (fewer dogs) which have been affected by plug-ins, particularly certain susceptible individuals. The calming pheromone plug-ins (DAP and Feliway) are extremely useful to reduce stress in pet dogs and cats respectively, but the scented plug-ins contain all sorts of chemicals which can set up an allergic reaction, not only in pets but in some people. Those with only aromatic oils in may be less of a problem, but the animal needs to be able to choose to move to a clean room if it doesn’t like the smell. Both cat and rabbit lungs are relatively smaller than dog lungs, so get affected more easily by disease or allergies. The sense of smell is so heightened in animals that we have difficulty in appreciating it – our area of smell receptors, if spread out, would cover a pocket handkerchief. A dog’s would cover a tennis court and cats are similar, so we tend to overwhelm our pets with scents if they can’t escape from them. Strong aftershave and perfume can also be a problem, especially with people whose sense of smell is not very good so that they use more of it. VR

Victoria Roberts BVSC MRCVSEmail the Vet’s forum at:

Disclaimer: The information and advice in this column is given in good faith. However, as the animals in question have not been examined by the author, no liability in respect of diagnosis or application of any treatments is accepted either by the author or by Country Smallholding

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