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Asthma and Inhalers

Rapid delivery of an inhaled/topical drug during an acute respiratory crisis, or long-term administration in feline asthmatics is possible through the use of a spacer.

A spacer is a cylindrical device approximately 7cm in diameter and 15-20cm in length, with a thin rubber gasket on the end with a face mask attachment.   The rubber gasket functions as a one-way valve opening on inspiration to allow inhalation of the medication and closing on expiration to prevent escape of the drug.


To set up the spacer, assemble the unit and attach a Ventolin inhaler.   Fill the spacer with 4-5 inhalations of Ventolin to ‘prime’ the unit and wait 10-15 minutes to allow the particles to adhere to the inner surface.   Next administer the required dosage of inhalant medication as follows:

1. Give two puffs of the Ventolin to fill the spacer, then immediately apply the mask gently to the cat’s face for 30 seconds of tidal breathing (7-10 breaths).   Leaving the mask on for more than 30 seconds makes cats restless and is not encouraged.   It may be necessary to scruff the cat, hold its front feet down, or both.

2. Administer two puffs of Flixotide 5 minutes later (after the Ventolin has relieved bronchoconstriction) to maximise exposure of airways to the inhaled corticosteroid.

Weekly cleaning of the spacer is required to prevent powder accumulation on its inner surface.   This is best achieved in warm water with no detergent.   Priming needs to be repeated after weekly cleaning but not before each use.

cat with spacer

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