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Cat Breathing Heavily While Resting –  9 Causes For It 

Cat Breathing Heavily While Resting –  9 Causes For It 

Cat breathing heavily while resting, what is expected of you as a cat owner? First, calm down and don’t panic.

Difficulty breathing is usually the top priority in the health emergency list in cats because cats are usually great at hiding the fact that they are sick and in pain, and the causes of heavy breathing in cats are likely to be quite severe.

That’s why we prepared all you need to know about heavy breathing and ways to help your dear feline friend.

Types Of Heavy Breathing In Cats

cat with stripes laying on the floor

The term “heavy breathing” is general. Let’s examine some of the various breathing patterns and what they might indicate.

Cat breathing heavily while resting – It is normal for a cat to breathe heavily after strenuous exercise, but if a cat is breathing heavily while at rest, it may indicate a serious health problem such as heart failure or lung disease.

This type of heavy breathing, except for the rare deep sigh, should be taken seriously and prompt attention from a veterinarian is advised.

Cat wheezing – Wheezes are high-pitched noises that are typically made when a cat exhales. They might indicate a partial airway obstruction, like the airway narrowing brought on by feline asthma.

Cat fast breathing – When they are not getting enough oxygen or exhaling enough carbon dioxide, cats will breathe rapidly. A cat may breathe more quickly after exercise, but after resting, their breathing should return to normal.

There are various conditions that can cause a cat to breathe rapidly, including lung disease, upper respiratory tract illnesses, heart disease, metabolic disorders, blood disorders, high body temperature, pain, or stress.

These conditions need to be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian to ensure the well-being of the cat.

• Cat panting – Unlike dogs, cats do not typically pant unless they are excessively hot. It is not common for a cat to pant after playing or other physical activity

Even though it may not sound dangerous, cats will occasionally pant when they are very stressed. You should try to determine why they are stressed and what you can do to make things better.

• Cat sounds congested – Upper respiratory infections in cats frequently present with nasal congestion in addition to nasal discharge.

Although their nose appears normal, if your cat sounds “gurgly,” congestion in their lungs may be the cause, which could be a sign of pneumonia, heart disease, or another serious medical condition.

• Cat with abdominal breathing – Normal breathing will cause a cat’s abdomen to move slightly, but they shouldn’t need to contract their abdominal muscles in order to breathe.

Cat with labored breathing – Cats that have respiratory issues might breathe heavily because they need to take deeper breaths, deeper than healthy cats without any respiratory issues. Often, if you look closely, you can see that they are exerting a lot of effort to breathe.

• Cat breathing loudly – When air is forced through an abnormally small area of the respiratory tract, it usually results in noisy breathing. This may occur when there are issues with the pharynx (back of the mouth and nose), trachea, or small airways.

Open-mouth breathing – When a cat breathes through their mouth rather than their nose, it may indicate that they are having a difficult time breathing.

Cat with shallow breathing – Particularly when they are sleeping, a cat in good health may appear to be breathing shallowly. Shallow breathing, however, is abnormal if it is accompanied by other signs like an open mouth, rapid breathing, or labored breathing.

Potential Causes Of Heavy Breathing In Cats

clear mucus snot on sick orange tabby cat

Cats can experience heavy breathing for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are more serious cases to their health.

Heartworms – After being bitten by a mosquito carrying larval Dirofilaria immitis parasites, cats can contract heartworm disease.

Toxins and drugs – Blood clotting-impaired poisons can cause bleeding and labored breathing. Cats should never be given acetaminophen (Tylenol), as it impairs the ability of their red blood cells to transport oxygen. Cats’ breathing difficulties can also result from other toxic and drug reactions.

Asthma and chronic bronchitis – Cats that suffer from asthma, and chronic bronchitis can have trouble breathing, usually they wheeze and cough.

Trauma – Breathing issues can result from chest injuries, of course, but they can also result from injuries to other parts of the body that cause pain, bleeding, neurological problems, or the movement of abdominal organs into the chest cavity.

Infections – Upper respiratory infections, tracheobronchitis, and pneumonia can all be brought on by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms.

Foreign objects – Cats are capable of inhaling objects that obstruct their breathing by getting stuck in their airways.

Heart disease – Heart issues can negatively impact blood flow, lead to fluid accumulation in or around the lungs, and cause heart enlargement, all of which can make cats breathe more heavily.

Fluid or gas around the lungs – The lungs have a difficult time expanding when there is an accumulation of blood, pus, chyle (a fatty liquid), and other fluids or gas in the chest cavity.

Cancer – The respiratory system of a cat may be impacted by numerous tumor types.

How Vets Diagnose Breathing Problems In Cats

female veterinarian medical doctor with cat

If a cat is experiencing breathing problems, a veterinarian will typically perform a physical examination and take a thorough medical history.

The vet will listen to the cat’s chest and lungs with a stethoscope to check for any signs of wheezing, crackling, or other abnormal sounds. The veterinarian may also check the cat’s gums and tongue for cyanosis (a bluish tint) and may use a pulse oximeter to measure the cat’s oxygen levels.

In addition to a physical examination, the vet may perform additional tests to help diagnose the cause of the cat’s breathing problems. These tests may include:

Radiographs (X-rays) of the chest: These can help identify any structural abnormalities, such as tumors or fluid in the lungs.

Blood tests: These can help rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing the cat’s breathing problems, such as anemia or infection.

Bronchoscopy: This is a procedure in which a small flexible tube with a camera is inserted through the nose or mouth and into the lungs to examine the airways and take samples of any fluid or mucus present.

Transtracheal washes: This is a procedure in which a small amount of fluid is flushed through a tube passed through the trachea (windpipe) to collect samples of cells and fluid from the lungs.

The vet may also recommend an allergy test, especially if the cat is coughing or sneezing. Once the veterinarian has determined the cause of the cat’s breathing problems, they will recommend the best course of treatment for the cat.

Treatment Options For Heavy Breathing In Cats

The course of action will be determined by the precise reason why your cat is breathing heavily. Treatment for many cases of heavy breathing in cats often includes supportive care in a veterinary clinic.

Rest, nursing attention, oxygen therapy to maintain oxygen levels, fluid therapy to remove excess fluid, or nutritional assistance may all be necessary for veterinary care. Once your cat is healthy enough to continue recovering at home, it should remain inside and under close observation.

If you have any queries or worries, call your vet. And keep in mind that a cat has the best chance of a quick recovery the sooner the cause of its labored breathing is identified and treated.

Dyspnea – Abnormal Breathing In Cats

cute kitten looking sick while laying

If your cat isn’t sweaty, stressed out, or exhausted from exercise but is having trouble breathing, there may be a medical problem. A visit to the emergency veterinary hospital may be necessary if you suspect that your pet is afflicted with any of the five illnesses listed below.

1. Heartworm

Heartworm is caused by a type of roundworm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted to cats through the bite of an infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, the larvae enter the mosquito’s body and mature

. When the mosquito then bites a cat, the larvae are transferred to the cat’s bloodstream, where they eventually grow into adult worms and migrate to the heart and lungs.

Heartworm infection in cats can cause a wide range of symptoms, including coughing, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can lead to heart failure and death.

However, many cats can be asymptomatic and only found to have heartworm during a routine check-up. Your cat needs to be on monthly heartworm preventative medication.

2. Respiratory Infections

Your cat may struggle to breathe normally due to a respiratory infection, which may cause heavy breathing or panting. These infections frequently begin as viral infections in cats before progressing to secondary bacterial infections.

In order to treat the infection and help your cat breathe more easily, antibiotics might be required.

3. Hydrothorax & Congestive Heart Failure

Cats who have hydrothorax face serious health risks. A buildup of fluid in and around the lungs is one of its defining features. The signs of hydrothorax can include coughing, panting, and rapid breathing.

In addition to medications that dilate blood vessels, eliminate extra fluid, and strengthen heart contractions, this condition is treated by draining the fluid.

4. Asthma

Asthma, also known as feline asthma, is a respiratory condition that affects cats. It is caused by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult for the cat to breathe. Common symptoms of feline asthma include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

In severe cases, the cat may experience rapid breathing, open-mouthed breathing, and cyanosis (a bluish tint to the gums and tongue).

Treatment for feline asthma typically involves the use of inhaled medications to open up the airways, as well as corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and increased respiratory rate.

5. Other Causes Of Panting In Cats

• Abdominal enlargement and pain

• Trauma

• Neurologic disorders

• Anemia

Tachypnea – Rapid And Shallow Breathing

Cat languishes in the heat lying on the ground with its tongue out

However uncomfortable dyspnea may feel, your cat may not even be aware of their own rapid breathing. The following signs are frequently present when breathing rapidly:

Insufficient oxygenation is indicated by the gums and mucous membranes having a bluish tint. Cyanosis is another name for this.

Tachypnea frequently results in fatigue. Your cat will be reluctant to move around or exercise if they are having breathing problems.

Cats with tachypnea typically do not breathe through their mouth, in contrast to panting cats.

How Does The Normal Breathing Look In A Cat?

You probably already know that cats naturally breathe more quickly than humans if you’ve ever tried to match your breath with your cat’s and ended up dizzy in the process.

A cat may breathe between 20 and 30 times per minute, compared to an adult’s resting respiration rate of 12 to 16 breaths per minute.

What Should I Do If I Think My Cat Is Having Trouble Breathing?

veterinarian examining grey cat

The majority of the time, difficulty breathing is a sign of deeper issues. Heavy breathing is a warning sign to take your cat to the vet, especially if it is persistent and present along with other signs of distress.

There are some instances of heavy breathing where a trip to the vet is not required. It’s typical for cats to breathe heavily after strenuous exercise or during a stressful situation. This kind of labored breathing won’t seem painful or labored, and it should stop in a few minutes.

Never disregard a supposedly healthy cat’s labored breathing. Schedule a visit with your vet unless your cat has only been active or experienced stress and returned to their normal behavior.

Even if it requires a trip to the emergency room in the middle of the night, you should see a veterinarian right away if your cat is displaying severe symptoms. Cats with severe breathing issues may be on the verge of passing out.

Final Thoughts

Cat breathing heavily while resting may be a sign of an underlying health issue. Some possible causes include heart disease, lung disease, respiratory infection, or asthma. It’s also important to note that some cats may have a naturally higher breathing rate than others.

Therefore, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and emergency veterinary care. The veterinarian will examine the cat, may perform some tests, and recommend appropriate treatment based on the underlying cause.

It’s important to address heavy breathing in cats as soon as possible, as it can be a sign of a serious medical condition that requires prompt attention.

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