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Heavy Breathing in Cats

Heavy Breathing in Cats

Dogs are notorious for panting. They will pant when they are hot, when they are tired and when they are happy as well. Cats on the other hand may not show this behavior unless they are in some form of distress. Here, our Greeley vets discuss the various reasons for heavy breathing in cats and what you should do if your feline friend begins panting.

Heavy Breathing in Cats

As predators, cats are notorious for hiding any and all signs of illness or injury in order to protect themselves and refrain from showing weakness.

If you notice that your cat is breathing heavily start by assessing the situation based on the criteria below. If you are at all concerned with your cat's heavy breathing or they are displaying any other troubling symptoms, it's best to err on the side of caution and head to the vet for emergency care right away. 

When heavy breathing might be normal in cats

While there are potential concerns when it comes to heavy breathing in cats, you should be aware that there might be moments when your cat will experience heavy breathing and be perfectly healthy. Please take a moment to consider what your cat was doing or experiencing immediately before you noticed their panting.

Just like their canine counterparts, cats may pant if they become overheated, anxious, or following very strenuous exercise (such as being chased by a dog). If your cat is breathing heavy due to any of those reasons the panting should resolve itself once the cat has had an opportunity to calm down, cool down or rest.

As was pointed out above, cats are less likely to experience heavy breathing than dogs are so it is always a good idea to have breathing issues monitored by a vet.

Some of the typical causes of heavy breathing in cats are:

Our Greeley vets often hear concerns from cat parents wondering if the heavy breathing in their cat is normal. Here are some of the potential concerns with heavy breathing in cats:

Asthma in Cats

  • Common signs of asthma in cats include heavy breathing with mouth open, panting, wheezing, and coughing, and increased respiratory rate.  While asthma in cats may not be cured, it can be successfully managed with corticosteroids or bronchodilators.

Heartworm Infection in Cats

  • Heartworm in cats can cause breathing difficulties. Treatment for heartworm includes supportive care with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and oxygen therapy in more severe cases. Heartworm disease is extremely serious and can be fatal, which is why our vets recommend keeping your cat on a monthly heartworm preventative medication.

Hydrothorax & Congestive Heart Failure

  • Hydrothorax is is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid in and around the lungs which can cause deep, rapid breathing, coughing, and panting. Treatment may include draining the fluid, as well as medications to dilate blood vessels, get rid of excess fluid, and make the heart contract more forcefully.

Cats Experiencing Respiratory Infections

  • If your feline friend has developed a respiratory infection it may be difficult for them to breathe normally. Respiratory infections can lead to heavy breathing or panting in cats. These infections typically begin as viral infections, but often develop into secondary bacterial infections. Antibiotics may be required to treat your cat's condition so that they can breathe easier. Humidifiers and steam can help loosen mucus and make nasal breathing easier as your cat recovers.

Other Health Concerns That May Lead To Cats Breathing Heavy

  • Anemia, neurologic disorders, trauma, abdominal enlargement, and pain can also cause cats to pant or exhibit heavy breathing.

Providing your cat with ongoing routine care when they are breathing heavy

If you have worries when it comes to your cats health and their breathing then it is always a good idea to bring them in to be assessed.

It's also important to remember that treatment is most effective when a condition is diagnosed early, before developing into a more severe health concern. Early treatment could save you money in the long run, and may help to protect your cat's health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is panting, breathing heavily or experiencing any other breathing difficulties please contact our Greeley vets at St. Michaels Companion Animal Hospital right away.

Caring for Pets in Greeley

St. Michaels Companion Animal Hospital is always happy to welcome new patients to our animal hospital. Get in touch today to get started!

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