My Cat Can’t Breathe

My Cat Can't Breathe

Breathing difficulties can affect felines of any type or age, and the problem can quickly end up being life threatening. If your cat is having issues with breathing it needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

A Cat Can’t Breathe: When It’s Happen?

The breathing system has many parts, including the nose, throat (pharynx and larynx), windpipe, and lungs. Air comes in through the nose and is then brought down into the lungs, through a process referred to as motivation. In the lungs, the oxygen is transferred to the red blood cells. The red cell then bring the oxygen to other organs in the body. This is all part of the physical procedure of a healthy body.

While oxygen is being moved to the red blood cells, carbon dioxide is transferred from the red cell into the lungs. It is then carried out through the nose through a procedure referred to as expiration. This cyclic motion of breathing is controlled by the respiratory center in the brain and nerves in the chest. Illness that impact the breathing system, or the respiratory center in the brain, can cause breathing problems. Distressed or labored breathing is medically described as dyspnea, and exceedingly fast breathing is medically referred to as tachypnea (also, polypnea).

My Cat Can’t Breathe: Symptoms and Types

Trouble Breathing (dyspnea)

  • The belly and chest relocation when breathing
  • Nostrils might flare open when breathing
  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Breathing with the elbows sticking out from the body
  • Neck and head are held low and out in front of the body (extended)
  • Problem may occur when breathing in (inspiratory dyspnea)
  • Problem may happen when breathing out (expiratory dyspnea)
  • Loud breathing (stridor)

Fast breathing (tachypnea)

  • Rate of breathing is quicker than normal
  • Mouth is normally closed


  • Quick breathing
  • Generally shallow breaths
  • Open mouth

Other symptoms, depending upon the cause of the breathing problem

  • Coughing

My Cat Can’t Breathe: Causes


  • Diseases of the nose

-Little nostrils
-Infection with bacteria or viruses

  • Diseases of the throat and upper windpipe (trachea)

-Roof of the mouth is too long (enlongated soft taste buds)
-Foreign things stuck in the throat

  • Illness of the lungs and lower windpipe

-Infection with bacteria or infections (pneumonia)
-Heart failure with fluid in the lungs (lung edema)
-Bigger heart
-Infection with heartworms
-Bleeding into the lungs

  • Diseases of the small air passages in the lungs (bronchi and bronchioles)

-Infection with bacteria or infections
Allergic reactions

  • Diseases in the area in the chest surrounding the lungs (pleural space)

-Fluid brought on by heart failure
-Air (pneumothorax)
-Blood in the chest (hemothorax)
-Growths in the chest

  • Illness of the chest wall

-Injury to the chest wall (trauma)
-Toxic substances from tick bites incapacitate the chest wall
-Botulism toxins immobilizes the chest

  • Illness that make the belly enlarged or bloated

-Enlarged liver
-Stomach filled with air (bloat)
-Fluid in the belly (ascites)

Tachypnea (quick breathing)

  • Low oxygen level in the blood (hypoxemia)
  • Low red blood cell level (anemia)
  • Asthma
  • Fluid in the lungs due to the fact that of heart failure (lung edema)
  • Fluid in the chest area surrounding the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Bleeding into the lungs
  • Tumors


  • Pain
  • Medications
  • High body temperature (fever)


If your cat is having difficulty breathing, this can be a life threatening emergency situation. It is important to have your feline seen by a veterinarian as quickly as possible. You will need to give an extensive history of your feline’s health, onset of symptoms, and possible occurrences that may have preceded this condition. During the assessment, the veterinarian will thoroughly observe how your feline breathes, and will listen to its chest for evidence of a heart murmur or fluid in the lungs. Your cat’s gum color will be thoroughly evaluated also, because the color of the gums can show whether oxygen is being delivered to the organs (hypoxemia) successfully, or if it there is a low red blood cell count (anemia). Your vet might try to get your feline to cough by pressing on its windpipe. If your feline is having extreme trouble breathing, the vet will give your feline oxygen to assist it breathe before doing any more tests.

Standard tests include a total blood count, biochemical profile, and urine analysis. These will help your vet to identify if your cat has an infection or a low red blood cell count. They will likewise show whether your cat’s internal organs are functioning typically. Your veterinarian will also draw a sample of blood to test the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your cat’s blood. This will help to identify how severe your feline’s breathing difficulty is and whether the problem remains in the lungs or elsewhere in the chest. Your veterinarian may likewise draw blood for a heartworm test. Other diagnostic tools that might be used are X-ray and ultrasound pictures of the chest, both to examine for an enlarged heart that can lead to heart failure, and to see if the lungs appear normal. The internal structure of the abdominal area may likewise be examined utilizing this method. If there appears to be a build-up of fluid in the chest, lungs or belly, a few of that fluid will be drawn off for analysis.

If your cat does appear to have a heart problem, your vet may likewise buy an ECG (electrocardiogram) to measure the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart, both of which identify the heart’s ability to run typically. If your cat’s issue remains in its nose or airways, a little camera called an endoscope may be used to obtain a closer take a look at these areas. These procedures are known as rhinoscopy and bronchoscopy, respectively. While your veterinarian is analyzing your cat with the endoscope, samples of fluid and cells may be taken for biopsic analysis.

Read also about coughing cats treatment.

My Cat Can’t Breathe: Treatment

Treatment will depend on the final medical diagnosis your veterinarian makes for your feline’s breathing issues. The majority of breathing problems need admittance into a healthcare facility up until the failure to take in enough oxygen has actually been dealt with. Your feline will be offered oxygen to help it breathe and to obtain oxygen to its organs, and medications might be offered, either by mouth or intravenously (IV), to assist your family pet breathe. The recommended medication will be dependent on the cause of the breathing issue. Your cat’s activity will be restricted until the breathing issue is solved or significantly enhanced. Cage rest may be a choice if you have no other method of limiting your cat’s motion, and safeguarding your feline from other pets or active children is a vital part of the recovery process.

Living and Management

When your cat is able to return home with you, it will be extremely important to follow your vet’s instructions closely. Give all the medications as directed, and stay to the set up follow-up progress checks with your veterinarian. Your vet will repeat much of the tests that were done when your animal was detected: total blood counts, biochemical profiles, and chest x-rays. All are very important in determining how your cat is reacting to treatment.

Depending upon your feline’s problem, its activity level may have to be minimized for the rest of its life. Your feline may have to be on medication for the rest of its life, too. If you see any modifications in the way your feline is breathing, it is important to consult with your vet instantly.

Also read: Bad Breath in Cats

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References and used sources

D. Roberts (Junior Expert)

He is a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine, and pet care. Believes that the person responsible for each pet, which was taken into the house, and therefore should study his behavior, means of determining health status and methods of first aid.

Pet Health
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  1. Alex

    I saw a cat who had a hard time breathing due to a disease of the stomach. She was more than 10 years old, but the veterinarians managed to save her.