The Cat Care

Heavy Breathing Cat

Heavy Breathing Cat: Dangers, Course of Action, and Remedies

Sneezy, Wheezy, Snorey cats are little adorable creatures that we all love but is the wheezing something to be worried about?

You may have often seen dogs pant to cool themselves down, but the similar activity in cats may be more than what it looks like on the surface! Our heavy breathing cats suffering from difficulties, or is it just a means to calm themselves down? Let’s find out in this article!

Heavy breathing and panting are commonly linked with dogs, since that’s how they cool off. This conduct isn’t commonly seen in cats, but on rare occasions, you can notice your cat breathing heavily. Here in this article, we discuss the reasons why your cat might be breathing heavily/panting and why you should call your vet.

In dogs, panting is a natural response to overheating, but in cats, it can be a sign of an underlying health issue. When your cat is panting or breathing hard, it’s important to know what to do and when to call for help.

If you are noticing your cat breathing heavily, and you are worried that your cat may be suffering internally, then read this entire article for comprehensive information.

We are providing in-depth causes, courses of action, and remedies for ailments leading to a heavy breathing cat. 

If you notice that your cat is experiencing difficulty breathing, or want to know 

“How heavy should my cat be breathing”, Head down and enlighten yourself on the topic now!

Heavy Breathing Cat: Brief

Breathing issues are both a symptom of and cause of discomfort, both in the respiratory system and throughout your cat’s body.

The respiratory system, comprising the nose, trachea, and lungs, is a life-giving system that affects a cat’s whole body. Therefore, alterations in your cat’s breath may come from abnormalities in practically any aspect of your cat’s body.

Air enters your cat’s body through their nose and travels into their lungs, transporting oxygen into your cat’s blood and feeding the organs. As oxygen enters your cat’s body, through the nose, carbon dioxide travels out and into the atmosphere.

The movement of breath is controlled by the respiratory center in your cat’s brain and a network of nerves in their chest. When their body is in balance, your cat’s respiration is smooth and moderate without pausing, wheezing, or excessive stomach movement.

Changes in your cat’s respiratory rhythm have a world of basic reasons. They could include direct damage or dysfunction in the respiratory system, or could arise as a means to restore balance in the body.

What To Do If You Notice Your Cat Breathing Heavily?

Heavy breathing is often a sign of underlying health issues. Heavy breathing is a warning indication to send your cat to the doctor, especially if it persists and is accompanied by other signs of illness.

There are several instances where a trip to the vet isn’t necessary when a cat is wheezing excessively. During strenuous activity or a stressful situation, cats may inhale more heavily than usual. This is typical. Within a few minutes, this sort of shaky breathing will lessen and seem normal. On the contrary, if heavy breathing happens out of nowhere, then you will have to rush your cat to the vet immediately.

What To Do If You Notice Your Cat Panting?

You may not need to worry if your cat’s panting after fun, or when on a stroll or at the vet’s office. When they’re thrilled, agitated, or having fun outside in the heat, cats tend to pant and breathe fast. This is a natural reaction, and it is rarely a medical crisis.

Your cat’s breathing is likely to return to normal if they are given water and cool air.

The fact that a cat may pant is natural, but excessive panting may point to more significant health issues that require to be addressed right away by a veterinarian.

Your cat’s heavy snoring or panting after a long day of lying around is a sign of a more serious problem and should be taken seriously. It’s time to make an appointment with the veterinarian in this situation.

Assess the issue based on the criteria explained in the article below if you see your cat panting or displaying difficult breathing. You should take your cat to the vet if his or her breathing appears abnormal or if his or her heavy breathing lasts for an extended length of time.

Confused as to how to figure out if your cat is breathing normally or there is an immediate need for medical attention? Head down for answers!

Now, let’s talk about normal panting/breathing and abnormal panting/ breathing to understand when an immediate vet appointment is required.

Heavy Breathing Cat: Cats’ Typical Panting

Cats are known to pant in various situations. When you first see your cat panting, take a minute to think about what your cat was doing or experiencing at the time.

Cats pant for a variety of reasons, including being hot, stressed, or having just finished an intense workout. The cat’s panting should stop once it has had a chance to settle down, chill off, or rest.

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that panting like this is considerably more common in cats than dogs. It’s recommended to take your cat to the vet if you’re not sure why he’s panting.

Exactly How Fast Does a Cat Normally Breathe?

Want to know how heavy should my cat be breathing? Let’s have a look at the normal speed at which cats breathe and figure out if your furball is experiencing difficulty breathing.

If you’ve ever tried to sync your breath with your cat’s and ended up feeling dizzy, you know that cats naturally breathe faster than people do. It is possible for a cat to take between 20 and 30 breaths per minute during its resting phase.

In order to determine your cat’s resting respiration rate, count how many breaths your cat takes while it is sleeping. It is described as an inhale and exhale for a breath to be complete. Take a minute to count your cat’s breaths, then multiply by two to determine the number of breaths your cat takes every minute.

A cat’s resting breathing rate should be no more than 20 breaths per minute, but a figure beyond 30 is a cause for concern.

Let’s have a look at this video to understand a cat;’s resting respiratory rate.

Signs of Rapid Breathing in Cats

  • Rapid rise and fall of the stomach or chest.
  • Breathing with an open mouth (panting).
  • Coughing.
  • Gagging.
  • Breathing with the elbows protruding from the body.
  • Noisy breathing.
  • Lethargy/fatigue.
  • Blue gums.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Unable to exercise or move, reluctant to move, exercise intolerance.

Causes of Cats’ Rapid Breathing

Heavy breathing in cats is an indication of a number of diseases and injuries and should be addressed by your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you want to know more about “why is my cat coughing”, let’s have a look at the reasons why your cat might be breathing heavily.

  • Allergies.
  • Anemia.
  • Asthma.
  • Emotional pain
  • Exertion.
  • Heart disease.
  • Heart failure.
  • Heat.
  • Pain.
  • Heartworm.
  • Pleural effusion (abnormal accumulation of fluid within the chest cavity).
  • Pulmonary Edema (lungs filling with fluid).
  • Objects stuck in the windpipe or other airway blockage
  • Infections of the lungs.
  • Trauma, toxic exposure, or damage.
  • Tumors of the chest or throat.
  • Low quantities of oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia).
  • Red blood cell count is low (anemia).
  • Bleeding into the lungs.
  • Objects stuck in the windpipe or other airway blockage
  • Foam or froth emerging from the mouth.

There are particularly three types of excessive breathing in cats, let’s have a look at each type of excessive breathing now!

The Three Types Of Cats With Excessive Breathing

However, quick breathing is not necessarily associated with heavy breathing. Excessive breathing can emerge in a variety of ways.

Our cat’s labored breathing might be classified as dyspnea, tachypnea, or panting. Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of heavy breathing.

1. Dyspnea — Difficulty Breathing

This is when your cat has difficulty breathing. Dyspnea in cats manifests itself in the following ways:

  • Their abdomen and chest move in unison with their breathing.
  • Cats suffering from dyspnea occasionally open their jaws when breathing.
  • Their respiration may be rather audible.
  • Each time they take a breath, their nostrils may flare open.
  • Cats suffering from dyspnea are frequently restless and unable to sleep.
  • Due to the difficulty of breathing, cats suffering from dyspnea may stretch their head and neck when breathing.

What Causes Cats’ Dyspnea?

  • Tracheal disorders, such as foreign items lodged in the throat, malignancies, or an enlarged soft palate.
  • Nasal abnormalities, such as nostrils that are too small, infections, tumors, or bleeding.
  • Disease of lungs and windpipe.
  • Infections, fluid in the lungs, heartworms, or tumors are all examples of pulmonary diseases.
  • Chest wall dysfunctions induced by toxins, including physical damage and paralysis.
  • Insufficiency of the heart.
  • Abdominal disorders such as enlargement of the liver, bloating, or fluid accumulation.

What To Do If Your Cat Is Having Difficulty Breathing?

Because it is inherently painful, this form of heavy breathing in cats might be the most distressing. If your cat’s breath looks laborious, immediately take him to the veterinarian’s office.

2. Tachypnea — Breathing That Is Rapid And Shallow

While dyspnea is unpleasant, your cat may be unaware of its own fast breathing.

The following symptoms are frequently associated with rapid breathing:

A blue hue to the gums and mucosal membranes indicates an oxygen deficiency. This condition is sometimes referred to as cyanosis.

Fatigue is a frequent complication of tachypnea. If your cat has respiratory difficulties, he or she will also be reluctant to exercise or move.

In contrast to panting cats, cats with tachypnea do not often breathe via their mouth.

What Causes Cats’ Tachypnea?

  • Hypoxia (insufficient oxygen in the blood) 
  • Anemia (decreased red blood cell count)
  • A tumor that takes up a lot of space
  • Heart attack
  • Heartworms

Tachypnea can occur as a result of fever when your cat breathes quickly in an attempt to cool down.

When cats are anxious, they may breathe fast. You may notice your cat experiencing tachypnea in stressful situations, such as seeing the veterinarian or coming into contact with a dog outside.

What Should You Do If Your Cat’s Breathing Is Excessively Rapid?

A resting respiratory rate of more than 30 beats per minute is deemed abnormal. If your cat’s sleeping respiration rate surpasses 40 breaths per minute for an extended length of time, an emergency visit to the veterinarian is necessary.

If your cat is quickly breathing while out for a stroll on a busy city sidewalk, you are most likely dealing with a momentary panic response. Keep an eye on your cat and try to keep them as cool and relaxed as possible. If fast breathing does not lessen once apparent stresses are eliminated, you may need to take your cat to the veterinarian.

3. Panting — Breathing Rapidly With The Mouth Open

Panting is essentially open-mouthed tachypnea. Cats, like dogs, pant when they are overexerted or subjected to severe heat.

Panting may also indicate the presence of more significant underlying illnesses, such as heart or lung disease.

What Causes Cats to Pant?

Is your cat having trouble breathing? Let’s look at some of the reasons why your cat is having trouble breathing or is panting heavily.

  • When cats become overheated, they pant.

Cats, like dogs, require panting to regulate their body temperature. This quick breathing with an open mouth enables them to regulate their body temperature in hot conditions.

  • When cats are enthusiastic or exert themselves, they may pant.

After fun or while out on a stroll, you may notice your cat panting. This may occur as a result of your cat’s obesity, or it may be a natural response to sustained exercise, especially in warm weather.

  • Stress is a frequent precipitant.

Cats frequently pant when in the automobile or at the veterinarian.

  • Heart problems

Panting may be caused by cardiac abnormalities such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (abnormally thickened heart muscles).

Several illnesses that might be causing cats to breathe heavily

  • Asthma

Several asthmatic cats pant in addition to coughing, hacking, and wheezing. Symptoms also include an elevated respiratory rate. While asthma cannot be cured in cats, it can be controlled successfully with corticosteroids or bronchodilators.

  • Heartworm 

Heartworm infection in cats can cause difficulty breathing. Heartworm treatment consists of supportive care with corticosteroids to decrease inflammation and, in more severe instances, oxygen therapy. Due to the devastating nature of heartworm illness, it is critical to keep your cat on a monthly heartworm preventative medicine.

  • Cardiomyopathy 

It is a term that refers to an enlarged heart. This is frequently followed by congestive heart failure. This is due to the heart’s insufficient pumping function, which results in fluid buildup in the chest and/or lungs.

  • Respiratory Infections 

It might be difficult for your kitty to breathe properly if they have gotten a respiratory infection. Infections of the respiratory tract in cats can result in difficulty breathing or panting. These illnesses begin as viral infections in cats, but frequently progress to secondary bacterial infections. Antibiotics may be necessary to alleviate your cat’s condition and allow them to breathe more easily. As your cat heals, humidifiers and steam can help remove mucus and make nasal breathing easier.

  • Feline Infectious peritonitis

FIP is a viral infection caused by a feline coronavirus, which we discussed in our article on coronavirus in pets. FIP progresses swiftly, manifesting hunger loss, weight loss, sadness, and fever. Cats build fluid in their abdomens as a result of their fast growth, which also complicates regular breathing.

  • Other Situations

Cats may also pant or display heavy breathing due to anemia, neurologic problems, trauma, belly enlargement, or discomfort.

What is Hydrothorax, and could it be responsible for heavy breathing cats?

When fluid collects in the chest, Hydrothorax is a common symptom of cardiomyopathy.

  • Primary cause

The collection of fluid between the lungs and ribs is known as Hydrothorax, or fluid in the chest (pleural cavity). Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), ruptured thoracic duct, and congestive heart failure due to cardiomyopathy are the most common causes of Hydrothorax.

  • When a virus can’t be eliminated from a person’s body because of a lack of immunity, fluid builds up in the chest and belly.
  • Some fat ingested from the digestive tract is also collected by lymphatic vessels, which drain excess fluid. By way of the thoracic conduit, which connects to one of the heart’s big veins, this fluid is returned to the main circulation. Fluid leaks into the chest (called “chylothorax”) if this tube ruptures, resulting in breathing difficulties. Trauma and other unknown circumstances might lead to the duct’s rupture.
  • Congestive heart failure is a common complication of cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart. As a result of the heart’s insufficient pumping, fluid might build up in the chest and/or lungs.

How to care for heavy breathing cats?

Nothing can be done at home to help your cat who is experiencing difficulties breathing. As soon as possible, take him to the vet. Away from the vehicle:

As much as possible, try to keep stress levels down.

Use a carrier or box to transport your cat so that his respiration isn’t hampered by being handled.

How to Take Care of Your Pets until an Emergency Vet Visit?

Ensure that your cat’s airway is unobstructed. Make sure there are no things lodged in the back of the throat, and gently wipe away any nose discharge.

When a cat can’t breathe, it’s likely to be nervous and worried. Stay away from pursuing or restraining your cat when he/she is trying to flee from you (e.g., by using a harness or leash).

How to perform a Diagnosis on a cat with heavy breathing?

Identifying the root cause of your cat’s breathing difficulties is critical to establishing the best course of therapy. For the best results, your cat’s veterinarian will do a comprehensive checkup and review your pet’s medical history.

A blood draw, urine study, and/or x-rays may be ordered by your veterinarian to rule out other problems and provide a definitive diagnosis.


You may learn a great deal about your cat’s health by listening to and watching it breathe before a physical exam or test.


Finding the root of your cat’s breathing concern may be easier if you can identify their breathing sound. Your veterinarian will examine your cat’s breathing to see if it’s loud or silent and if it occurs when they inhale (inspiration) or exhale (expiration).

  • Stertor 

Somewhere between the nasal passageways and the back of one’s throat, a Stentorian blockage occurs. This may often sound like Nasal obstruction or snoring.

  • Stridor

When inhaling, the stridor sounds like a high-pitched, wheezing sound. Stridor can be caused by an obstruction in the larynx or windpipe.

  • Wheezing

This high-pitched whistling sound, caused by a constriction or blockage in the lower airways, is called wheezing.


The other way to diagnose the problems in cats is visual. It is important to keep in mind that Dyspnea in cats can have a variety of causes, and observing your cat’s breathing patterns can help your doctor narrow down the possibilities. 

An upper airway ailment is frequently characterized by difficulty in inhaling, whereas a lower airway disease may be characterized by difficulty exhaling. If your cat is having difficulties exhaling, you may notice an abdominal push.

Another possible indicator of illness is paradoxical breathing, which occurs when the chest contracts during inhalation and expands during expiration (in the opposite direction of normal movement).

Other methods for determining a cat’s respiratory issues?

Your veterinarian will do a thorough examination to determine the cause of your cat’s respiratory issues.

  • Monitor your cat’s breathing.
  • Checking the color of its gums to see whether oxygen is being carried adequately to the organs, or if there is a low red blood cell count (anemia).
  • Blood tests are often done to check for any underlying diseases.
  • Examining the heart and lungs using X-rays or ultrasounds.

You may be sent to the rear back of the clinic if your cat is struggling to breathe and has to be given oxygen before any further checks or testing are carried out.

How to treat heavy breathing cats?

Your cat will need long-term or perhaps lifelong treatment for most of the chest disorders. These disorders are known to reduce the life expectancy of cats. 

FIP is the worst, and it typically turns into a fatal problem within one to two months. To keep an eye on your cat’s health, you’ll need to get regular checkups and testing. These disorders’ long-term objective is to improve quality of life, not to find a solution.

Treatment for Breathlessness:

  • Medical care for the root cause of the problem.
  • If a cat is having a hard time breathing, they may need supplementary oxygen, which will necessitate a stay in the hospital.
  • You may be prescribed bronchodilators or steroidal anti-inflammatories to assist your cat to breathe. This drug can be taken orally or via inhalation.
  • Until the respiratory condition has considerably resolved, you should limit your cat’s physical activity.

Treatment for various ailments causing having breathing in cat.

Your heavy breathing cat’s therapy is focused on flushing fluid from the chest and keeping the fluid from returning, so that your pet may breathe comfortably. 

An incision will be made in the chest and as much fluid will be evacuated by hand as feasible. This is often tolerated by cats. 

No matter why your cats are having trouble breathing, it might be tough to keep fluid from building up in your chest again.

A variety of illnesses can be helped by the treatment described here.

  • Feline Infectious peritonitis

A cure for FIP is not possible, since the virus that causes it cannot be wiped out. There is little that can be done after the infection has taken hold. After some time, glucocorticoids (steroids) can reduce the virus’ effects, but it is inevitable that the cat will succumb to the infection.

  • A ruptured thoracic duct

It is a condition that is not usually curable, but in some cases, Both medication and surgical therapy approaches have had some success.

  • Congestive heart failure

Medications such as furosemide (a diuretic or “water pill”) and enalapril (a blood thinner) can be used to keep fluid levels under control in patients with congestive heart failure (improves heart function).

Treatment also aims to get your cat back to eating and drinking on his own. A few days in the hospital are likely to be necessary to accomplish these goals for your cat. To help him breathe, he may be put on intravenous fluids and given more injections of medicine. Depending on his condition, he may be on oxygen for the rest of his life.

How to prevent ailments from causing having breathing in cats?

This illness can be prevented with minimal effort. Taurine, an amino acid, may play a role in some instances of cardiomyopathy. Taurine is included in many commercials for cat meals, and you may also purchase supplements that do the same. A FIP vaccination is currently available, however, it should be addressed with your veterinarian before usage.

Conclusion: Heavy breathing cat

We hope this article on “Heavy breathing cats” answered all your queries.

We understand that caring for a cat with an underlying disease can be a difficult task, but your undivided attention and love with providing them with the much-needed ease that they require.

In the end, the love you have for your furball will help you go through all of it and empower you to come around happier and stronger.