While panting is common for dogs, panting or heavy breathing in cats is rare. In fact, if your cat is breathing heavily it could be a sign of an underlying health concern. Here, our Norristown vets share a few of the reasons why cats may breathe heavily or pant, and when it's time to head to the vet.
Heavy Breathing Cat
Since cats don't usually pant, heavy breathing can be an indication of a serious health concern that requires prompt veterinary care.
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.
Times When Heavy Breathing is Normal for Cats
While uncommon, in some cases, panting is normal behavior for cats. 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 heavily 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 mentioned previously, panting and heavy breathing are much less common in our feline friends than it is in dogs. So if you're not entirely sure why your cat is panting, it’s worth a visit to your vet.
Possible Causes of Heavy Breathing in Cats:
Our Norristown vets often hear from concerned pet parents wondering, "why is my cat breathing heavily?". Below are just a few of the reasons why your cat may be panting or breathing heavily.
- Common signs of asthma in cats include heavy breathing with mouth open, panting, wheezing, coughing, and increased respiratory rate. While asthma in cats may not be cured, it can be successfully managed with corticosteroids or bronchodilators.
- In cats, a heartworm can cause breathing problems. Heartworm treatment includes supportive care with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and, in more severe cases, oxygen therapy. Because heartworm disease is extremely serious and can be fatal, our veterinarians recommend that you keep your cat on a monthly heartworm preventative medication.
Hydrothorax & Congestive Heart Failure
- Hydrothorax is a condition in which fluid accumulates in and around the lungs, causing deep, rapid breathing, coughing, and panting. Treatment may include draining the fluid as well as medications to dilate blood vessels, eliminate excess fluid, and force the heart to contract more strongly.
- 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 it can breathe easier. Humidifiers and steam can help loosen mucus and make nasal breathing easier as your cat recovers.
- Dyspnea in cats is characterized by significant difficulty inhaling and exhaling, also known as respiratory distress. This is sometimes manifested by panting and heavy breathing. Dyspnea is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of many different diseases.
Other Conditions Which Can Lead To Cats Breathing Heavy
- Anemia, neurologic disorders, trauma, abdominal enlargement, and pain can also cause cats to pant or exhibit heavy breathing.
Caring For Your Cat's Long-Term Health
If you are concerned about your cat's breathing veterinary care is important. After all, when it comes to your cat's health it's always better to err on the side of caution.
It's also important to remember that treatment is most effective when a condition is detected early before it becomes a more serious health issue. Early treatment may save you money in the long run while also protecting 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.