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Heavy Breathing in Cats

While it is common to see a dog panting, this behavior is much less common in cats and can indicate an underlying health condition. Today, our Bonita Springs vets discuss why your cat might be panting or breathing heavily, and when to seek emergency care for your pet.

Heavy Breathing in Cats

If your cat is experiencing heavy breathing, it could indicate a serious health problem that requires prompt veterinary care. 

If you notice that your cat is panting or exhibiting labored breathing, start by assessing the situation based on the criteria below. If you are at all concerned with your cat breathing heavily or they are displaying any other symptoms, it's best to be on the safe side and bring them in for emergency veterinary care right away. 

Normal Panting in Cats

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 the panting.

As with dogs, cats may pant when they are overheated, anxious, or following strenuous exercise. Panting for these reasons should resolve itself once the cat has had an opportunity to calm down, cool down or rest.

However, it's important to note that this sort of panting is much rarer 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 veterinarian.

Causes of Heavy Breathing in Cats:

Here are a few of the underlying conditions that could be causing your cat to breathe heavily:

Asthma

  • Some of the most common symptoms of asthma in cats include 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

  • Heartworm in cats can cause breathing difficulties. Treatment for heartworm includes supportive care with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and oxygen therapy in more serious cases. When it comes to heartworm, prevention is the best protection. Heartworm disease can be fatal so it is important to keep your cat on a monthly heartworm preventative medication.

Hydrothorax & Congestive Heart Failure

  • Hydrothorax is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid in and around the lungs, it 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.

Respiratory Infections

  • If your kitty has developed a respiratory infection it can be challenging for them to breathe normally. Respiratory infections in cats can lead to labored 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 Conditions

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

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.

At Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists, we offer 24/7 emergency care. If you are concerned with your cat's breathing please contact our Bonita Springs vets right away or bring your cat in. 

Our 24/7 Emergency Care in Bonita Springs 

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