What are the Possible Causes of Your Catโ€™s Breathing Troubles?


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The respiratory system is comprised of many parts, including the throat, nose, the lungs and the windpipe. Air enters the nose and is carried to the lungs by a process referred to as inspiration. Once it reaches the lungs, the oxygen is transferred to the RBCs (red blood cells). The RBCs then carry oxygen to the other organs in the body.When oxygen is transferred to the RBCs, carbon dioxide is transferred from the cells back to the lungs. It is expelled through the nose in a process called expiration. This cycle of breathing is controlled by the chest nerves and the respiratory centers located in the brain. Diseases that affect the brainโ€™s respiratory center or the respiratory system can bring about a lot of breathing difficulties. Labored or troubled breathing is referred to as dyspnea, and rapid, excessive breathing is referred to as tachypnea (or polypnea).Breathing difficulties can affect cats irrespective of their age or breed, and the problem can end up being life threatening. If your cat is having breathing problems, he should be taken to a vet as soon as possible.

  • Dyspneao The chest and belly move when breathingo The nostrils may flare open when your cat is breathingo Breathing with the mouth openo Breathing with elbows that stick out from the bodyo Head and neck are held out and low in fronto Inspiratory dyspnea (problem while breathing in)o Expiratory dyspnea (problem while breathing out)o Noisy breathing
  • Fast breathingo The breathing rate is much faster than normalo The mouth is closed usually
  • Pantingo Shallow breathso Fast breathingo Open mouth

Depending on the main problem, coughing is also one of the observable signs of breathing difficulty.

  • Nasal diseaseso Small nostrilso Bacterial or viral infectiono Bleedingo Tumors
  • Diseases of the upper windpipe and the throato The mouthโ€™s roof is longo Tumorso Foreign object lodged in the throat
  • Diseases of the lower windpipe and the lungso Bacterial or viral infectiono Heart failure secondary to pulmonary edemao Enlarged hearto Heartworm infectiono Tumorso Bleeding into the lungs
  • Diseases of the lungsโ€™ small airways (bronchioles and bronchi)o Bacterial or viral infectiono Allergieso Tumorso Asthma
  • Diseases of the pleural space (the space in the chest around the lungs)o Fluid due to heart failureo Pneumothorax (air in the chest)o Hemothorax (blood in the chest)o Tumors
  • Chest wall problemso Injury to the wall of the chest (trauma)o Toxins from a tick bite can paralyze the chest wallo Botulism toxins can paralyze the chest
  • Diseases that can affect the bellyo Enlarged livero Bloated stomach (filled with air)o Fluid collecting in the belly
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood
  • Low RBC count
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary edema secondary to heart failure
  • Pleural effusion
  • Tumor
  • Bleeding into the lungs
  • Medications
  • Pain
  • High Fever
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