Cats are delicate looking creatures, who love living a prim and proper life. Not only do they appear delicate, they are actually quite weak and vulnerable physically as well. Cats are prone to many health problems that include digestive disorders, urinary tract infections as well as respiratory problems. You will be surprised to know, your feline friend can suffer from the same health problems seen in humans like asthma. Breathing problems in cats may mean a number of things. It can be just a seasonal allergy or an environmental pollutant giving kitty a hard time breathing. Or it could mean something as serious as asthma or heartworms. We shall discuss some of these breathing problems affecting our feline pets in the following paragraph.
Types of Breathing Problems in Cats
There are different types of breathing problems affecting cats that occur due to different causes. These types of breathing problems in felines include:
This breathing problem causes the stomach and chest to move when breathing. Dyspnea is a breathing problem that causes nostrils to flare up as well as the mouth is open, when breathing. The cat finds it very difficult to breathe and when trying to do so, its elbows stick out of the body. You will find, the cat's head and neck will be extended very low in the front of the body. The cat may have problem breathing in (inspiratory dyspnea) or breathing out (expiratory dyspnea). One may even hear stridor (noisy respiration) when the cat breaths.
Tachypnea is a problem that causes rate of breathing to become faster than normal. In this case, you will find the mouth is closed as opposed to the open mouth dyspnea.
Wheezing is a type of breathing problem that is associated with asthma in most cases. The cat may wheeze for a minute or more and then remain inactive for some time. The cat may suffer from an episode of chronic cough and wheezing. You will find the head stretched forward while the cat coughs. You may feel as if it is trying to cough up something. The cat may breath with an open mouth and sometimes may vomit after an episode.
Excessive heat, overactivity or vigorous activity may cause a cat to pant. You will find the cat breathing very fast. These breaths are usually shallow and carried out with an open mouth.
There are a number of causes that lead to respiratory problems in cats. For example, breathing problems in Persian cats, occur due to their genetic make up. They have a short muzzle that causes restriction of nasal passages. Thus, leading to convoluted nasal passages. The cat may have breathing problems in hot, humid weather or exercise. Breathing problems in older cats may occur due to pneumonia, bronchitis, heart problems and even cancer. Pneumonia is mostly caused by a bacterial infection and may even occur due to a fungal infection.
Some cats are born with congenital abnormalities that cause breathing problems. Few cats suffer from cardiomyopathies, that is, heart muscle problems that causes respiration problems. There are a few cat breeds that are genetically prone to bronchitis, asthma or allergies. Asthma is caused due to breathing in cigarette smoke, dust, pollution in air like pollen grains, dust, food allergies, etc. An infected mosquito bite may lead to heartworm disease. This causes chronic respiratory disease and even lead to death of the cat.
The symptoms of breathing problems in your pet cat may include the following:
- Nasal discharge
- Labored breathing
- Persistent or chronic Coughing
- Weight loss
- Excessive movement of the chest and abdomen during inhalation and exhalation
- Loss of appetite
Treatment of the respiratory problem in cats generally involves taking care of the underlying problem. Allergies may be treated with allergy shots for cats. Pneumonia requires treatment with antibiotics. Bronchitis and asthma are treated by corticosteroids. In case of emergency, the cat may require oxygen mask to help it breath, removal of fluid in chest as well as supportive care. You may have to spend $25 to $60 for a mild health problem. The cost may increase up to $500, in case, the cat suffers from a serious disorder.
Your cat may take a few days to up to a few months to recover. Some conditions are chronic and may persist throughout the cat's life. You should speak to your veterinarian for help, the minute you observe your cat breathing with difficulty. Breathing difficulty in cats should not be taken lightly, as it may make a difference between life and death for your feline friend.