Why is my Cat Breathing Fast but Otherwise Seems OK?

If you notice that your cat is breathing rapidly, you might be wondering if it’s something to be concerned about. While it’s normal for cats to take between 10 – 30 breaths per minute, rapid breathing could indicate an underlying issue. In this article, we’ll explore why your cat might be breathing fast and discuss when you should seek veterinary care for your furry friend.

Is my Cat’s Breathing Normal?

Typically, a cat’s breath should create a small rise and fall of the chest. However, if your cat’s breathing is irregular, shallow, and rapid, it may be a sign that not enough oxygen is reaching the lungs. Proper oxygenation is crucial for your cat’s health, so rapid breathing at rest should never be ignored.

Should I Take my Cat to the Emergency Vet?

Rapid breathing can be a symptom of a serious underlying condition. If your cat’s sides are moving dramatically, or if breathing is accompanied by whistling sounds or gasps, it’s important to contact your vet right away or call your nearest after-hours animal emergency hospital.

What Other Symptoms Should I Look For?

Fast breathing at rest is often a sign of an underlying illness and may be accompanied by other symptoms. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Sides, chest, and stomach moving rapidly
  • Open mouth breathing or panting
  • Lowered head with extension of neck and body forward
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Noisy breathing, such as whistling, wheezing, or groaning
  • Lack of energy or lethargy
  • Blue coloration of the gums
  • Reluctance to move, jump, or play
  • Extended periods of sleep
  • Loss of appetite
See also  The Benefits of a Raw Food Diet For Cats

Breathing difficulties are a serious concern. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, seek urgent veterinary care.

Why is my Cat Breathing So Fast?

There are several reasons why your cat may be breathing heavily or panting. Let’s explore a few possibilities:


Signs of asthma in cats include heavy breathing with an open mouth, panting, wheezing, and coughing. While asthma cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed with medications like corticosteroids or bronchodilators.


Heartworm can cause breathing difficulties in cats. Treatment involves supportive care with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and oxygen therapy in severe cases. Our vets recommend keeping your cat on a monthly heartworm preventative medication to prevent this potentially fatal condition.

Hydrothorax & Congestive Heart Failure

Hydrothorax is the accumulation of fluid in and around the lungs, leading to deep, rapid breathing, coughing, and panting. Treatment may include draining the excess fluid and administering medications to improve heart function.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections can make it difficult for cats to breathe normally, resulting in heavy breathing or panting. These infections often start as viral infections but can progress to secondary bacterial infections. Antibiotics may be necessary to aid in your cat’s recovery, along with humidifiers and steam to ease nasal breathing.

Other Conditions

In addition to the conditions mentioned above, there are several other health issues that can cause rapid breathing in cats, including trauma, tumors, anemia, pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, pneumonia, allergies, airway obstruction, pain, stress, or shock.

How Will the Vet Treat my Cat’s Breathing Issues?

To provide appropriate treatment, your vet will need to determine the underlying cause of your cat’s fast breathing. This may involve various tests such as bloodwork, urinalysis, and diagnostic imaging.

See also  The Benefits of a Raw Food Diet For Cats

The treatment for your cat’s rapid breathing will depend on the underlying cause. It may include antibiotics, oxygen therapy, antihistamines, steroids, tumor removal surgery, procedures to drain fluid from the chest, or even acupuncture.

If you’re concerned about your cat’s breathing, seeking veterinary care is essential. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition from worsening and save you money in the long run while ensuring your cat’s health.

Remember, this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional veterinary advice. To get an accurate diagnosis, make an appointment with your vet.

For more information on cat health and well-being, visit Katten TrimSalon today!