Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Breathing difficulty

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

If you notice that your cat is having any breathing difficulty call us immediately on 6251 1444. Cats hide chest problems until they are verging on life threatening so do not hesitate to make it an emergency.

A cat is having breathing difficulty if she is mouth breathing, and/ or crouched down with elbows out. A blue tongue with laboured or noisy breathing is very serious. Some cats will stick their tongues out in an effort to open up the airways even more.

The cat in the picture is concentrating on getting a breath. He has his elbows out and his mouth is open (although we can't quite see it). His pupils are also widely dilated as he is very worried.

Some chest diseases like asthma, some cancers or pneumonia cause a cough. Others cause a buildup in fluid around the lungs making it difficult for the cat to expand the lungs and get a good breath.

It is vital to keep the cat as calm as possible on the way to the vet and to let the vet know that you are coming so that we have oxygen ready. Keep handling to a minimum and speak gently and reassure your cat as much as possible. Cats with breathing difficulty often get worse when stressed - but will die if not treated.

Young cats are prone to pyothorax and Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which cause a buildup of pus and fluid in the chest cavity. Older cats are more likely to have heart disease or lymphoma cause a build up of fluid in the chest cavity. The fluid must be drained to relieve the breathing difficulty and then treatment targeted at the underlying disease.

Diseases of the nose, mouth, throat and sinuses sometimes cause noisy or open mouth breathing but the cat is not usually unduly distressed by it and will happily eat and run around despite the snuffles and sneezes. However, if you are in any doubt please phone and clarify the situation.

The cat is this video has pyothorax and is having a lot of trouble breathing.

The cat in the next video is not so distressed - but is breathing rapidly and heavily and could become as distressed as the last cat if stressed.

Search Blog

Recent Posts


weight control not eating dymadon annual check hunters blood in urine mouth breathing visit bladder snakebite panleukopaenia grass aggressive appointment straining hospital catoberfest signs of pain cortisone best veterinarian renal disease vaccination scratching post christmas thirsty spey dry food pet meat wet food paracetamol pain relief revolution urinating outside litter decision to euthanase poisonous urinating on curtains or carpet client night water sick antiviral best clinic litter box joints cryptococcosis house call paralysis dehydration heaing introduction appetite hungry diarrhoea cough breeder old cat ribbon headache open night obese sucking wool fabric hypertrophic cardiomyopathy feline AIDS wet litter bed dental check desex noisy breathing lame advantage herpesvirus scale arthritis spraying itchy sensitive stomach RSPCA socialisation hunched over introduce pet kitten deaths off food exercise cancer mince tapeworm panadol fever dental touch body language plants ulcerated nose on heat goodbye cystitis kidneys rolls obesity aerokat biopsy drinking a lot hunter calicivirus lilly training eye ulcer massage worms marking petting cat pred computer Canberra poisons stiff unsociable furball worming rigid head jumping crytococcosus xylitol roundworm pica carrier cat worms echocardiography stress senses scratch dental treatment cat enclosures competition Hill's Metabolic nails ulcers depomedrol runny eyes new cat cat containment lilies sensitive examination teeth urination hiding high blood pressure head bladder stones rub thirst skinny fits slow cat behaviour discount gifts paralysis tick vet visit snakes insulin prednisolone heart disease twitching weight AIDS breathing difficult pain killer enclosure diuretics corneal ulcer fight cat flu old cat enclosure FORLS information night panleukopenia skin blood test desexing vomit diabetes holes radioactive iodine snake bite snake tick aspirin whiskers pheromone sun cranky sense of smell microchip vomiting home visit antibiotics urine spraying moving seizures sneeze cognitive dysfunction activity odour poisoning cat fight ACT fear furballs pill food puzzles strange behaviour tablet mental health of cats wobbles Canberra Cat Vet blindness opening hours kitten dementia enemies attack vaccine cat plaque check-up when to go to vet tooth hunting stare into space eyes blind permethrin abscess holidays mass paralysed hearing free bad breath hyperactive unwell nose scabs blood pressure hole cat history castration feline enteritis snuffle cage cat friendly holes in teeth tartar thiamine deficiency eye outdoor cat feline herpesvirus open day asthma euthanasia sore eyes anxiety comfortis blue hyperthyroidism introductions blood conflict kitten play fat pancreatitis litter best cat clinic home intestine FIV love lick hard faeces cta fight return home snuffles tradesmen IBD aggression bump photo competition blockage kidney disease allergy painful fluid pills rash New Year's Eve new kitten poison meows a lot spray behaviour restless ulcer collapse tumour holiday hypertension weight loss heavy breathing rough play inflammatory bowel disease African wild cat pet insurance health check fireworks bite scratching eye infection behaviour change toxic wool toxins lily kittens brown snake mycoplasma chlamydia urine anaemia yowling flu senior thyroid award kidney overweight constipation indoor cats string sore ears face rub salivation kibble liver polish sick cat allergy, lump grooming checkup abscess,cat fight physical activity sore train virus sudden blindness panadeine best vet birthday gasping in season hairball skin cancer prey pain flea prevention enteritis urinating introducing diet drinking more snot panamax change blocked cat adipokines groom runny nose new year cat vet vision flea treatment dilated pupils fleas foreign body vocal poisonous plants lymphoma learning changed feliway


A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

Get Directions