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


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


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