It is common for cats to get cold and have severe respiratory problems from time to time. If your pussy is having trouble breathing, it is very important to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to determine the cause of the problem and provide the necessary treatment. Read on to learn more about common cat breathing problems and to identify when your pet needs help to breathe better.
Method 1 of 4: Identifying Upper Airway Problems
Step 1. Keep an eye out for runny nose, which is common in cats
A runny nose, usually yellow or green, may contain only mucus or a combination of mucus and pus.
- Some cats that have respiratory allergies may have a clear, fluid discharge that is difficult to identify because the animals often lick them.
- When you notice any runny nose, look closely to see if the discharge is coming from just one nostril or both. A discharge from both sides is more likely to have been caused by an infection or allergy, while a discharge from only one side may have been caused by a foreign body or an infection on one side of the muzzle.
Step 2. Watch for sneezing
Cats try to clear their nose through sneezing because, unlike humans, they are unable to blow their nose.
If you notice the cat sneezing frequently, take it to the vet to determine the cause. It is possible that it is an allergy or an infection, but some tests need to be done to confirm
Step 3. Identify the cause of nasal congestion
The main causes include rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages that produce mucus), infection (including viral conditions such as feline flu) and inhalation of foreign bodies (such as a loose leaflet that the cat may have inhaled when it was sniffing. something).
- The most common cause of nasal congestion is viral infections. The most common viruses include feline herpesvirus and feline calcivirus. The infections caused usually generate discharge in the eyes, which become swollen and red, in addition to mouth sores and excess salivation. Protect the cat from this problem by vaccinating it correctly and keeping it away from animals that look sick.
- The aforementioned conditions affect breathing due to the accumulation of mucus in the animal's nose. Like people with the flu, mucus blocks the nasal passages and makes breathing difficult.
Method 2 of 4: Identifying Lower Airway Problems
Step 1. Measure the cat's respiratory rate
The number of breaths per minute is called the respiratory rate. Normal values are around 20 to 30 breaths per minute. The number and way in which the cat breathes can indicate problems.
- It is not necessary to take the normal values to the letter. For example, a cat that breathes 32 times a minute and does not appear to have any problems is considered normal.
- Be concerned when the respiratory rate reaches 35 or 40 times a minute, or if the cat seems to be struggling to breathe.
Step 2. Keep an eye out for any breathing effort
Cats' breathing movements are subtle and barely noticeable, so there may be a problem if the cat is struggling to breathe. If the cat is panting or making exaggerated abdominal movements to inhale or exhale, take it to the vet.
- To determine if the animal is breathing normally, fix your gaze on a single point (perhaps a swirl of hair on its chest) and observe its movements.
- The cat's belly muscles should not be involved in breathing. If the belly expands and contracts as he breathes, something is wrong. If you can see breathing movements in the cat's torso or belly, take the cat to a veterinarian.
Step 3. Keep an eye on the out-of-air position
A cat with breathing difficulty may sit or lie with her elbows away from her body, with her head and neck stretched out, as if to stretch her windpipe.
When the cat assumes this position, it may open its mouth and begin to pant
Step 4. Identify signs of trouble
A cat with breathing problems may suffer from anxiety or anguish, which may be visible in her facial expression. The cat may look anxious with its mouth open in a grimace. Other signs of trouble include:
- Dilated pupils
- flat ears
- back whiskers
- aggression when someone approaches
- tail close to the body
Step 5. See if the cat is panting
Cats may pant after exercising to cool their bodies, but wheezing at rest is not normal. If your pet usually does this when resting, consult a veterinarian.
Cats also tend to gasp when they are anxious or frightened, so consider the environment in your analysis
Method 3 of 4: Caring for a Cat with Nasal Congestion
Step 1. Discuss with a veterinarian the possibility of treating the cat with antibiotics
If the animal shows signs of infection (green or yellow mucus in the nose), discuss the need for a prescription for antibiotics for the cat.
If your vet suspects a viral infection, antibiotics may not help much. After starting treatment, the drugs can take up to five days to take effect. In the meantime, you have to find some way to ease the cat's breathing
Step 2. Use steam therapy
The heat and humidity of the steam helps to soften the mucus so the cat can expel it more easily. Obviously, it's not possible to put the cat's head over a bowl of boiling water, as the cat might be frightened and put both of you at risk. Instead, opt for a steamy environment:
- Take the cat to the bathroom and close the door. Turn on the hot shower and close the shower door to create a solid barrier between the pussy and the hot water.
- Stay in the steam atmosphere for ten minutes. Try to repeat the process two to three times a day so your cat can breathe more easily.
Step 3. Keep the cat's muzzle clean
It may seem obvious to say this, but it never hurts to reinforce. If the cat's nose is congested or dirty, wipe it with a clean, damp cotton ball. Soften and remove any dry mucus that may be embedded in the muzzle.
If your cat has a heavy runny nose, regular cleaning of the snout can make it more comfortable
Step 4. Ask the veterinarian to prescribe a mucolytic drug
Sometimes the runny in the nose is so thick and sticky that it gets trapped inside the animal, making breathing impossible. In these cases, the use of a mucolytic can help you.
- These medications, like Bisolvon, break down mucus and liquefy it, making sneezing easier. The active ingredient is bromhexine.
- Bisolvon can be mixed into the cat's food once or twice a day. The recommended dose is 0.5 g for every 5 kg of the animal's body weight or a "generous pinch" once or twice in the cat's food.
Method 4 of 4: Understanding Common Feline Respiratory Problems
Step 1. Take the cat to the vet to get a diagnosis
Problems include infections, pneumonia, tumors, accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pleural effusion), and heart or lung disease. All of these conditions need to be treated by a veterinarian.
If you believe your cat has chest congestion, do not use home remedies. Delaying the visit to the vet will only make the problem worse
Step 2. Be aware that some breathing difficulties can be caused by pneumonia
Toxins from bacteria and viruses can cause inflammation and accumulation of discharge in the lungs. When this occurs, oxygen exchange slows down, making breathing more difficult.
The use of strong antibiotics is usually prescribed to treat pneumonia. If the cat is very ill, extra care may be needed, which includes intravenous fluids or an oxygen tent
Step 3. Be aware that heart disease can cause breathing problems
A diseased heart may be unable to pump blood throughout the body, causing changes in blood pressure in the lungs that can leak fluid from blood vessels into lung tissue. Like pneumonia, this condition reduces the lungs' ability to exchange oxygen, which can make the cat breathless.
If heart disease is to blame for the respiratory problem, the veterinarian must determine the cause of the problem and prescribe the correct medications. Cats usually need oxygen therapy to stabilize before receiving any medication or treatment
Step 4. Be aware that lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis can also cause breathing problems
Asthma compresses the airways, creating resistance to the movement of air in the lungs, while bronchitis tightens the airways, thickening them and blocking oxygen exchange. Asthma can mainly affect allergen-sensitive cats.
- For the treatment of asthma, your veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids, either by injection or by oral tablet. Steroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that deflate the cat's airways. Salbutamol inhalers can also be used on cats with asthma who are not bothered by masks.
- Bronchitis can be treated with steroids or with a bronchodilator, a drug that stimulates the opening of the airways.
Step 5. Consider the possibility that the problems are caused by lung worms
These parasites interfere with the cat's breathing and can go unnoticed for prolonged periods of time. A serious infection caused by them can cause a runny nose, coughing, weight loss and even pneumonia.
Lungworms can be treated with antiparasitic drugs such as ivermectin and fenbendazole
Step 6. Check that a tumor is not causing the respiratory problems
Tumors in the trunk region can compress the lungs and reduce the amount of functional lung tissue. When the availability of lung tissue is reduced, the cat may run out of air.
Tumors take up space in the animal's chest and compress the lungs or important blood vessels. As much as it is possible to perform a removal surgery, chances are the cat will never recover from the tumor. Consult your veterinarian for more information
Step 7. Know the effects of the pleural effusion that may be causing the problem
Pleural effusion is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the lungs and can occur if the cat has kidney disease or infection, or if the cat has a chest tumor with fluid leakage.
- The fluids press on the cat's lungs, causing a collapse that prevents them from expanding properly, impairing the cat's breathing.
- If the cat is having a hard time breathing, the veterinarian can drain the fluid with a chest needle and allow the lungs to fill for temporary relief. The underlying problem must be addressed so that fluids do not return.