January 22, 2022

Why is my cat breathing fast?

sad cat

If heavy breathing of dogs is usually normal – this is the way they cool down, the cats breathe in a calm way in particular when they feel safe and comfortable. Panting is not typical of these pets but sometimes it happens. Fast breathing shows that your cat has difficulties with getting enough oxygen into its lungs. If you neglect this behavior, the cat may have heavy consequences including a fatal result.

If you wonder: “Why is my cat breathing fast?”, you are recommended to read this article where we’ll offer vets’ explanation of the reasons for this abnormal condition.


Breathing Patterns

For you to know the normal breathing rate for cats is equal to about 25 breaths per minute. To find out the respiratory rate you should count moves of your cat’s chest during a minute. If you want to know its heart rate, feel over the left side near its front leg. It can be not easy to keep a cat laying down calm during a minute. In this case you can count beats during a quarter of an hour and then the performance you get should be quadruplicated. The normal result should be between 140 and 220 bpm. If a cat is relaxed, the result will be close to a lower metrics. So, if you have found out that your cat is breathing rapidly, you should turn to a vet and ask: Why is my cat panting? We are going to list probable reasons below.

surprised cat

But first let’s say a couple of words about situations when panting in cats is normal. It may be a result of its exercises. Just try to track its behavior before a cat starts breathing rapidly. If it is running a lot, overheated or stressed, it can experience some panting, which will disappear when a cat comes back to normal, calming down and cooling down. Still, this is not a frequent response of cats to the mentioned factors but it can be on an individual basis. If it happens regularly, you’d better visit your veterinarian.

Reasons for Rapid Breathing

Mostly panting is a sign of medical conditions requiring veterinarian’s help. So why is the cat breathing fast? It may suffer:

·           Tachypnea. Here you will notice loss of appetite, lack of energy in addition to quick shallow breaths. The cat may cough and wheeze. Its gums may grow blue.

·           Dyspnea. The cat breathes fast with a loud noise. Its nostrils flare. It will extend its neck holding its head low. The pet may refuse eating.

·           Panting. You will see your cat breathing with mouth open. The breaths are rapid and shallow.

cat looks

·           Asthma. This disease comes with wheezing and coughing. If you check the respiratory rate, you will find it has increased compared with the normal scale. You can treat Asthma with prescribed medications (corticosteroid, for instance).

·           Heartworm. A cat is not a frequent host of heartworms, but still it can get them and this disease can be fatal. The most common signs are rapid, difficult breathing and coughing. Treatment includes drugs. Sometimes oxygen therapy may be recommended.

·           Cold, pneumonia, and other respiratory infections. These diseases are viral so a cat can catch them even communicating with an infected person. The veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection develops. It is better to use humidifiers in the room where the cat is kept to make breathing easier.

·           Pain. When a cat feels pain, it can start breathing quickly. If you do not see the source of that pain, you should get a professional consultation to reveal medical conditions causing pain. Be ready to run tests.

·           Anxiety. If a cat gets nervous, it can suffer panting. Being focused on surroundings, a cat can get scared with some noise or action, jump suddenly, and breathe quickly but in this case rapid breathing will be balanced in a couple of minutes.

Also, you should not forget about allergic reactions, injuries of the nose, and foreign objects.

cat at the doctor
Close up shot of veterinarian making a checkup of a cute beautiful cat

When you go to a vet, you will be asked about the symptoms, history and suggested to conduct numerous tests. First of all, the cat will be observed. The vet evaluates its gum color. Then you will have to make blood tests to find out whether the reason is a parasitic infection. Urinalysis will help to find out the state of the kidneys and bladder. The X-rays will allow finding foreign objects or tumors if there are. And this is not a complete list.


If there are other symptoms in addition to rapidly breathing for no clear reason, treatment may be quite complicated. As far as cats usually hide their illnesses, you may detect them when it becomes harder to treat. The rapid breathing may be an indication that is why do not postpone a visit to a vet. It is much better to cope with the problem at the beginning, before it progresses into a serious disease. Most conditions are easily treated with medication which can be taken for a long time or for a short period like strong antibiotics. Sometimes, when the life-threatening disorders are determined, there may be a need to leave a pet in the animal hospital to render medical assistance 24/7, for instance to administer oxygen. Sometimes you will be lucky and your cat will recover, but there are conditions when treatment just slows down the process.

If nothing is wrong with a cat’s health, panting may be provoked by stress. It would be nice to understand the reasons for that anxiety to remove an irritating or frightening factor. Anyway, you should maintain your pet well to make it feel secure and relaxed. Provide its own space, tasty and healthy food.

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January 22, 2022

One Comment on “Why is my cat breathing fast?

[…] Your cat is not having a heart attack or a serious illness – it’s just breathing rapidly. There are a number of possible causes for this condition, and each requires different management strategies and investigations. Here are some of the more common causes of fast breathing in cats. Heat and emotional discomfort may also cause your cat to breathe fast. Regardless of the reason, make sure your cat is provided with water and access to the litter box to prevent dehydration. If your cat doesn’t appear to be suffering from these conditions, visit your veterinarian right away.More information here: […]


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