Diagnosis of rapid breathing in your cat will require your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause. This will involve diagnostic tests that may not seem related to breathing, such as blood work, urinalysis and other extensive systemic exams. Given the lengthy list of potential conditions, it will be important for you to provide your veterinarian with a thorough physical and medical history of your cat. If your cat is allowed outdoors, has recently suffered from a traumatic injury, or could potentially have fallen from a high surface, this will be important information to help identify potential trauma or pain. You should also provide your vet with a history of progression of symptoms such as approximate time of onset and any worsening or improvement. This will help your veterinarian narrow down potential causes.

I've adopted a cat that was dumped under our hedge. She is very skinny but is gaining weight in the week I've had her. She drinks about half a cup of water daily and breathes very rapidly even when resting. Is it normal for a cat that had been so skinny and is now gaining weight to have such rapid breathing? I'm concerned having been so starved her organs may have been affected, she is quite young. Otherwise she appears very content, alert and relaxed. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
An increase in respiratory rate may be an indicator of pain especially if she is limping; without examining Isabella I cannot say whether this is due to pain or another cause (infection, heart disease etc…). I would restrict Isabella’s movements and monitor her for the time being but if it continues or the respiratory rate is above 40 breaths per minute you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My cat, Halia, is breathing heavily. However, she has mammary tumours which had reoccurred after prior removal of earlier tumours. On her second visit for the new tumours, it was found that the growth has spread to her lungs. The vets told me that any course of treatment at this stage will not be advisable or productive given that her tumours returned after only 2 months, and they are spreading very aggressively.
There are various different causes for rapid breathing which may include infections, pain, heart disorders, dehydration among other causes; a cat’s respiration should be below 30 breaths per minute when at rest but if it is significantly above this rate at rest I would suggest visiting your Veterinarian for an examination to determine a cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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