Breathing Difficulties Average Cost

From 329 quotes ranging from $500 - 4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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What are Breathing Difficulties?

Dyspnea is often referred to as respiratory distress. Your cat may struggle with inhaling, exhaling or both. You may also notice your cat panting noisily or keeping its mouth open. Coughing is another symptom that often accompanies dyspnea. Whatever the systemic cause for labored breathing, your cat needs an immediate medical evaluation since this condition cannot be treated at home and can be deadly.

It is very disturbing to see your cat struggling to take a breath. Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition that could be caused by hundreds of diseases or medical conditions. For example, your cat may have a foreign object up its nose, or it may be experiencing allergy-induced asthma. Heart failure is another prime reason cats show signs of breathing difficulties, and this condition requires immediate veterinary evaluation.

Symptoms of Breathing Difficulties in Cats

When a cat is breathing rapidly with its mouth open, it’s obvious it’s having trouble breathing. Other symptoms of respiratory distress are more subtle but obvious to the eye and the ear. Since breathing difficulties in cats are dangerous and may rapidly become life threatening, seek immediate veterinary care if your cat is showing any of these symptoms:

  • Labored breathing
  • Panting
  • Exaggerated abdomen and chest movements
  • Crouching low to the ground with elbows out
  • Flared nostrils
  • Rapid breathing
  • Breathing with mouth agape
  • Head low to the ground
  • Noisy, raspy breathing
  • Coughing
  • Retching
  • Lethargy
  • Shaking

Causes of Breathing Difficulties in Cats

There are so many possible reasons a cat is showing respiratory distress, only a veterinarian can make the proper diagnosis. Some of the many varied reasons for breathing difficulties are:

  • Asthma
  • Airway obstruction
  • Anxiety 
  • Stress 
  • Obesity
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Shock
  • Heat stroke
  • Lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Infections
  • Blood disorders
  • Pain
  • Poison ingestion
  • Pneumonia
  • Cancer
  • Hyperthyroidism

Diagnosis of Breathing Difficulties in Cats

Most likely, the first thing your veterinarian will do is ask you questions about when the breathing issues started, the symptoms you witnessed and what preceded the respiratory distress. If your cat is having serious difficulties breathing, your veterinarian will administer oxygen before testing begins. Your veterinarian may perform some or all of the following tests:

Physical Examination: Your cat’s general health will be determined by taking vital signs and examining its ears, eyes, nose and gums. Your cat’s lungs and chest will be listened to with a stethoscope to determine if there is fluid in the lungs or an abnormal heartbeat. The veterinarian may palpate the abdominal area also.

Blood Tests: Blood may be drawn to test the oxygen and carbon dioxide level in your cat’s blood and to check for heartworm disease. Other blood tests will show inflammation and or infections present.

Urine Sample: A urine test will aid in diagnosing the cause of the dyspnea.

X-rays and Ultrasound: These diagnostic tests help the veterinarian to virtually see inside your cat’s body to check for tumors, obstructions or fluid buildup.

Fluid aspiration: A sample of chest, lung and abdominal fluid may be drawn for evaluation and testing.

ECG: An ECG (electrocardiogram) test may be required if your veterinarian suspects a heart problem.

Endoscopy: If the breathing problem is caused by a blocked nasal cavity or airway, this test will help determine the next step in treatment, and it may aid in collecting tissue samples for testing.

Treatment of Breathing Difficulties in Cats

Depending on the reason for your cat’s dyspnea, treatment may be as simple as prescribing an antibiotic to more serious actions such as surgery or hospitalization with oxygen and IV therapy. 

Respiratory infection: Antibiotics are usually prescribed to fight the infection and aid in breathing.

Foreign object: If tests show a foreign object is obstructing the nasal passage, it may be removed in the office with surgical tweezers. 

Asthma: Steroids and bronchodilators are two of the medicines that may be prescribed to help your cat breathe easier.

Heat stroke: Your veterinarian will lower your cat’s body temperature and, if necessary, provide oxygen.

Dehydration: Your cat will be given an IV to increase fluids to a normal level.

Fluid in lungs, chest or abdomen: Fluid may be aspirated to relieve your cat’s distress.

Tumors and cancer: Surgery may be required to remove the growth along with oral or injectable medicines.

Recovery of Breathing Difficulties in Cats

In many cases, medicines and rest will aid in the recovery of your cat’s breathing problems. If veterinary care is administered quickly, heatstroke and dehydration are normally easy to treat and recovery is often rapid. If stress and anxiety are causing your cat to exhibit breathing difficulties, it’s imperative you find the cause of this distress and eliminate it if possible. If allergies are at the root of your cat’s dyspnea, your veterinarian will make suggestions on the best diet or bedding, and those changes will aid in your cat’s recovery.

If your cat has a serious diagnosis like cancer, surgery may require a prolonged hospital stay before it can be released from care. Other medical treatments like chemotherapy may be needed over an extended time. Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments with your veterinarian to ensure a speedy and total recovery and to avoid a recurrence of your cat’s medical emergency.

Breathing Difficulties Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Karma
domestic short hair
5 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty
Gagging
Slight Lethargy

Karma has been coughing and retching lately, and her breathing is strange. She can't meow correctly (it's hoarse or it doesnt come out at all when she tries), and she seems tired more often than a week ago. Other than sleeping more, she seems to be normal; shes still eating the same so there's no change in appetite, but I'm still really worried. Do you know what's wrong?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2478 Recommendations
There are a few possible causes which it may be including infections, thyroid enlargement, foreign objects (hairs etc…) among other causes; without examining Karma it is not possible for me to diagnose the specific cause. Since her breathing is affected, you should visit your Veterinarian as soon as possible preferably before the weekend to determine the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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sheena
domestic short hair
14 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty

We have a 14 year old female orange tabby. She is healthy but she's been snoring and/or breathing heavy while asleep for about the past year. But it's not loud or 100% of the time. She is very tolerant but today I was tending to her fur and she hissed. But right after the hiss and lying on her stomach she couldn't catch her breath(5-10 seconds). I sat her up and it stopped. After about 10 minutes, I had her on my lap where she was enjoying the petting and she was purring but had one short labored breath. Any thoughts? Thank you.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Common reasons for what you describe include heart disease, lung disease, heartworms, and bacterial or fungal infection, or allergic disease. It would be best to have Sheena examined by a veterinarian, as they can examine her, recommend any testing that she may need, and treat her for this condition.

Thank you Doctor. Vet could not establish a reason for her episode. Physical exam by vet found her in good health (clear lungs, good heart beat, good teeth, etc.) and said it was possibly a panic attack because I was doing something to her she didn't like. Her blood came back normal except for a slightly elevated 11.4 level of calcium. Her white blood count is at low normal of 3.9. After fasting tonight, we will bring her back for ionized calcium blood work. I am thinking positive. After all, it's National Pet Day today.

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Nicky
Medium hair,black
7 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing, labored breathing

My cat is coughing and seems to breath from the bottom end of his torso. The first time he had an episode the doctor could not find anything. For 6 months he had light symptoms. A month ago he had a severe episode and I took him to emergency. They treated him with a broad spectrum of medications: four medications: prednisolol, veraflox panacur and another one i can't remember its name. At end of it we followed up with regular vet and he was extended on veraflox and the other med. We stopped the prednisolol and the lung worm medication. He is still on veraflox as we speak. Yesterday he started to cough again and and it seems he is overusing his abdominal muscles to breath. Otherwise he eats well, drinks and is calm and his normal self. I am making bath bombs from time to time in my kitchen, using baking soda, citric acid and essential oils. I was taking inventory of everything I might be doing to unknowingly cause such distress to my little cat. I can't think of anything else out of ordinary in my house. Please advise how to help him

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Unfortunately, without seeing Nicky, or knowing anything about his x-rays, I'm not sure that I can comment on how to help him. It seems that your veterinarian is doing everything that can for him at this, point, although I'm not sure that x-rays have been done, and that would be a good idea if not. His problem may be heart or lung related, or caused by a systemic disease. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to see what more can be done. In the meantime, some brands of essential oils can cause respiratory problems in cats, and it may be a good idea to stop using those.

Thank you for the prompt answer. I have an appointment tonight. X-rays were done and I was told they show abnormal lung image. It is a little (a lot) worrisome, since it seems he does ok for a few days than goes back to coughing and all came up suddenly last summer. Thank you again for your answer.

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Ziva
Not sure
8 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Heavy Breathing

I just got a brand new cat. She is 8 years old. She seems to be breathing thru her nose very heavily like she has a cold. I asked her previous owners (it was through a adoption center and they fostered her through Hope), if she had a cold they said it was normal but it still is bothering me because she hasn't stopped breathing this way. She's not panting just making a wheezing sound when she's breathing thru her nose.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Without seeing Ziva, it is difficult for me to comment on what might be going on with her, and whether it is anything to worry about - it may be a bacterial or viral infection, or an anatomic abnormality that is normal for her. It would be a good idea to have a basic exam with a veterinarian, as they will be able to look at her, evaluate her, and determine if the breathing is anything to be worried about.

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Luna
mixed breed calico
18 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Rapid breathing

Medication Used

1 unit insulin x2 daily

My cat is breathing about 40x a minute when awake and moving around. She's diabetic, 18, and probably arthritic, though we've never had that officially diagnosed. Otherwise, she has been sleeping maybe 18 hours a day or more, and sometimes is just staring off at nothing. But, she grooms herself, uses the cat box with no vocalization or increased frequency, drinks and eats normally, and jumps on the bed and wants to snuggle at night. Playing was never something she really did, she was indoor/outdoor many years, but she will still want to go outside to sniff and roll in the dirt in the morning. She has been to the vet recently to have her blood sugar levels tested, and her scores were good, as they have been for the past few visits. Our vet keeps saying she is in good health, but doesn't have anything to say about her breathing, which seems to have been more rapid and with moving abdominal muscles for at about 6 months. About a year and a half ago though, our vet did not catch that our other diabetic cat had gone into kidney failure, and he was put down in a lot of pain. Because of this, I worry our vet is overlooking something, and whether I should urge my family to get a second opinion. They don't think about it because she gets very stressed in the car and is easily upset. She technically isn't owned by me, but is ultimately my cat and closest to me. Should we seek a second opinion? I just worry about making sure she isn't in pain or suffering...

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2478 Recommendations
The top end of the reference range for respiratory rates in cats varies between textbooks, but some sources put respiratory rate as high as forty per minute although we would expect this to be less in an older cat. Without examining Luna I cannot say whether you should be concerned or not, but if you are having doubts or second thoughts you should visit another Veterinarian for a second opinion even if it is to put your mind at rest. An increase in respiratory rate may be due to a variety of different causes including pain. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.merckvetmanual.com/appendixes/reference-guides/resting-respiratory-rates

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Chevie
Tiger Calico
2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

dilated pupils
Panting
Loss of Appetite
Coughing

Ok, we have notice our cat coughing, but she hasn't been coughing in the last 24 hrs. Sticking her tongue out and panting. I can hear some wheezing sounds when I listen to her breathing. Noticed the hotter it is the worst the symptoms.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. The signs that you describe, open mouth breathing, dilated pupils, and wheezing, could indicate significant respiratory or cardiovasular disease, and it would be best to have Chevie examined as soon as possible by a veterinarian to assess her lungs and heart, and determine what treatment she may need. Respiratory disease is always something to pay attention to quickly.

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SHUSHI
Mixed breed
10 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

gurguling
Asthma attacks
Wheezing

Hi Pearl, my cat was diagnosed with spleen cancer with metastasis in the lungs based only on ultrasound. The x-rays two of them and blood test didn't show anything abnormal. My cat has asthma attacks and sometimes Breathing heavily and making pigeon like sounds or gurgling. Sometimes vomitingwhich is not exactly vomiting but the other kind that veterinarians recognized as sudden puke I forgot the name sounds like Refrigeration. I am concerned that diagnosis is not correct because sometimes she's fine and still eating. What should I do?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If you are not sure that Shushi has been diagnosed correctly, you have a couple of options - you can talk with your veterinarian about your concerns, and see if they can provide a clearer picture for your of what they think is going on, or you can seek a second opinion from a different veterinarian, as they will be able to assess her with a new set of eyes and background. I hope that everything goes well for her.

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Tinker
American Shorthair
6 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Loud Breathing

My cat has this loud breathing for a couple months now. When she breathes she out, she has this loud noise. I have been worrying since then. When she sleeps, I am not sure if she snores and purr at the same time cause she never done it before. I think her loud breathing has been more prominent since I first heard it. I brought her to the vet as soon as I notice her breathing, for a physical, but she was given clean bill of health then.

Her level of activity is fine, her eating is fine, she has been pooping and peeing jus fine. But I have been worried because of her breathing. When I listened to her breathing with my ear near to her belly when she’s sleeping, it’s like her fourth breathed was a little gasp-Ish
I am planning to go to the vet again soon, but I want to know if this is nothing or this is something to look out for. I have videos and recordings of her breathing.
Also is it normal for a cat to snore?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2478 Recommendations
Sometimes animals snore, it depends on the position of their head, length of soft palate, airway constriction among other factors; you should keep an eye on Tinker to see if there is a certain position where the noise is louder and whether there is a position where there is no noise at all. If Tinker otherwise has a clean bill of health, I wouldn’t be too concerned unless there is clear respiratory distress whilst sleeping. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Tinker
tabby
13 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Breathing Difficulties
bad breath

Medication Used

Steroid

Hi. My cat has recently developed two big lumps on either side of his face, just under his throat. There are smaller ones growing. I took him to the vet and they tested for cancer but the results were inconclusive. He also has a growth that does look like a tumour on the bridge of his mouth. The problem is is that he is still behaving normally and even enjoys the lumps being rubbed vigorously, and especially around his ear. I am reluctant to take him back to the same vet because they were keen to treat him for cancer and not interested in testing for other factors. I can tell you a change that occurred in the last few days - he has begun to breathe loudly and sleeps with his mouth open. Is there anything that you can suggest other than cancer? He is still quite active, very affectionate and is constantly eating, although it is more difficult for him. A few weeks before the first lump appeared he did seem to be in pain and tilting his head to the side. It made me think that it may have been his tooth but the vet said his teeth were very healthy. I am so distressed not knowing what else to have him tested for and I am stuck with this vet as they are concessionary and I am not working at this moment. Please help!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Tinker is having this problem. Without seeing him, I'm not sure that I can shed much light on what might be going on, but unfortunately as we age, cancer does move higher up the list of possibilities when things happen. If the masses under his jaw are his lymph nodes, and if he has a mass in his mouth, the probability of cancer is quite high. There is a possibility that it may be an infection and might respond to antibiotic therapy, but I am not sure, without seeing him. I hope that he continues to stay comfortable.

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Rings
American Wirehair
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty
Tired
Quiet
Lethargic

My cat Rings, was given to us through a friends, friend. She settled in well and has been eating and drinking great but we noticed when she was breathing that her chest inflated and deflated rather quickly. As time as gone on, she hadn’t shown any difficulties and has been playing around and being her normal self. However, in the past few days, her breathing has become shortened and she seems to be panting. I’m becoming increasingly worried because even though she’s eating and drinking, she seems to be in some stress. Please help

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, without examining Rings, I can't comment on what might be going on with her. It would be best if she were seen by a veterinarian, and they can examine her, assess her breathing problems, and suggest a treatment for her. At 13, she could have an number of things, including a bacterial or fungal infection heart disease, or cancer. It would be best to have her examined.

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Chim-Chim
traditional persian
15-16
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Tired
Tires Easily

How do you cure dyspnea? because my cat has it and i am very worried it has asthma or something along those lines.
The cat has many shortness of breath we just found her outside with pine needles stuck in her tail and she was all dirty and we took her in and cared for her we technically saved her.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2478 Recommendations
Dyspnea isn’t a disease or condition, it is a symptom of another condition; it is important to evaluate the breathing issues with other symptoms to determine the underlying cause. Heart disease, infections, foreign objects among other conditions may be causing the breathing difficulties; given Chim-Chim’s age it would be advisable to have a Veterinarian check her over. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Julian from Eugene, Oregon. I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. My COPD got significantly worse and unbearable because of my difficulty catching breath. Last year, i started on a natural COPD Herbal therapy from NewLife Herbal Clinic, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I breath very much better now, no case of shortness of breath or chest tightness since treatment, my lungs condition is totally reversed. Visit NewLife Herbal Clinic website ww w. newlifeherbalclinic. com. This treatment is a miracle!!

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Po
Maine Coon
5 months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My 5 month old kitten had become more lethargic and has been breathing very heavy in the last two weeks. We took him to the vet and she thought he might have strained something. Then the next day he was much worse. He has a rancid smell coming from his mouth and nose. He hasn't eaten in two days and he is showing signs of having a very very hard time breathing. Any pressure on his chest and he starts wheezing and squeaking. We are going to take him in tomorrow but, is there anything to do to ease his uncomfort?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2478 Recommendations
There really isn’t anything that you can do to ease Po’s discomfort at this time, the rancid smell from the mouth may be indicative of kidney disease or something else concerning which would require your Veterinarian’s attention. Just ensure that he is rested and isn’t being stressed by anything; access to water is also important but if he is struggling to breathe or it seems like he isn’t getting an adequate amount of oxygen you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Blackbear
House cat, i guess.
Around a year or less.
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Need for solitude
Lazyness
Coldness
Heavy Breathing

My cats been having slow, shallow breathes lately. I found him in the bathroom on a chair this morning, he was laying down but he looked uncomfortable. I got out the cat laser thing to see if that would cheer him up but he don't really care for it, he barely noticed. Hes a bit colder too I think. I don't think anything happened, he just suddenly got sick. I'm really worried about him, and my mother is refusing to take him to a hospital because it'll be too expensive.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2478 Recommendations
It is important to see if your cat really cold by checking her temperature which should be around 100.5ºF or higher, if it is lower you should visit a Veterinarian regardless of cost. There are many conditions which may be causing low body temperature, lethargy and breathing difficulties which may include internal disease, poisoning, environmental temperature among other conditions; without examining Blackbear I cannot say what the specific cause is. Try to keep Blackbear warm and encourage eating and drinking, but you should visit your Veterinarian to determine the cause and direct treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Julian from Eugene, Oregon. I was diagnosed of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2012 at the age of 63. My COPD got significantly worse and unbearable because of my difficulty catching breath. Last year, i started on a natural COPD Herbal therapy from NewLife Herbal Clinic, i read a lot of positive reviews from patients who used the treatment and i immediately started on it. I had great relief with this herbal treatment. I breath very much better now, no case of shortness of breath or chest tightness since treatment, my lungs condition is totally reversed. Visit NewLife Herbal Clinic website ww w. newlifeherbalclinic. com. This treatment is a miracle!!

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