When a cat is breathing properly, it should be silent and done with ease. Any breathing that is louder, congested, quicker, or more difficult might be a symptom of various medical disorders, including asthma.
Most feline owners are familiar with the hacking sound that their cat makes just before dropping a furball on the living room carpet. On the other hand, Cats can make similar sounds for various reasons, such as wheezing due to a respiratory illness. It might be tough to determine whether or not there is a reason to be concerned.
What Is Noisy Breathing?
The term “noisy breathing” refers to exactly what it sounds like. Instead of taking deep, calm breaths, your cat will exhale and inhale loudly, making an audible noise with each breath. There are two basic forms of loud breathing that you could hear, distinguished by whether they occur on the inhale or the exhale. Following is a description of what they are:
- Noisy Inhalation: Also known as stertor in scientific circles, a cat that breathes loudly on the inhalation generally emits a low-pitched congested noise when doing so. Snoring or deep purring can occasionally be heard, and a blockage typically causes it in the nasal passages or upper neck.
- Noisy Exhalation: When the noise takes place on the exhale, this is known as stridor. Rather than your cat snoring, this is frequently a higher-pitched noise caused by a blockage of the larynx or windpipe, which is more difficult to detect.
In both circumstances, the air that your cat is inhaling is having difficulty moving through the airways of his or her lungs because of the blockages and constriction of the throat, nasal passages, larynx, and windpipe. As a result, your cat may make a loud noise, indicating that it is congested.
Why Does My Cat’s Breathing Sound Congested?
Now that we understand what loud breathing is, we can focus our attention on the factors that might induce these airway blockages. As you shall see, obstructed breathing is associated with a wide range of medical disorders.
1. Foreign Bodies in the Trachea
When your cat is breathing, it may sound congested because of a foreign body in its airways that is impeding its airways. Cats are inquisitive creatures who like discovering and exploring their surroundings. However, they may inhale foreign material that will become stuck in their trachea at some point.
Due to the obstruction of the airways, breathing might become loud when the air blows past the foreign body in the airway. Furthermore, it will create respiratory issues in cats, such as your cat breathing excessively when sleeping or breathing unevenly. When your cat purrs, it may sound congested because of foreign things in his or her system.
For your cat’s heavy breathing to return to normal, a veterinarian will need to remove the foreign body from its stomach. See a veterinarian immediately possible to ensure that your cat does not suffer any longer than is necessary.
If your cat is wheezing and exhaling noisily, there is a good probability that they are suffering from asthma. Another set of clinical indications that cats with asthma exhibit are fast breathing, coughing or hacking, and a general inability to breathe normally.
Because of an inflammatory reaction, asthma is characterized by a constriction of the airways. As a result, they get narrower, making breathing more difficult and loud. So, if your cat suffers from asthma, you may try to get more air into their lungs by having them breathe through their mouths instead.
According to veterinarians, irritants in the air induce asthma or are at the very least responsible for the onset of asthma symptoms. Many different things can irritate your cat’s skin, including pollen, dust mites, cigarette smoke, artificial perfumes, and even the cat itself! As a result, one method of assisting your cat is to make an effort to limit the quantity of allergens in your home.
The following are some suggestions that may be beneficial to cats that suffer from asthma:
- Air Humidifiers: The use of an air humidifier for cats with asthma can help to reduce the inflammatory response that cats experience as a result of dry air in the environment. As a result, their asthma symptoms may be less severe.
- Cat Litter: Conventional clay cat litters include a lot of dust, artificial smells, and chemicals, all of which can irritate the respiratory tract. Changes in cat litter for cats with asthma, such as using a litter reduced in dust, scents, and chemicals, can help relieve asthma symptoms.
- Cleaning Your Home: Something as easy as cleaning your home regularly will help decrease the collection of dust in your home, which can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Additionally, try to choose cleaning solutions that are not overpoweringly perfumed and do not include harsh chemicals to reduce your carbon footprint.
Furthermore, you should take your cat to the veterinarian. A medicine known as corticosteroids, used to relieve airways inflammation, will be available for prescription. They may be used in conjunction with bronchodilators, which can aid in dilating the airways and facilitating breathing.
3. Infections of the Upper Respiratory Tract
In cats, upper respiratory infections (URIs) are characterized by symptoms such as nasal congestion and obstructed breathing. These sorts of illnesses are exceedingly prevalent and are equivalent in severity to the common cold in humans. They are caused by various viruses and bacteria that infect the sufferer’s nose, throat, and sinuses.
If your kitty suffers from an upper respiratory infection (URI), the body will respond by triggering an immune response. This results in an inflammation of the upper airways as well as an overproduction of mucus, which further obstructs the tubes of the lungs. These factors cause your cat’s breathing to sound clogged when used together.
Aside from the fact that cats breathe loudly, the following are some of the most typical symptoms:
- Sneezing and coughing
- Excessive discharge from the nostrils and eyes
- Ulcers in the mouth or nose
- Congestion in the sinuses or a runny nose
Besides that, cats purr while they sleep, either as a sign of satisfaction or as a form of dreaming. In contrast, if this purring sound starts to sound more like snoring, it is yet another indication that they may be congested and feeling a little run down.
4. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
Unless anything is awry, most cats will not produce any audible noises when they are breathing. However, due to anatomical anomalies in the airways, flat-faced cat breeds are often more loud than other cat breeds.
There are various distinct anomalies frequent in brachycephalic breeds such as Persians, Exotic Shorthairs, and Himalayans. These conditions include:
- Pinched and narrower nostrils, known as stenotic nares
- An enlarged soft palate that reaches into the throat
- A hypoplastic trachea that lacks cartilage rings, creating narrower airways
If a cat suffers from BOAS, it might suffer from one or more of the scenarios above. In each scenario, the airways are clogged either by extra tissue or a decreased diameter, creating airway resistance. It means your cat will sound congested and breathe loudly. Cats with BOAS will also typically demonstrate open-mouth breathing.
If your flat-faced cat is suffering from breathing, see the vet so they may do an examination. If BOAS is provided as the diagnosis, your veterinarian may prescribe medication or propose surgery to rectify the physical abnormalities.
5. The Build-Up of Fluid
The existence of fluid in or around the lungs might cause cats to sound congested when they breathe at certain times of the year. In the case of pulmonary edema, fluid collects in and around the lung’s alveoli. In contrast, fluid accumulation in and around the pleura (sac encircling the lung) is a pleural effusion (plural).
Cats’ lungs are unable to expand appropriately in either situation due to the fluid. This makes it difficult for cats to breathe and for their bodies to receive enough oxygen. Thus, when breathing is compromised due to a buildup of fluid in the lungs, it is an “emergency” in medicine.
There are various signs and symptoms of fluid buildup in the lungs that you should be aware of, including the following:
- Heavy and fast breathing
- Taking deep breaths via an open mouth
- Wheezing or a dry cough
- Excessive fatigue and sluggishness
- Appetite loss
- Mucous membranes become discolored with a blue hue.
- Swelling in the abdomen
6. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
It is a lung illness that progresses over time and can range in severity from moderate to severe. All phases, however, have one thing in common: they all impede airflow into and out of the lungs, which might cause your cat to sound congested while he or she is trying to breathe.
Although there is no established cause of COPD in cats, it is believed that long-term exposure to irritants is a significant risk factor for the ailment. These irritants are the same as those that veterinarians believe are responsible for asthma attacks, including allergens, cigarette smoke, and other airborne contaminants. In addition, the condition is more frequent in elderly cats than in younger cats, which is a concern.
Because COPD is a progressive disease, your cat must be treated as soon as possible rather than later. As a result, watch out for symptoms such as congestion, shortness of breath, and recurrent respiratory infections, three of the most typical indicators of the condition. If you come across them, make an appointment with a veterinarian immediately soon.
Although it is a less likely explanation, hyperthyroidism might be the cause of your cat’s noisy breathing through its nose. However, these are a few of the more prevalent signs of this condition:
The following symptoms:
- Increased hunger, thirst, and urination
- Increased feelings of restlessness
- An increase in aggressive behavior
- Loss of weight
When a cat has this ailment, the thyroid glands near the base of the neck create an overabundance of thyroid hormone, which causes the cat to become overweight. This hormone is critical in regulating metabolism, explaining why cats eat more while losing weight and appearing more active than usual.
The thyroid glands begin to grow due to the increased production of thyroid hormones. Because of their location in the neck, they may get obstructed in the airways, resulting in loud and challenging breathing. On the other hand, this symptom is completely dependent on how big the glands grow.
8. Tumors and Cancers
A cat’s body can grow tumors at any location on its body, even within the airways. This might result in airway blockage and congested breathing if the tumors continue to develop at their current size. Tumors in the windpipe, voice box, lungs, sinuses, or in the back of the throat are examples of this type of tumor.
The presence of tumors in the airways in cats is exceedingly unusual in all circumstances. The symptoms will vary depending on exactly where the tumor is forming in the airways.
Tumors detected in the airways will not be malignant in the vast majority of cases, so try not to be very concerned. However, they must be removed as soon as possible before they become too huge and begin to negatively impair your cat’s life. If your cat’s veterinarian determines that the tumors are malignant, he or she will have to undergo cancer treatment. This might entail procedures such as surgical removal of the tissue and chemotherapy treatment.
What Should I Do If My Cat’s Breathing Sounds Congested?
When cats cough or wheeze, they are almost always ill in some way. This might be caused by anything as simple as a foreign body being lodged in their trachea. A cat’s congested breathing, on the other hand, has been related to several more severe illnesses, including cancer, COPD, and fluid buildup in the lungs.
As a result, the first thing to do if my cat’s breathing sounds clogged is to schedule an appointment with my veterinarian. As soon as you bring your pet to the veterinarian, they will perform a physical examination and run further tests – such as blood and urine tests or x-rays – to determine what is causing their loud breathing.
They will diagnose the problem and discuss treatment options based on the findings of their tests. Treatment is often comprised of medicine, surgery, or a mix of the two methods. Once you have returned home, you will need to follow the medication regimen advised assisting your cat in recovering from its sickness. If your cat has undergone surgery to remove the obstruction, you will be responsible for providing care for your cat until he or she has healed.
Furthermore, you may aid in the prevention of obstructed breathing in the future by doing the following:
- Avoiding severe activity in cats with untreatable underlying illnesses. Your veterinarian will inform you of this at the time of your appointment.
- Maintaining a warm and humid environment in your house. This aids in the dilation of the airways, resulting in reduced resistance to the air passage. Consider investing in a humidifier to alleviate the situation.
- Get rid of irritants and allergies in your home or office. Although they are not the cause of congested breathing, these irritants can exacerbate the condition by causing airway inflammation.
- Monitoring your cat’s respiratory rate frequently can ensure that they breathe at an average pace.
How Do We Provide an Inhaler to a Cat?
You may be surprised to discover that, with a little effort, many cats will handle the use of an inhaler rather well, if not completely. The inhaler must be used in conjunction with a mask that is gently placed over your cat’s face and is coupled to a ‘spacer’ device to be effective. Your veterinarian will assist you in acclimatizing your cat to the new environment. The primary advantage of using an inhaler is that it delivers a precise quantity of medication directly into the airways, where it is most required, without having a significant effect on the rest of the body, as is the case with oral medications. As a result, inhaled therapy is frequently highly effective while also causing low or no adverse effects in most cases.