Rapid Breathing in Cats

Have you ever noticed your cat breathing quickly while sleeping? If your cat is breathing rapidly, it can be a sign of a variety of issues from stress to heart disease. Cats are generally subtle in showing their caregivers signs of illness so cat caregivers must be especially vigilant to notice symptoms like rapid breathing.

What Is Normal Breathing (Respiratory Rate) in a Cat?

First, you need to know a healthy respiratory rate (breathing) for a cat, which is 15 to 30 breaths per minute when resting calmly or sleeping. Breaths should include small movements of the chest, if your cats’ sides are moving a large amount, this can indicate labored breathing. Be concerned if your cat’s breathing is abnormal. That means it’s unusually slow, fast or noisy (has a high, harsh or whistling sound) or the cat is having difficulty breathing.

To measure your cats resting respiration rate, count the number of breaths your cat takes while sleeping. One breath consists of your cat’s chest rising(inhaling) and falling (exhaling). Use your phone or watch to time 30 seconds and count how many breaths occur during that 30 second period. Next, multiply the number of breaths you counted by two to get the number of breaths in a minute.

What Is Rapid Breathing in Cats?

Rapid breathing (tachypnea) is a serious a life-threatening condition in which the cat breathes rapidly due to dysfunction of the respiratory system and/ or reduced oxygen. There are several types of breathing disorders which can affect cats, but this article will focus on rapid breathing. When measuring your cat’s respiratory rate, rapid breathing would be defined as anything higher than the normal 15 to 30 breaths per minute. A cat who is hot, stressed, or active may exhibit rapid breathing, but this should decrease after a few minutes. If the breathing does not subside or worsens, it is a symptom of a serious condition that needs to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.





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