Why Is My Cat Wheezing: Common Causes and Symptoms

This article is not designed to replace professional veterinary advice and should not be relied upon as such. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own decisions after consulting with their pet’s health care provider. For more information please consult our medical disclaimer.

If you’re a cat owner, you may have noticed your furry friend wheezing from time to time. While occasional wheezing is usually nothing to worry about, persistent or severe wheezing can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Understanding the possible reasons behind your cat’s wheezing can help you determine if it’s a cause for concern and what steps you should take to help your cat feel better.

In this article, we’ll explore the various reasons why your cat may be wheezing, and what you can do to help your feline friend feel better. We’ll also discuss the symptoms to watch out for, why it’s vital to seek medical advice, and the different treatment options available for different underlying conditions.

white and tabby cat with its mouth open

Understanding Wheezing in Cats

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that occurs when air flows through narrowed breathing tubes. It can be caused by a variety of factors.

If you notice that your cat is making a wheezing sound frequently, or experiencing other respiratory symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. Take them to the vet to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Common Causes of Wheezing

If you notice your cat wheezing, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. Here are some of the most common causes of cat wheezing:

1. Asthma

Asthma is a common condition in cats that can cause wheezing and coughing. It is caused by inflammation in the airways, which makes it difficult for your cat to breathe.

2. Allergies

Just like humans, cats can have allergies. Common allergens for cats include dust mites, pollen, and certain foods.

An allergic reaction can cause wheezing, as well as other symptoms like itching and skin irritation.

3. Respiratory Infections

Another possible cause of wheezing in cats is respiratory infections. Cats can contract respiratory infections, such as a feline upper respiratory infection (URI), which can lead to wheezing.

An upper respiratory tract infection is often caused by a virus like feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus. These viral infections can also cause other symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, and coughing. In some cases, bacterial infections can also cause wheezing.

4. Heart Disease

Wheezing can be a symptom of heart problems in cats. If your cat is wheezing and also experiencing other symptoms like lethargy or loss of appetite, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

5. Foreign Objects

Sometimes, cats can accidentally inhale foreign bodies, such as grass, hair, or small toys, which can cause wheezing and other respiratory symptoms. If you suspect your cat has inhaled a foreign object, take them to the veterinarian immediately.

6. Heartworm Disease

Feline heartworm disease is a serious condition that can cause wheezing in cats. It is caused by a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and lungs.

white cat with its mouth open

Wheezing in Cats: Symptoms to Watch Out For

If you suspect that your cat is wheezing, it’s important to keep an eye out for other symptoms that may indicate an underlying issue. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Coughing: If your cat is coughing frequently, it may be a sign of a feline asthma attack or another respiratory issue. A cat’s coughing can also be a sign of heart disease, so it’s important to get your cat checked out by a veterinarian if you notice this symptom.
  • Rapid Breathing: If your cat is breathing rapidly or panting, it could be a sign of respiratory distress. This is a serious symptom that requires immediate veterinary attention. Respiratory distress can also cause coughing, gagging, and wheezing in cats.
  • Lethargy: If your cat is lethargic or seems to be sleeping more than usual, it could be a sign that they are not getting enough oxygen. This is another serious symptom that requires urgent veterinary attention.
  • Loss of Appetite: If your cat is wheezing and also not eating or drinking as much as usual, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. Loss of appetite can be a symptom of a wide variety of health issues, so it’s important to get your cat checked out by a vet if you notice this symptom.
  • Blue or Pale Gums: If your cat’s gums are blue or pale, it could be a sign of oxygen deprivation. This is a serious symptom that requires immediate veterinary attention.

When to See a Vet

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Wheezing can be a sign of a serious underlying issue, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and get your cat checked out. Prompt veterinary attention can help ensure the best possible care, treatment and outcome for your cat. Remember, your cat’s health and well-being are in your hands.

white cat being examined by a vet

Diagnosing Feline Wheezing

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam, and may recommend additional diagnostic tests such as a blood test, chest X-ray, or a bronchoscopy to determine the cause of your cat’s wheezing. A bronchoscopy involves inserting a small camera into your cat’s airway to look for signs of inflammation or obstruction.

During the physical exam, the vet will listen to your cat’s lungs and heart to check for any abnormalities. They may also check for signs of nasal discharge, coughing, congestion, or fever.

Your vet may also refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and appropriate treatment.

Treatment Options for Wheezing in Cats

Treatment options will depend on the specific cause of the wheezing. Here are some common treatment options:

Medications

Your vet may prescribe medications such as bronchodilators or corticosteroids to help open up your cat’s airways and reduce inflammation. These may be given as oral medication or through an inhaler.

If your cat’s wheezing is caused by a bacterial infection, they may prescribe antibiotics.

Allergy Management

If your cat’s wheezing is caused by allergies, your vet may recommend allergy testing to determine the specific allergen causing the reaction.

Once the allergen is identified, you can work to manage your cat’s exposure to it. This may involve changing their diet, using air filters, or keeping them away from certain plants or substances.

Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be necessary – for example, to remove a growth or foreign object in your cat’s airway that is causing the wheezing.

It’s essential to follow your vet’s recommendations for treatment and follow-up care to ensure your cat’s health and well-being. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many cases of feline wheezing can be managed effectively.

cream cat sitting on top of a scratching post

Home Care and Management

In addition to any prescribed medications or treatments, there are some things you can do at home to help manage your cat’s wheezing. Here are some tips to help your cat feel better:

  • Keep the air clean: Make sure your home is free of dust, cigarette smoke, and other irritants that can trigger wheezing. Use an air purifier to help remove allergens from the air.
  • Keep your cat calm: Stress can make wheezing worse. Try to keep your cat’s environment calm and relaxed by providing a quiet, comfortable space for them to rest.
  • Monitor your cat’s breathing: Keep an eye on your cat’s breathing and watch for signs of distress. If your cat is having difficulty breathing, exhibits shortness of breath, or seems to be in pain, contact your veterinarian right away.
  • Offer plenty of water: Make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean water at all times. This can help keep their airways moist and reduce irritation.
  • Consider a humidifier: If your home is dry, a humidifier can help add moisture to the air and reduce wheezing.
  • Keep your cat litter box clean: This can help to prevent respiratory issues.
  • Feed your cat a healthy diet: This can help boost your cat’s immune system and reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Make sure your cat is eating a balanced diet that is appropriate for their age and health.

Remember, if your cat is wheezing, it’s important to have a qualified vet diagnosis before commencing any treatment. Your veterinarian can help determine the underlying cause of your cat’s wheezing and recommend the best course of treatment.

Prevention Strategies

If you want to prevent your cat from wheezing, there are several strategies you can follow. Here are some tips to help you keep your cat healthy and reduce the risk of wheezing:

1. Keep Your Home Clean

Dust, pollen, and other allergens can trigger wheezing in cats. To reduce the risk of your cat developing allergies, keep your home clean. Vacuum regularly, wash your cat’s bedding frequently, and use an air purifier to remove allergens from the air.

2. Reduce Stress

Stress can weaken your cat’s immune system and increase the risk of respiratory infections. To reduce stress, provide your cat with a safe and comfortable environment. Make sure your cat has plenty of toys, a comfortable bed, and a quiet place to rest.

3. Feed a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet will help to keep your cat’s immune system strong, which in turn can reduce their risk of developing respiratory problems. Feed your cat a high quality cat food designed specifically for their age, and avoid feeding your cat table scraps or foods that are high in fat or sugar.

4. Keep Your Cat Active

Regular exercise can help keep your cat healthy and reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Encourage your cat to play and exercise by providing toys and playing with them regularly.

Following these prevention strategies will help to keep your cat healthy and reduce the risk of wheezing.

By understanding the possible causes and symptoms of cat wheezing, the importance of consulting with your vet, the treatment options available, and the benefits of prevention strategies, cat owners can minimise the impact of wheezing and help their cat live a happy and healthy life.

Pin for later: Why is My Cat Wheezing?

we'll explore the various reasons why your cat may be wheezing, and what you can do to help your feline friend feel better. We'll also discuss the symptoms to watch out for, why it's vital to seek medical advice, and the different treatment options available for different underlying conditions.

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