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Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 4110
Experience:  I am a practicing small animal veterinarian with 18 years experience.
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My cat has started breathing heavily, coughing and appears

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My cat has started breathing heavily, coughing and appears listless...I often find myself closing the door on his foot or standing on it because he is moving slowly. He usually comes into the house like a shot but doesn't do this either at the moment. He is eating although less voraciously.


Can I get a little more information?

How long has this problem been going on? Does he breath with his mouth open at any time? Does he seem to have more difficulty taking deep breaths?


Does anyone in your household smoke? Do you have any new cleaners, deoderizers, or candles in your house? Does your cat go outside?



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
This has been going on for about 10 days. It sounds like he has catarrh but this is unlikely. Noone smokes, he largely lives outdoors...although seems to be an indoor cat but I'm out in the daytime. He was a stray who came to my house about 9 weeks ago. I brought him to the vet to get checked out when he first came and he needed a tooth out, which happened in the first 2 weeks. I'm reluctant to bring him to the vet again as I've already spent £90 getting his tooth out....and I'm not intending keeping him

No new cleaners, deorderizers or candles, but I did spray some parts of my garden with 'Feed & Weed' about that period of time ago...although I can;t be sure what started first.

Any advice appreciated
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Most of the time he isn't breathing with his mouth open but occasionally he does. This usually precedes a coughing fit. It sounds like he is going to bring something up but doesn't. it doesn't sound like a fur ball. His breathing is audible most of the time now and didn't used to be


The things I would be concerned about are feline asthma, lung infection (like pneumonia), and possibly lung worms.


Cats with asthma tend to be wheezy sounding--similar to a person with asthma. They will open-mouth breath to help bring in more air to their lungs and may have labored breathing or have a lot of abdominal effort when they inhale. Sometimes they cough. Inhaled things like pollen, smoke, etc can bring on an asthma attack. These cats generally need steroids (which can be given as an injection) to calm down the airways and help them feel better. A chest x-ray will usually give the diagnosis.


Cats with a lung infection are going to feel poorly, in addition to having problems breathing. The appetite is likely to be decreased, the cat will be more lethargic and often have a fever. Again, a chest x-ray will probably be done and antibiotics dispensed.


Cats with lungworms will cough. If they have ruptured air sacs in their lungs from the coughing, then they can have problems breathing, too. They get lungworms from eating infected snails, lizards, and other similar prey. Sometimes you can be suspicious of lungworms from an x-ray or find the lungworm eggs in a stool sample. Often I will just treat a coughing cat with an appropriate deworming medication and see how the cat does.


Feline leukemia and/or feline AIDS can be a contributing factor to various problems in cats. It will lower the immune system and make the cat more susceptible to infection.


I would put my bets on asthma. Not sure what your vet charges, but I would anticipate an exam fee and a small x-ray. If asthma, then a steroid injection (or pills, if you can manage that), which would last at least 2 weeks would be given.


Good luck!

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