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Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and Dickens today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy work with you.
With the symptoms that you are describing, I am very concerned for Dickens. Any cat with labored breathing should be treated as an emergency. This can often be a sign of heart disease with fluid build up in the chest, but can also be seen in a cat that is suffering from asthma. Both need immediate attention from a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment and neither are something that can be treated at home, at least until the respiratory distress is under better control. I would urge you to get Dickens in to see your vet as soon as you can.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please reply so I can clarify for you.
My posted replies are for general education only and not meant as a diagnosis. Only after a thorough veterinary examination can a diagnosis for your pet be made and specific treatments be advised or medications be prescribed.
Heartworms could be an option as well as they usually lead to more "asthma like" signs than signs of heart disease. The swelling could be edema, but it is hard to say without an exam.
I am not sure if this would be helpful or not, but it is worth looking into. Good luck.
Care credit (veterinary): http://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/