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While stress can cause rapid breathing, this is usually situational and resolves within a short amount of time. Is she coughing? Does the rapid breathing seem to happen at certain parts of the day or is it all the time? Are they made worse by activity?
In an outdoor kitty, we may be dealing with a parasitic cause, an allergic cause or something else like heart disease. Heart disease in cats has a bimodal distribution in that young cats and middle age to older cats are most commonly affected.
Since we don't have finances for a lot of diagnostics, its worth a round of deworming (with fenbendazole or Panacur) to treat possible lung worms or other parasites that have a migrating life cycle and may not necessarily show up in the stool without a microscopic exam. Aside from that, the rest of my recommendations would include radiographs to rule out heart disease or confirm a suspicion of asthma. Treatment for asthma is with steroids but steroids will make heart disease or an infectious process worse, so I don't recommend using steroids until these have been ruled out.
The lungworms are usually spread through the feces so as long as you have followed proper sanitary measures, she should be fine but it snot a bad idea to deworm her too just in case. Fenbandazole is very safe and usually inexpensive.