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Peter Bennett, DVM
Peter Bennett, DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 1306
Experience:  20 years experience as a Small Animal veterinarian
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I had a vet tell me abdominal breathing is very bad in cats.

Customer Question

I had a vet tell me 'abdominal breathing is very bad' in cats. I don't know what that is. So now I'm obsessively watching him see if he's ok. He has no other symptoms - he's full of energy, eats, plays, etc. He was sneezing - but has been taking an antihistamine (prescribed) and the sneezing is subsiding. And his xrays are clear, as were his blood tests. This vet had me unnecessarily scared about something else - so I'm wondering if this is - less than helpful - information as well.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Cat
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Age: 6; Male; Breed: brown tabby w/white paws,nose

Already Tried:
He was at the vet a month ago - for sneezing. -which was diagnosed as allergies - when blood test and xrays were taken - all clean. the vet said to keep an eye out for mouth breathing or wheezing or abdominal breathing...he's not done the first 2, and I don't know what abdominal breathing is. the vet had me in a panic - that he MUST have something serious - but all tests came out clean. still, i've been worrying - not sure if he's breating normally or not. and don't trust this vet any longer - and don't want to go back there. and don't want to spend money if not necessary, or go thru the stress of a visit unnecesariyl. So - what is normal breathing? The ONLY other symptom he has still is he licks his lips often - but I assume that is still related to the allergy he is recovering from.
Expert:  Peter Bennett, DVM replied 8 years ago.

Apparently your cat is in decent health. Abdominal breathing is a sign of difficulty in getting satisfactory breaths due to a problem in the chest. Pneumonia, cancer, and heart conditions would be common problems that may be associated with it..

The signs develop because the cat can't get sufficient air by simply expanding it's chest, which is the normal procedure. It then makes noticeably efforts to expand it's abdomen and thereby pull it's diaphragm down to suck a little more air into the lungs. You may also see breathing with the mouth open, as if that will also help.

Cats doing this type of breathing are in respiratory distress and abdominal breathing is but one sign that things are not right with the cat. I suspect you would be going to the vet for some other sign than abdominal breathing.

There is a condition called feline asthma where a cat goes through episodes of apparent respiratory difficulties. In reality the cat is not in difficulty, but is trying to clear it's upper airway by coughing. It is lying flat on the floor, head and neck extended, and coughing as someone with a deep chest cold would do.

There are spells like this several times a day, progressing to more frequently if it goes untreated. There seems to be some allergic component to this, but nothing that appears on any tests. It responds quite nicely to a brief treatment with cortisone, especially when started at the first sign of the problem.

'Allergies' in cats aren't really common. Animal allergies show as skin itching, not as allergies appear in people.

Normal breathing in a cat is barely noticeably. As with all animals, you can see their chest moving. Cats do not pant as dogs do, unless they are having a problem. Mouth breathing, as it's called, justifies a trip to the vet if it persists more than, say an hour.

Licking the lips can be normal if there is something foreign on the lips... such as food or other unique taste from ? It is also an indication of nausea, or excess salivation (swallowing usually results in licking the lips briefly). This may be in response to dental or gum problems. 6 years of age is an acceptable age for these problems to show up.

But licking is not a result of 'allergy'. An allergy isn't something to be recovered from,,, it's lifelong unless specifically diagnosed and treated, as with immunization injections.

I hope this is helpful. If you have further questions, just hit reply and ask... they all come under the one deposit. Otherwise, best wishes.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I received this as a "please give me more information" response the other day - then there was a malfunction on the site - and couldn't get access to the response til today.


So - I ended up taking my cat to a live vet instead.


I do not choose to pay because your site locked me out.