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VetTechErin, Licensed Vet Tech
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 681
Experience:  Published author in veterinary medical journals and on the Veterinary Information Network with a focus in toxicology
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Our cat is lethargic and not eating, and seems to have labored

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Our cat is lethargic and not eating, and seems to have labored breathing. This started yesterday. We have not seen her drink water either. There are no houseplants or chemicals in the house she could get to. Could this just be a hairball problem?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 5 years ago.
Hi there, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I am so sorry to hear about your kitty's trouble. I have a few questions for you, if you don't mind answering them. This will help me get a bit more info, so I can give you a bit more info! :)

Has she vomited at all recently?
How have her litterbox habits been (still urinating, not straining to defecate)?
Does her belly seem distended or sore to the touch?
If you're able to lift up her lips and take a peek at her gums, can you tell me what color they are?
Is she up to date on all her vaccinations?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No vomiting. She is urinating, has not defecated. Her belly seems fine. Her gums are a pale pink. She is up to date on vaccinations.
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my questions.

It is unlikely that what you are describing will have been caused by a hairball.

Considering the number of issues that your kitty seems to have going on, I think it would best for her if you get her seen at the ER.

The labored breathing, lack of eating, the lack of bowel movements, and possibly the pale gums (depending on how pale they are) are all concerning signs.

Systemic infections, bowel blockage, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, tumors, something stuck in the windpipe .... there are many possible causes for what could be going on, most all of them emergencies.

You can locate an ER vet in your area by using this site.

Please keep me updated with the status of your kitty, and I hope you get her to feeling better soon.

If you have any follow-up questions, I would be happy to continue working with you if you would just hit "reply".

Otherwise good luck!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The gums do have some pink. Her breathing is not as if there is blockage or something, just kind of fast... she does breathe like that when she is sleeping sometimes. She is responsive to noises and will move around the house sometimes. I just hate to go to the ER when the minimum fee is $250 if this is just a simple issue.
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 5 years ago.
I completely understand, as the costs of emergency clinics and their services can be quite high.

Fast and labored breathing can be both an indicator of pain (if the problem is located elsewhere), or an indicator of an actual difficulty breathing. Cats generally attempt to hide signs of illness, so we have to rely on other factors to determine if they're truly sick.

Without a physical examination and a client/doctor relationship, no definitive diagnosis can be given. I am unable to tell you for sure what is going on with your cat.

The best way to determine what's going on inside (and what your vet will likely want to do) is through bloodwork and xrays as a first step.

Here is a link to several options and organizations that help with the cost of emergency vet care. I recommend CareCredit if your local ER vet accepts it, as it is a no-interest "credit card" for vet care that allows you to pay back on a payment plan.

I'm sorry that you're having to go through this with your kitty. :( Such situations are always stressful, especially when you have to make a decision about the immediacy of her need. I can tell you that from what you've described, it would be safest to have her checked out as soon as you can.
VetTechErin and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  VetTechErin replied 5 years ago.
Hello again,

I just wanted to check up on you and your kitty. Is she feeling better, and were you able to figure out what was wrong?