Cat Wheezing: Symptoms and Reasons

Cat Wheezing Symptoms and Reasons

Cat wheezing is a health problem that affects cats, and often causes concern for their owners. No one likes seeing their cat wheezing, or coughing. It always looks very uncomfortable, and we feel kind of helpless.

A cat’s respiratory system should be calm, smooth, and relaxing. If they are in a resting position and breathing heavy, panting, wheezing, coughing, or doing any other irregular motions – there is a problem.

I am going to run through some of the more common reasons for these problems. But obviously, if you have concerns you should consult a professional veterinarian as soon as possible.

Symptoms and causes of Breathing Problems in Cats

Rapid Breathing

If your cat is breathing rapidly, there can be a number of reasons for this. It can be due to stress, anxiety, sickness like a fever, or being too hot.

While those are the more common reasons, some other serious problems can be an underlying issue.

Like shock, anemia, heart disease, lung disease, or other internal problems affecting the organs. The exact cause is hard to predict without an x-ray or other examination.


After a burst of exercise or having a run-in with another cat can lead to panting. It’s one of a cat’s ways to naturally lower their body temperature.

This works by allowing water to evaporate from their mouth as they pant. Warm air is exchanged for cool air, and the process makes a fairly quick difference.

Cats also sweat a little through the bottom of their paws. As well as grooming. If panting persists for a long time, there may be a heatstroke issue.

Always ensure cool, fresh water is on hand. Cats will breathe through a slightly opened mouth while they cool down. It is also a sign they are frightened sometimes.

Slow Breathing

Slow breathing is usually a sign of a serious condition. There are some instances when the cat is just in shock, or dealing with some anxiety.

But more often than not it’s due to a serious internal organ issue, or a blood clot. You should always take your kitty to a vet if they are breathing slowly.

Noisy Breathing

If your cat is making noise while breathing, this is an indication there is some kind of obstruction.

Some breeds of cat, such as Persians have shortened muzzles that lead to a noisy breathing pattern. This is completely fine, but if your cat starts breathing noisy there is issue.

The most common reasons are some sort of blockage in the throat or nasal passage. This can clear over time, or with some anti-biotics.

If it persists, there may be a more serious issue. A vet will inspect their breathing ways, and give you an exact diagnosis.

Shallow Breathing

Conditions that put some restriction on the cat’s rib cage is most likely to lead to shallow breathing.

Pleurisy or fractures to the rib cage are common causes. There can also be fluid on the lungs for a number of reasons.

Either way, you should seek help from a vet to stop the problem becoming worse. There is not always visible signs of pain, so keep a close eye on your kitty.


Wheezing can be described as a whistling noise. It happens when a cat is breathing normally, and is a strong indication that there is an issue with their bronchial tubes.

Causes of wheezing are usually heartworms, lungworms, asthma, tumors, and other kinds of growths in the bronchial tubes.

It’s certainly a condition that you need to get checked out by a professional. This extra stress this puts on the cat’s breathing can lead to other and more serious problems if left alone.


Cats spend a lot of time grooming. As they groom they are always ingesting loose hair, which builds up inside their stomachs and doesn’t get broken down.

Some small amounts pass through in their waste. While larger amounts get thrown up in the form of ‘furballs’.

Sometimes however, the fur can become stuck in the cat. Causing a blockage, which is turn causes breathing problems.

This can usually be treated easily with some lubrication. Adding more fibre into the cat’s diet, or some other treatments from a vet.

Cat Asthma

Asthma is a problem that affects cats as well as humans. Both the animal and human asthma conditions are very similar.

It causes a chronic inflammation of passageways in the cat’s lungs. This can cause labored or irregular breathing, and some other issues.

They can experience asthma attacks too, making it very difficult for them to breathe while they are experiencing this. Which can be very traumatic to see in person.

The lungs can produce some mucus, causing wheezing and coughing. There are no outright cures, but there are a lot of ways to help your cat manage and soothe the symptoms.