Diagnosing Respiratory Problems in Cats

Cats may have respiratory problems and the symptoms displayed by the cat may help you diagnose the problem. Some cats are more prone to developing respiratory problems, as they have a more flat face and nose. There are several common symptoms displayed by felines with respiratory problems.

Feline Panting

If you notice that your cat is panting this may be due to the fact that the cat is warm and tries to eliminate heat; cats eliminate heat through their tongues and paws not through skin as humans do.

However, should the panting be excessive, your cat may indicate that he has a heat stroke, a congestive heart failure or that he is in pain. Look for additional symptoms to determine what the problem might be.

A heat stroke may be indicated by pale gums (present also in the case of a congestive heart failure), vomiting, seizures and sudden collapse.

Both the heat stroke and the congestive heart failure require immediate intervention. If your cat is in pain, you should look for possible causes.

Feline Gasping

If your cat is gasping for air, this may mean that his air passages are blocked. This may happen due to large chunks of food or an ingested foreign object. You should try removing this object if possible; a vet may also remove the object, but typically the cat requires anesthesia.


Coughing may be a symptom of a respiratory infection or a foreign object stuck in the nose or air ways. However, feline cough may also be due to a lung problem or severe inhalant allergies.


Feline allergies can cause symptoms such as sneezing; however, respiratory infections may also manifest through sneezing.

If the sneezing is chronic and there is also nose bleeding, the cat may have a tumor or a cyst in the nose. A vet can establish if the tumor or cyst may be removed through surgery.

Runny Nose

A runny nose may also be a symptom of a respiratory problem. This may accompany other respiratory symptoms.

If the discharge is clear and comes from both nostrils, this may mean that the cat has an allergic reaction to one or several environmental factors.

If the nasal discharge is transparent, but only comes from one nostril, this points to a tumor, polyps or a foreign object that lodges in one of the nostrils.

Yellowish, thick nasal discharges indicate an upper respiratory infection caused by viruses or bacteria.

A pink, thick nasal discharge points to a fungal infection.

Gurgling Noises

Felines may produce gurgling noises due to different health problems: laryngeal collapse, laryngitis or pharyngitis or congestive heart failure. In some cases, gurgling sounds are produced by the cat without having any health problems.

Keep an eye on your cat’s respiratory patterns and consult your vet when you see that this changes or when your cat displays alarming symptoms such as panting, gasping, gurgling or chronic coughing.