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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21664
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My male cat is 9 years old, it has in the last week become

Customer Question

My male cat is 9 years old, it has in the last week become lethargic, eating little and panting and prefers to sit outside relatively immobile. Your thoughts please.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.

Good morning, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

I must say that from your history I am truly worried about your wee kitty. If your cat is open mouth breathing and panting, then this is a serious concern. Cats do not open mouth breathe like dogs unless they are struggling to get enough oxygen into themselves.

And if he is struggling to oxygenate, then we have to consider that the rest of his behaviors (the lack of eating, lethargy, and sitting very still) are all part of him putting normal life aside to focus on breathing to get as much air in as possible while decreasing the amount of oxygen he'd be using if he were active.

Now when we see this in kitties it can be a sign of a range of issues. Typically, these will be diseases that are centered on the lungs and often include pneumonia, asthma, and even cancers either of the lung or those of the body that have now spread to the lung. Especially in the case of tumors (which we do have to think about at his age), cats will often appear completely normal until the mass reaches a critical size (compromising enough of the lung tissue) to cause signs to suddenly develop. We can also these signs in cats with heart disease (as fluid leaks into the lungs secondary to poor heart function).

In this situation, I would strongly advise having him checked by his vet as soon as possible (we don't want him to go into the weekend this way). If he is really struggling so much that he is open mouth breathing, they can put him in an oxygen tent to relieve his struggle. Once he is comfortable, they can listen to his lungs to appreciate what is causing this respiratory distress. An x-ray may also be indicated to visualize any tumors or signs of infection or fluid. Depending on the findings, the vets will be able to advise you if this is something that can be treated (ie infection, heart dysfunction) to allow him to once again breathe comfortably.

Just to note,
if you don't have a vet you can find one local to you, you can check RCVS register (LINK). or if you need emergency care tonight you can also check here to find your local Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.

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Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )






Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Just a small correction, he is not open mouthed breathing, just slightly unusual speed on breathing.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.
Hi again,

I am glad that he isn't open mouth breathing (which is what I interpreted when you said 'panting'). Still if the respiratory is elevated, then it is concerning and does suggest respiratory compromise if not out and out distress yet.

To give me a better idea of his respiratory rate, can you count his breaths for 10 seconds and then multiply it by 6? This will give an idea of his respiratory rate and can tell us if it is abnormally high or not.

As well, have you noticed whether his gums (or conjunctiva) are their usual rosy pink or pale/white?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Thanks for your thoughtful response.


 


Re: breaths 54.


 


Re: gums and eyes, pretty normal.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.
You are very welcome and thank you for checking those for me.

I am glad that he doesn't appear pale because that would suggest that the respiratory changes were due to blood loss (either from an internal bleed or if he had severe anemia). Still that respiratory rate is high enough that I would be quite concerned about your wee lad. The normal respiratory rate range for a cat is between 20-30 breaths per minute, and as you can see he is nearly double the high end of that. So, we'd have to consider heart and lung based issues.

Therefore, since it is that high and he is really working at it (since he cannot do his normal kitty routines like eat/play/etc), then it would really be prudent to see about having his vet listen his heart/lungs and perhaps have an xray today. This will give us the best chance to identifying the cause and addressing it before he can possibly get to a point where he'd collapse and need to be on oxygen. As well, having him seen to today will hopefully prevent any emergency clinic runs over tonight or the weekend (which as I am sure you can appreciate ER visits can be a bit financially daunting).

Do let me know if there is any other information I can provide.
All the best with your wee one,
Dr. B.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Dr. B.

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 4 years ago.
You are very welcome.
I wish your lad the best in fighting this,
Dr. B.




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Remember that if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please reply so that we may continue our conversation. I will be happy to work with your further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek. Please remember to rate my answer when you are satisfied (with4-5 stars or a happy face) so that I may receive credit for my assistance. Thank you & have a great day. : )