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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21257
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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Hi there Ive asked about my Burmese cat (9mo) on here before

Customer Question

Hi there
I've asked about my Burmese cat (9mo) on here before but today I have an emergency question. Minko's always been a noisy breather but it's got worse since he's been about 5/6mo. He sounds very snorty and congested, snores when asleep and awake. We've taken him to our vet for it three times. First they said it was nothing to worry about, the second time they suggested xrays. These showed a small shadow on his lung and they gave him antibiotics to help. I didn't think they had worked as his breathing continued to be noisy, but when we took him to be xrayed again, the vet said the shadow looked better and his chest sounded clearer, said he was growing well and was obviously in good health. She felt either he was a snuffly cat (said that wasn't uncommon in Burmese) or thought he might be developing early asthma, but they wouldn't treat at this stage.
That was 6 weeks ago. However, in the last couple of weeks, I really feel his breathing is noisier than ever. Not all the time, but we notice it quite a bit. His general health is very good, he weighs 4.5kg, eats well, has loads of energy and a glossy coat - no discharge from his eyes or nose. I had never seen him bothered by this breathing issue, panting or stretching out to breathe. Sometimes I time his breathing. It can be over 40 a minute, but more usually it's 27-30 when he's resting.
Yesterday, though, I noticed when he was lying stretched out on his back asleep, his abdomen was really moving up and down and his breathing sounded quite coarse. And then, just now, he was washing himself, looked up, and took a few quick breaths through his mouth. I've been watching for that symptom and it's the first time I've ever seen him do it (my partner and I both work from home so are with him a lot, and I feel we would probably have noticed this before if he'd done it). Is this an emergency situation? It's Sunday so we can't call our vet and it would have to be the emergency one. Minko has now taken himself to bed and looks comfortable, curled up sleeping, breathing normally (and quietly). Please let me know if we should take him to the emergency vet?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Oh Minko!

First, I want you to take a deep breath. The key here is that he is breathing normally just now. With that and as long as he has nice/pink gums, we are not in an emergency situation.

If he has always had a respiratory issue afoot then he may show increased respiration when on his back (since all his organs are pressing down on the lungs that way -- a reason why we don't like doing midline surgeries in obese animals with that weight on the lungs) and this may be normal for him. The key to that situation is that he was happy and comfortable to lay in that way (if he wasn't, he wouldn't).

As well, a few quick breaths with an open mouth is ok (some will do this in play or when using their sense of smell to really get a good deep smell of something). Where we worry is when they open mouth breath continuously at an elevated rate. That would suggest he was in trouble and that would be a sign we need to get him to his vet urgently.

So, it sounds like Minko has been giving you a wee scare but as long as he is comfortable at this moment in time, then we don't need to panic and this isn't a situation where he needs to be rushed to the ER.

Let me know if I can provide any further help,
Dr. B.