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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 20632
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 cat has a big problem several to es of the day in exhaling

Resolved Question:

My cat has a big problem several to es of the day in exhaling breath. Loud gurgling sound at the same time
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.

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

How long has he had these signs?

How old is your cat?

Can you take a breathing rate for me (just count his breaths for 10 seconds + multiply by 6)?

Are his gums pink or pale/white?

Any coughing, sneezing or runny eyes or nose?

Any vomiting or appetite loss?

Does he sound congested or stuffed up?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
1. Six weeks. 2.16-17yrs. 3 . 30 4. Pale white.5.sneezing. 6.appetite loss. 7. Loud gurgling when exhaling
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you,

Now is this more then one cat (since you gave an age range) with white gums?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
One cat aged approx 16-17yrs. Was a stray when I took him in exact age unknown.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you again,

That is fine, I just wanted to make sure we didn't have multiple cats affected.
Now the problem here is that while his respiratory signs (ie sneezing, throat gurgling, appetite loss, etc) are suggestive of upper respiratory tract disease and/or cat flu, those pale gums are a red flag of a bigger problem. They suggest that your lad either has anemia (low blood volume) or is struggling to take in enough oxygen with each breath (often related to lung or heart disease). And if his respiratory rate is 30 bpm (where 20-30 breaths per minute is normal), I'd be very worried that it is the low blood volume causing this worrying sign. In regards ***** ***** we can see this related to internal bleeding (ie due to trauma or a bleeding tumor), due to immune destruction of the red blood cells, due to loss of bone marrow function (often associated again with tumors or feline viruses like FIV or FeLV), or secondary to organ disease (ie kidney failure).

Therefore, I will cover some supportive care that you can use to keep his breathing comfortable and tempt him to eat; but with the pale gums it is important to consider having him seen. Because if this anemia is left to progress, he will start to struggle to breathe, collapse, and potentially pass away.

Now in regards ***** ***** care for his signs, if he is sneezing, congested, and sounding fluidy; then we can use a bit of steam treatment to help reduce this. To do so, you can take him in the bathroom while you run a hot shower. The steam will help loosen and clear some of the snot congesting him. You can also use a baby humidifier/nebulizer, but often cats don’t like things held up to their faces. Therefore, we can often make little ‘steam tents’ with the kitty in their carrier, a humidifier, and a light bed sheet over both to make a little steam room for him.


Further to that if he is very congested and the steam isn't shifting it, you can use a cotton ball moistened with warm water to wipe away crust and mucus. As well, saline nasal drops (like Ocean Mist but not anything medicated) can be used to reduce nasal congestion. To administer, just tilt the head back and drop two to three drops in one nostril. Cats hate this, but it helps. After the drops go down, you can let the head up and wipe away any discharge that gets loosened. Then repeat with the other nostril.

If you are seeing any discharges from his eyes as well, you can use saline (either plain contact lens solution or eye wash from the first aid kit) and a cotton ball to wipe away the discharges from the eyes a few times daily. While he won't enjoy it, it will soothe those sore eyes.

Making sure he is getting food and water is important, as congested cats who can’t smell their food often won’t eat as well as they should. Therefore,since his appetite is poor, we'd want to try tempting him with smelly wet foods (since they are high in water). It may help to warm it up a bit in the microwave to help him be able to smell it. Otherwise, we can offer Hill's A/D (LINK), Royal Canin Recovery (LINK), or Clinicare Canine/Feline Liquid Diet (LINK). All of these are critical care diets that are calorically dense, so a little goes a long way nutrition-wise. And these could just help get some more calories into him even if we can’t get a huge volume of food in. As well, all can be watered down to syringe feed if need be.


Now feline herpes is just one of a few potential agents that can cause these respiratory signs. Since he has a stray background, you can cover for this. Specifically, we can find that L-lysine (a nutritional supplement) can help kitties with herpes recover quicker. This is available over the counter at vets, pet stores, and health food stores. They tend to come as powders, gels, or crushable tablets that can be added to food. An average cat dose is 500mg a day.

Overall, I must say that I am very concerned about these pale gums at his age. It does raise major concerns of anemia and could lead to him collapsing should this progress. Therefore, in this case and with that sign, we do want to consider following up with his vet urgently so this can be addressed. While arranging that, to help reduce his respiratory signs, you can initiate supportive care to make him comfortable and monitor him closely. Once his vet can see him, they will be able to pinpoint the cause of this anemia and advise you if it is something we can treat and address for him to get him back to himself.

I hope this information is helpful.

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

All the best,

Dr. B.

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