Cat Breathing With Mouth Open

Cat Breathing With Mouth Open

Seeing your cat breathing continuously with her mouth open is a cause for concern and you should bring her to the vet for a thorough assessment. But, what what may cause this and why is it a cause for concern?

Cat breathing heavy with mouth open 

A cat breathing continuously with her mouth open means that she is having difficulty with breathing. The cat may have feline dyspnea which means that your kitty is having problems with inhaling and exhaling air. This condition is often called also respiratory distress and is often accompanied by other feline health disorders. 

These are the common symptoms of feline dyspnea:

  • your cat may breathe heavily with a mouth wide open
  • her chest and belly may move while breathing heavily 
  • your cat’s breathing is noisy and raspy 
  • she is standing or crouching with elbows splayed 
  • she is unable to sleep and very restless
  • your cat may extend her head and neck
  • her gums are blue or purple indicating that your cat can’t get enough oxygen
  • your cat is hiding, has a loss of appetite and has general lethargy 
  • her nostrils may flare open while breathing heavily 

Probable causes of feline dyspnea

These are the probable causes of feline dyspnea:

  • congestive heart failure
  • an abdominal disorder like bloating or enlarged liver
  • lung disease or infection
  • tumors or cancer in the lungs 
  • obstructions that occlude the airways
  • bleeding in the lungs or chest 
  • heartworm disease
  • tracheal disorder
  • respiratory infection
  • fluid accumulation in the chest due to feline infectious peritonitis
  • asthma
  • pain or shock due to a fall or blunt force trauma
  • abnormal fluid accumulation in the lungs due to heart or lung disease

Diagnosis for cat breathing with mouth open 

Immediate consultation with your vet is vital if your cat is showing prolonged and abnormal panting and heavy breathing. Diagnostic tests may be needed to determine the culprit of your cat’s dyspnea. These are the following:

  • a complete medical history and physical exam 
  • stethoscope examination of the heart and lungs 
  • X-ray or chest radiograph 
  • electrocardiogram or EKG 
  • echocardiogram or ECG 
  • blood pressure measurement 
  • laboratory and blood tests

Treatment options for cat breathing with mouth open

Treatment options for cat breathing with mouth open
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Treatment for this condition will depend on the underlying causes and initiated to help your cat become stable and calm while tests are made to pinpoint the culprit.  The common treatment options as recommended by veterinarians may include the following:

  • hospitalization and administration of oxygen
  • minimizing the stress of your cat
  • administration of diuretics 
  • drug therapy 

Home care is also recommended as a follow-up measure. The following home care treatment should be done:

  • give the prescribed medication as directed and inform your vet at once if you encounter problems with treating your cat 
  • give your cat enough water 
  • visit your vet for regular examinations to check for improvement 


Preventive measures for dyspnea may depend on how you manage your cat’s health. Regular visits to the veterinarian are beneficial for the early detection of probable causes. Make sure that your cat’s heartworm and flea prescriptions are updated.

You should also monitor and be aware of behavioral changes in your kitty since it may provide subtle clues on health issues like dyspnea. 

When is cat breathing with mouth open considered normal?

A cat breathing with its mouth open may also just be a normal response among felines. While a panting cat is rare compared to panting dogs, cats may pant when they feel hot or overheated, after active playtime or exercise, or when they are stressed or anxious.

It is considered normal panting if it is resolved once your cat was able to rest or has cooled down. 


You do not have to worry too much if your cat breathes with its mouth open and resumes to normal breathing and activity after a few moments of resting following active playtime with fellow cats.

However, you should bring your kitty to the vet right away if you notice that her heavy breathing and panting become prolonged and if she becomes restless and agitated.

Abnormal panting may already be a sign of a serious health condition. Immediate consultation with your vet is necessary to determine the underlying causes so that the proper treatment and medication may be administered. 

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