Why is my cat wheezing?

Does it hurt you when your cat wheezes so frequently?  Yes, this is a point to be noticed when a cat is wheezing regularly and intensely. Many owners show curiosity to know about “Causes of wheezing/heavy breathing in cats. Remember, don’t ignore, if your cat is wheezing on regular basis. Take it into your account and address this issue as early as possible.

In this article, we are going to discuss important causes of wheezing in cats based on general field experience.



  Wheezing is defined as high-pitched sound that a cat produces while breathing. In short, wheezing is caused by dyspnea (difficult breathing) that can be cause by any reason. Here, we are going to summarize some important causes of wheezing in cats.

1) Allergic Reactions:

Just like you, cats/kittens are also prone to allergic reactions. These allergic responses in cats can occur due to pollen grain sensitization, molds even cigarette and other irritants. These allergens irritate the respiratory airways of your cat and cause wheezing in her along with other symptoms. Try to minimize all factors which cause allergic wheezing in your cat. This is better to talk to a registered veterinarian. He/she can help you diagnosing the actual cause of wheezing.

2) Asthma:

This is one of the biggest reasons of wheezing in cats. Asthma basically affects the performance of the whole respiratory system of your beloved feline friend. Remember, feline asthma is common in cats (As it occurs in other mammals including humans).

Hint: Prolonged and so frequent wheezing is a clear indication of asthma attack. You should talk to your vet and get his recommendations in this regard.

3) Hairballs:

Hairballs are formed due to excessive accumulation of hair in the gastrointestinal tract of the cat. Incidence of hairball formation is usually greater in aggressive groomers (cats which aggressively groom themselves and shed hair). This problem is also common in those cats which excessively shed their hair. Cat wheezes when she tries to get hairball out of her mouth. So, this point should also be considered when diagnosing the cause of wheezing. Talk to your vet in this regard. He/she can suggest you the better solution to deal with this situation.

4) Stress/Anxiety:

These two are also important causes of wheezing in cats. This has been scientifically documented that stress/anxiety triggers the difficulty in breathing in cats. As a result of that, your cat experiences wheezing. Stress can be due to a number of different reasons such as environment-associated stress, separation anxiety, feed-associated stress etc. As a responsible owner this is your duty to reach the actual cause of stress. Try to minimize all factors which cause stress in your beloved furry friend. Keep friendly environment and pay lots of attention to your feline buddy.

5) Respiratory Distress:

There are several other conditions which affect the respiratory system of cats. Cat flu is one of them. It is a viral infection that causes coughing, watery eyes, runny nose , wheezing along with other mild to severe symptoms in your cat. If your cat is wheezing and you find the other symptoms (as discussed earlier), then talk to your veterinarian. Don’t ignore respiratory infections, as they can put your cat’s life in danger.

6) Foreign Objects:

Blockage of respiratory tract due to any foreign object can also cause wheezing in your cat. Report it immediately to your vet, if you observe that your cat has ingested some foreign object. ( Severity of dyspnea depends upon the extent of the respiratory tract blocked)

7) Parasitic Infestation:

There are several parasites which attack the lungs of your cat. For instance, cat lung worm ( Aelurostrongylus abstrusus) causes wheezing along with coughing, lack of appetite and poor growth in cats. This is better to talk to a registered veterinary practitioner in this regard.

8) Other causes:

There are several other reasons which lead to wheezing in cats. For example, tumors, laryngitis, trauma and other conditions which cause inflammation in the back of the throat. This results in difficult breathing and ultimately wheezing in cats.

Important points:

Here are some important points which you need to keep in mind. Don’t ignore the following things and report them to your vet as early as possible.

1) Continuous wheezing in cats

2) Mild episode of wheezing that lasts for longer period of time

3) Rapid wheezing and difficulty in breathing

4) Choking and coughing along with wheezing

5) Dullness/depression along with anorexia (lack of appetite)


What should I do if my cat is wheezing?

Seek veterinary attention as early as possible. Your vet can suggest inhaler and other medications (allergic medications, antibiotics- for infectious diseases, etc). Surgery can also be one the options, if there is severe blockage in the respiratory tract of your furry friend. In short, your vet can help you in better diagnosing the underlying cause of wheezing along with recommending a appropriate treatment plan.

Note: If your cat is diagnosed with wheezing due to stress and anxiety, give her lots of care and love. Remove her from stressful environment and try to keep her happy.

Frequently asked questions:

 –Does cat flu cause wheezing in cats?

Yes, it causes difficulty in breathing in felines along with wheezing.

-Does collection of fluid in cat’s lungs cause wheezing?

This is one of the main causes of wheezing in cats. Cats having fluid in lungs will experience open-mouth breathing, wheezing, increased respiratory rate, dyspnea (labored breathing), bluish discoloration of mucus membranes and skin etc.



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 Riggio, F., Mannella, R., Ariti, G. and Perrucci, S., 2013. Intestinal and lung parasites in owned dogs and cats from central Italy. Veterinary Parasitology193(1-3), pp.78-84.

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