It's been 48 hours since my cat, a first-time mother, gave birth to 2 kittens. She breathes normally much of the time, but quite often I notice she begins to breathe rapidly. This occurs while nursing.

I looked this up, and there are more than five Google results with people all asking about this exact situation. However, surprisingly, I haven't seen a single answer that is any way conclusive or explanatory or expert, or from experience after seeing an expert.

I'm planning on taking the cat to the vet on Monday, don't worry, but considering the considerable volume of people asking about this specific situation (a new mother breathing fast), I assume it's a specific, non-isolated problem, which probably has a single common cause.

Does anyone have experience with this? If no one does, I suppose I'll self-answer tomorrow after a visit to the vet.

  • How fast is her breathing rate (count breaths in a minute). When my cat had heart disease we were instructed to take him to an emergency vet if he had more than 40 bpm (and extra medication over 30 bpm).
    – Zaralynda
    Feb 28, 2016 at 13:02
  • Also, related question (about a non-mother cat) pets.stackexchange.com/questions/8034/…
    – Zaralynda
    Feb 28, 2016 at 13:03
  • Are you seeing any other odd behaviors? Restlessness? Signs she isn't mothering as expected? Walking stiffly?
    – Joanne C
    Feb 28, 2016 at 14:36
  • @JohnCavan No she's mothering as expected, eating, drinking, but taking about 100 rapid breaths per minute.
    – J.Todd
    Feb 28, 2016 at 20:22
  • 2
    Could be a minor calcium deficiency. It's not common, but for first litter it can happen. Not a diagnosis, or an answer, but good to get her looked at. If it is that, it'll probably be a problem in future pregnancies.
    – Joanne C
    Feb 28, 2016 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


Well, not your specific case, but since you asked about common causes...

A very common cause is postpartum low blood calcium, otherwise known as milk fever. Signs of this include rapid breathing, amongst many others, and while it is rare for felines, they are at higher risk for it during their first litter. In such cases, medical attention is very likely needed, especially if they show signs of stiffness, ignoring the kittens, and other behavior changes that are really out of character. It is very treatable if dealt with quickly.

  • Actually, the medicine didnt make her any better, called the vet and he said he thinks it may be a structural problem due to the pregnancy, going in this afternoon.
    – J.Todd
    Mar 5, 2016 at 20:31
  • 1
    @Viziionary - sorry to hear that. :( hopefully she'll be alright, but I would look at having her spayed later.
    – Joanne C
    Mar 5, 2016 at 21:27

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