My cat is breathing fast (and occasionally panting with an open mouth). It's not associated with exercise (he's just sitting on the couch)

What could be the cause of this?

  • 2
    (This happened yesterday, so don't worry he's already been to the vet! I just wanted to write about it!)
    – Zaralynda
    Apr 13, 2015 at 19:02
  • 1
    It's perfectly fine to write a question and answer it. It can help other people looking for answers. I'm not a vet or any other kind of expert, but I've read more than once that panting within us apparent reason isn't normal for cats. Good luck! Apr 14, 2015 at 2:18

1 Answer 1


I watched him for a few minutes (to determine that he hadn't just run across the room or something) and he continued to breathe fast. So I packed him up and drove to the emergency vet.

The emergency vet told me that Hunter was seriously ill and it's a good thing I brought him in. They put him in an enclosure with increased oxygen to help him breathe more efficiently while they did testing and determined what the problem was.

The radiologist determined from a chest x-ray that Hunter was having congestive heart failure. In this disease, the heart is not pumping blood efficiently, and fluid will accumulate in his heart and lungs. Symptoms of congestive heart failure include:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Fainting
  • Reduced Ability to Exercise
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Behavior Changes
  • Rear Limb Weakness

(source: Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University)

If we had not taken him to the veterinarian for treatment he may have died.

The vets gave him medication to reduce the fluid in his heart and lungs and were able to wean him off the oxygen the next morning. I will be able to take him home tonight (24 hours after the incident), and will have to continue to give him these medications.

I also need to make a cardiologist appointment so we can determine what the cause of the problem was and determine the best long term treatment for Hunter.

  • 2
    Good luck on your cat's continued good health.  Just to back up you experience: my cat had a heart murmur caused by a heart defect, and her cardiologist warned me to keep an eye on her respiration rate, as an increased rate could indicate that the heart condition had worsened. Apr 13, 2015 at 22:26
  • Good to hear he turned up alright, and a wise decicion you made to take him early. I appreciate people like you. Thanks for being there. :) Jul 27, 2017 at 16:55

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