please help - cat breathing issues and no vets can find out why

hillyy13

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Hi everyone,

I am at a total loss on what's causing Cecil's breathing issue. Occasionally, when he's very relaxed and purring, he starts doing drawn-out breaths that sound a bit whistly. When it's at its worst, his mouth opens, his tongue comes out and he sort of sticks his head forward then back. It seems to me as though he's having trouble breathing. If I pick him up and move him, he will stop purring and his breathing goes back to normal.

We took him to the emergency vet and she did a full check over, as well as an an ultrasound on his lungs, and couldn't find any issue. She put it down to him being a persian - but even if that's the case, it doesn't seem like something I should just not worry about/try and treat.

I have since taken him to two other vets, had his blood pressure checked and heart listened to and they have both said they don't know what's causing it. I thought it could be from his CKD medication that lowers blood pressure (his BP was 100) but we have since stopped it and it happened the worst it ever has happened last night!

Every time it happens it's really scary, not to mention I'm going away in two days and terrified of leaving him with a friend. Does anyone have any idea as to what I should do next? I have a video if helpful, I just need to figure out how to upload it!
 

di and bob

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Persians are known for breathing difficulties, I would have his nose and sinuses looked at for structural abnormalities. sometimes surgery can help open the nasal passages. Cats have a hard time breathing through their mouth, so any obstruction in their nose could cause breathing problems as you describe. He could have real problems with a URI, or even allergies that would stuff up his nose, I would get some 'Nose Relief' on Amazon and keep it around, it really helps with my cats. You might start him on DMG, it supports their immune systems and prevents a lot of upper respiratory problems which cats are notorious for. All the luck! PS many people on this site have Persians, even breed some, so I hope they come on and help! posiepurrs posiepurrs is one of them.
 
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hillyy13

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Thank you so much for the reply!

When I'm back from my holidays I will schedule him in to get his airways looked at. I'll also look into those supplements as they sound very helpful.

My mind has been in overdrive from his eposide last night and I have a few possible thoughts on what else could be causing it, but it's so hard to know for sure!

1. He had rhinitis as a kitten (more presented as a runny nose and sneezing) but the vet did say chronic rhinitis sometimes never fully goes away. Could this be a new 'variant' of the rhinitis appearing 2 years later?

2. His RBC has been consistently low for the last few blood tests and I worry that anemia could cause these breathing issues?

3. I read that worms can cause breathing issues - he hasn't been wormed for a while (I didn't realise indoor cats needed it) so maybe I'll look into deworming him?

I would love to hear from some other persian owners!

Persians are known for breathing difficulties, I would have his nose and sinuses looked at for structural abnormalities. sometimes surgery can help open the nasal passages. Cats have a hard time breathing through their mouth, so any obstruction in their nose could cause breathing problems as you describe. He could have real problems with a URI, or even allergies that would stuff up his nose, I would get some 'Nose Relief' on Amazon and keep it around, it really helps with my cats. You might start him on DMG, it supports their immune systems and prevents a lot of upper respiratory problems which cats are notorious for. All the luck! PS many people on this site have Persians, even breed some, so I hope they come on and help! posiepurrs posiepurrs is one of them.
 

di and bob

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'Rhinitis' is almost always Feline Herpes. VERY common, like a common cold in humans, and not transferrable to humans. Since I have been giving the DMG, my cats have been rhinitis free, for over three years now. They got it a couple of times a year before. Hope it helps.
 

neely

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I don't know how much help I can be but we have had three Persian cats. The first almost didn't make it when anesthetized for a neuter procedure. That was a long time ago and since then I did my research and discovered what type of anesthesia is best for brachycephalic breeds because they are more susceptible to breathing issues. Our present boy is a doll faced Persian so fortunately has not had any breathing difficulties. I realize this doesn't answer your immediate concerns but just wanted to mention it should your kitty require anesthesia in the future. As mentioned above I'm sure posiepurrs posiepurrs will be able to offer her advice. Best of luck, please keep us updated on your cat. :alright:
 
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catmando2

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Did the vet rule out hyperthyroidism? My cat got diagnosed with that recently and one of the symptoms is the shortness of breath. Panting, sticking his tongue out (like a dog) to catch his breath.
 
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hillyy13

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Did the vet rule out hyperthyroidism? My cat got diagnosed with that recently and one of the symptoms is the shortness of breath. Panting, sticking his tongue out (like a dog) to catch his breath.
I spoke to the vet and he ruled out hyperthyroidism, his T4 number was actually on the low side!
 
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hillyy13

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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
I don’t know if your vet tested for cardiac problems, but I would suggest it to him.
When we took Cecil to the emergency vets for his breathing the first time, she did an ultrasound on his lungs to check for fluid. The vet said his lungs were clear, so I'm hoping this doesn't point to it HCM (as it says symptoms come from fluid on the lungs). But I will ask again for sure!
 

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Hi -- have you had a chance to get a video of the issue? Sometimes that can be helpful for a vet to see/hear things.
 
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hillyy13

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Hi -- have you had a chance to get a video of the issue? Sometimes that can be helpful for a vet to see/hear things.
Hi furballsmom, we showed the vet a video yesterday but he didn’t seem concerned. He said it was likely due to him being a persian. I’m wondering how I can attach a video on here? It’s not the worst he’s sounded but at least I managed to get it!
 

SiberianCat

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That sounds like feline asthma or chronic bronchitis to me (one of my cat has it). Lung x-ray can confirm it. There are medicines for this condition.
 

Jem

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Going outside the box here...but acid reflux and esophagitis can present itself with breathing difficulties. If esophagitis, you would most likely see other symptoms relating to eating issues, but acid reflux may not present itself with much other than possibly vomiting or regurgitation...which many don't pay much attention to due to thinking it's "just hairballs" especially if it doesn't happen all the time.

I also second getting his nose/sinuses checked. My kitty has severe chronic rhinosinusitis, so much so that all the "protective and filtration" membranes of the entire left side of his sinus cavities are gone. Basically, the whole left side of his nose is a giant cave where everything gets in and can fester making him prone to further infection and of course he's always got snot and debris that he sneezes out daily. When we had x-rays done, because we just couldn't get his infection under control when we adopted him...that's when we found out that he wasn't simply dealing with feline herpes flair ups. He was sick for a long time prior to us adopting him and spent time on the street, so who knows how long he was sick for...obviously it was long enough for the inflammation to eat away at his sinuses.
What the x-rays also showed was a small tumor, formed by scar tissue from the inflammation as well as a deviated septum.
Thankfully, since we finally managed to eradicate the infection he has not had any since...but we will always have to deal with his lovely snot rocket projectiles as his body eliminates all the allergens and debris that get up there.
In our boy, it's a pretty severe case but from what you said about his past infections...and the fact that he's Persian, a milder obstruction could pose a bigger problem for him.
 
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hillyy13

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Going outside the box here...but acid reflux and esophagitis can present itself with breathing difficulties. If esophagitis, you would most likely see other symptoms relating to eating issues, but acid reflux may not present itself with much other than possibly vomiting or regurgitation...which many don't pay much attention to due to thinking it's "just hairballs" especially if it doesn't happen all the time.

I also second getting his nose/sinuses checked. My kitty has severe chronic rhinosinusitis, so much so that all the "protective and filtration" membranes of the entire left side of his sinus cavities are gone. Basically, the whole left side of his nose is a giant cave where everything gets in and can fester making him prone to further infection and of course he's always got snot and debris that he sneezes out daily. When we had x-rays done, because we just couldn't get his infection under control when we adopted him...that's when we found out that he wasn't simply dealing with feline herpes flair ups. He was sick for a long time prior to us adopting him and spent time on the street, so who knows how long he was sick for...obviously it was long enough for the inflammation to eat away at his sinuses.
What the x-rays also showed was a small tumor, formed by scar tissue from the inflammation as well as a deviated septum.
Thankfully, since we finally managed to eradicate the infection he has not had any since...but we will always have to deal with his lovely snot rocket projectiles as his body eliminates all the allergens and debris that get up there.
In our boy, it's a pretty severe case but from what you said about his past infections...and the fact that he's Persian, a milder obstruction could pose a bigger problem for him.
Sorry for the late response, I’ve been away! That is actually such a good point regarding acid reflux - he quite often gags and makes funny noises after he’s eaten. It could be linked. How do you treat that?!
 

Jem

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How do you treat that?!
First you would need the vet to do some testing to see what exactly is going on. I would assume a scope and x-ray or ultrasound. Is it just reflux, or is there damage or inflammation of the esophagus as I'm sure the treatment would be different depending on what it is. Also, you wouldn't want to start any kind of acid reflux medication IF there is no issues as that could lead to stomach problems...you don't want to introduce acid reducers if the acid levels are normal...you need that acid to digest food so if it's too low, then digestion would become a problem. There are probably a few different acid reflux meds for cats...as there are in humans. Some simply create a barrier so it doesn't come back up and others suppresses production or neutralizes the acid. But then then there is a possibility that reflux is caused by a physical problem....so the possibilities need to be diagnosed by the vet first...you don't want to treat the wrong thing and make it worse.
 
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