Do Cats Breathe Through Their Mouths? Do They Breathe Fast?

Although cats can breathe through their mouths, it is not normal for them to do so. Cats are meant to take long, slow breaths through their noses and they don’t breathe through their mouths unless something is wrong. Sometimes cats appear to be breathing through their mouths but they are actually engaging in instinctive cat behavior. Other times, it is a sign that something is wrong. Because breathing through the mouth can be a sign of a serious health problem, it is important to identify it right away.

Do Cats Breathe Fast?

Another question that people ask is, “Do cats breathe fast?” Cats do breathe faster than people. People take between 12 and 16 breaths per minute while cats take 20 to 30 breaths per minute. It may seem that your cat is breathing fast when it isn’t because it does breathe faster than you.

However, there are times when your cat’s breathing is even faster. Your cat can be in distress if that happens and you need to know how to recognize three types of fast breathing in cats.

What Makes a Cat Breathe Fast?

The first type is dyspnea, which is labored breathing. Your cat is having trouble breathing and you will see the cat’s belly and chest move with each breath. They might open their mouth and the breathing could be noisy. Their nostrils might flare and you might see your cat extending its head and neck.

Dyspnea can be caused by problems with the trachea, such as tumors, foreign objects that are obstructing the throat, or other obstructions. It can also be caused by a nasal disorder or an issue with the lungs or lower windpipe. Another cause can be heart failure. These are all serious health issues so if you notice that your cat has labored breathing, you should get to the vet.

Another cause of fast breathing in cats is tachypnea, which is rapid and shallow breathing. This type of breathing will usually have a few other symptoms that occur, including fatigue and a lack of oxygen, which causes a bluish tint to the cat’s gums and mucous membranes.

It can be caused by anemia, heartworms, hypoxemia, heart failure, and more. It can also be caused by a fever. Your cat will use this breathing to try to cool down. You may also notice that your cat breathes this way when it is nervous, such as if you are going on a drive.

Finally, your cat can be breathing fast if it is panting. This is nearly always a result of being overheated or the cat overexerting itself. Panting can be temporary or it can be the result of a serious underlying condition such as heart or lung disease.

What Makes a Cat Breathe Out of its Mouth?

While there are a few reasons why your cat may breathe through its mouth that are normal, there are many reasons that are serious and require immediate medical care. You need to be able to know when your cat needs urgent attention from a vet.

Cats will not breathe out of their mouths the way that people do; they might breathe out of the mouth if they are overheated because it helps to bring their body temperature down. However, if your cat is foaming at the mouth or has any signs of distress, you need to go to a vet.

One illness that can cause a cat to breathe out of its mouth is asthma. Asthma can be caused by allergies, heartworm disease, or other irritants. You might notice your cat breathing through its mouth, wheezing, and coughing. If you don’t get your cat treatment, you might notice its lips turning blue. You need to get your cat to a vet for an antihistamine treatment.

Another reason for your cat to breathe through its mouth is a buildup of fluid in its lungs. This can be caused by heart disease, lung infections, or cancer. It is often accompanied by foaming at the mouth.

Your cat could also be breathing through its mouth because it has heatstroke. If your cat is breathing through its mouth, drooling, and vomiting, this is cause for concern. You need to get the cat to a vet right away.

Your cat could also have an upper respiratory infection and if it does, you will notice sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, and a fever.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Having Trouble Breathing

If you notice your cat breathing through its mouth, it is important to be able to tell if something is wrong. You need to evaluate the situation and determine what is happening. If your cat has just been playing, its breathing should return to normal in a few minutes. It is likely breathing through its mouth to cool down and catch its breath.

However, if you notice anything unusual, such as your cat acting lethargic, foaming at the mouth, or having blue gums, there might be something seriously wrong. You should take your cat to the vet right away as this is a sign of a larger problem.

Why Cats Open Their Mouths

Although your cat can open its mouth to breathe, it is likely another reason. You should be able to tell by looking at your cat because your cat will have other symptoms if something is wrong. Your cat might open its mouth for other reasons. There are times when your cat will open its mouth because it smells something that it is interested in and it wants to take in more of the scent. Cats have scent glands in their mouths so your cat might open its mouth to draw the scent closer. Your cat will actually look as though it’s smelling the air so you should be able to identify this behavior.

What to Do If Your Cat Is Breathing Fast with its Mouth Open

If your cat is breathing fast with its mouth open, there is a good chance that something is wrong. You can spend a few minutes watching to see if it will relax but you likely need to go to the vet. If this is accompanied by foaming at the mouth, coughing, vomiting, or lethargic behavior, it could be a sign of something serious. Cats normally breathe through their noses and they don’t breathe through their mouths except in unusual circumstances. Offer your cat some water in case it is overheated but if it doesn’t stop quickly, you should go to the vet.

Final Thoughts

People often wonder, “Do cats breathe through their mouths?” The answer is that they do not. They almost always breathe through their noses unless there is something wrong. Your cat could have overexerted itself and it could be panting to try to cool down. It might need some water if it has gotten too hot. However, you will want to have your vet check your cat in case it is suffering from heatstroke.

If you see your cat breathing fast through its mouth, it could be something serious, and it might need medical attention right away. The types of conditions that cause a cat to breathe through its mouth can be very serious, so make an appointment to take your cat to the vet.