How to check your cat's breathing at home

  • Mochi
  • September 17, 2023

Monitoring your cat's breathing is essential for detecting respiratory issues or other underlying health problems. Here's a guide on how to check your cat's breathing at home:


  • Position: Ensure your cat is in a relaxed state, preferably lying down but awake. Avoid checking right after play or exercise, as the breathing rate might be elevated.
  • Counting: Watch your cat's chest rise and fall. One rise and fall counts as one breath. Use a stopwatch or your phone to time a full minute and count the number of breaths during that time.

Normal Breathing Rate

  • Resting Rate: A typical resting or sleeping respiratory rate for cats is between 20-30 breaths per minute. However, this can vary slightly based on the individual cat.

Check Breathing Quality

  • Effort: Breathing should appear effortless. If your cat seems to be working hard to breathe, with its abdomen moving more than usual, it could be a sign of distress.
  • Noise: While occasional noises can be normal, consistent wheezing, rasping, or other unusual sounds can indicate respiratory issues.
  • Mouth Breathing: Cats typically breathe through their noses. If your cat is breathing through its mouth, especially if it's open-mouth breathing, it's often a sign of respiratory distress and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Check for Other Signs

  • Posture: Cats in respiratory distress might sit with their elbows spread apart and their neck extended. They might also refuse to lie down.
  • Behavior: Look for signs of lethargy, reduced appetite, or coughing.
  • Gum Color: Gently pull back your cat's lip and check the color of the gums. They should be pink. Pale, blue, or gray gums can indicate a lack of oxygen and require immediate veterinary attention.


  • Regular Checks: Make it a routine to check your cat's breathing rate and quality every few weeks or if you suspect any issues.
  • Avoid Stress: Stress can elevate the breathing rate. Ensure your cat is calm when checking.
  • Record Keeping: Maintain a log of your cat's regular breathing rate. This can help you notice any deviations over time.
  • Consultation: If you notice any abnormalities, changes, or signs of distress, consult with a veterinarian immediately. Respiratory issues can escalate quickly, so timely intervention is crucial.

Remember, while home checks are valuable for early detection of potential issues, they don't replace professional examinations. Regular veterinary check-ups will ensure a comprehensive assessment of your cat's respiratory health.