Raspy Cat Breathing - Pharynx Bacterial Infection?

by Michael Brand
(Grapevine, TX)

Reader Question: I have a 14 year old female tortoiseshell calico cat who has had a breathing problem for months now. She has a raspy sound when breathing, and she's obviously straining to breathe. It's worse when she's purring, but less pronounced when she's calm and still. She takes Tapazole for a hyperthyroid problem and eats Prescription Diet k/d for kidney balance. Our vet did some tests and believes she has a bacterial infection in her larynx. When she makes the snoring, raspy sound when breathing, it sounds like it's coming from her nasal cavity, but when I feel her throat the sounds feels like it's in her throat area.

Our vet has tried Chlorpheniramine, Chlorpro, Aminophylline, and Cyproheptadine, and saline nebulizer treatments, but nothing has alleviated her problems. She has no nasal or eye discharge, doesn't sneeze or cough, and is otherwise healthy and behaving normally. I worry each night that she won't wake up in the morning.

I'm trying to find out from the vet what type of bacteria she found in her larynx, but in the meantime, has anyone had experience this and does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
Michael Brand
Grapevine, TX

Cat Health Guide Editor Comment:

A cat breathing problem can occur for various reasons, but as you mentioned, your cat doesn’t show any symptoms such as sneezing, cough, discharge or other similar symptoms that are related to infections or inflammatory problems.

The symptoms you describe can also occur due to a sort of allergy, so this should be excluded by your veterinarian as a possible cause.

Snoring and raspy sounds while breathing or purring without any of the symptoms mentioned above are usually caused by some sort of blockage. Accumulation of fat around the throat, the dilation of the throat muscles and problems related to an anatomical malfunction of the larynx and throat muscles might cause the breathing symptoms you describe.

As far as bacterial infection in the larynx is concerned, it might be in its very initial stages. Your cat has not yet exhibited any of the symptoms related to this type of infection.

Some of the drugs that you administered are bronchodilators (Aminophylline) while others are anti histaminic drugs. I fear bronchodilators might have only worsened the condition, though they are necessary for clearing any throat blockage.

We'd suggest that you get detailed X-Rays of the throat. This will reveal any throat problems or the accumulation of any fatty substances.

The X-Rays would suggest what kind of specific treatment your cat might need i.e. surgery, mandibular splints or any other therapeutic option. Note that Mandibular splints is a type of Dental/Oral device used for different purposes such as the treatment of anatomical disorders of the mandibular joint and for snoring as well. It pushes the lower jaw outwards, which causes a stretch in the muscles of the throat. Tightening the throat/laryngeal muscles can help to control raspy sounds/snoring. For pets, it is relatively difficult to use and is annoying. Also, if needed ask your veterinarian about administering antibiotics for any developing throat infection.

In the case of your cat, Natural remedies such as AmazaPet and/or Get more info on Respo-K might be a better option to control any nasal and throat blockage or symptoms like snoring and raspy sounds.

Comments for Raspy Cat Breathing - Pharynx Bacterial Infection?

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Feb 15, 2010
by: CatLovr in NC

My tortise shell cat has the very same symptoms. She sometimes maybe every other day or so for a short period of time will breath and sound like she is snoring. No dishcarge, runny nose or eyes and eats just as usual. I have switched cat litter to Feline Pine and just started giving her AmazaPet. I was glad to see that was recommended. I do not want to go to vets and have them pump her full of medicine that may not help at all. I am going to see the effect of the Amazapet. It is all natural and most ingredients are for inflammation and to clear air passages. She takes them no problem, eats them along with her treats. Hope it works.

Dec 30, 2009
Little Noses
by: Michael Brand

My vet assured me that this one is safe for cats in the dosage prescribed for just those 3 days. We repeated it a week later, but neither it nor anything else that we've tried has worked.

We took our cat to a specialist yesterday intending to get a CAT scan, but she needs updated bloodtests to determine if her thyroid and kidney levels are healthy enough to endure the anesthesia. The specialist says finding bacteria in her throat is nothing conclusive or out of the ordinary. Our cat still continues to have trouble breathing in, and the vibration/sound can clearly be felt on her throat. Fortunately the problem subsides when she's still and resting, but not 100% of the time.

I've continued to search online for information about her condition and possible treatment, but there's not much information available. Some of the symptoms of nasopharyngeal polyps or collapsed trachea are the same, but not all of them, and they're not all for felines.

Dec 30, 2009
Little Noses
by: Anonymous

Concerning the use of " Little Noses " on cats, Am I right in thinking that this product is actually for small children, and if so is it safe to use a medication meant for humans, on animals. I know that some human medicines are poisonus to animals. this is my only concern.

Dec 29, 2009
Raspy breathing from cat.
by: Vivien

Just a tiny comment, make sure also that your cat is free from Hair Balls, as this can affect one of mine, its such a worry isn't it. Do hope that you manage to get it sorted out - your affection for your cat comes over very clear, and being an animal lover myself I can understand. - best of luck with problem. vivien.

Dec 14, 2009
by: Michael Brand

Thanks for the advice. Actinomyces is the name of the bacteria that the vet says has infected her throat. Per the vet, we had her on one drop per day of "Little Noses" decongestant for children, the medicated version. We put one drop in one nostril on day 1, then the other on day 2, and were told to stop it on day 3. She had a slight improvement in her breathing problem during that time, if any. It's tempting to administer more but were advised against it.

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