Cat Exhaling Out of His Mouth

by Jennifer
(Pittsburgh, PA)

Picture of Cat with Upper Respiratory Infection

Picture of Cat with Upper Respiratory Infection


I have a 13 year old male cat who is overweight. In spite of his weight, he has a good energy level, is very curious, and has a normal appetite & thirst level. We feed him Blue Buffalo dry food and some wet canned food for every meal. We have not seen any problems with him before this.

Yesterday, he started making puffing noises out of his mouth. He does not do this when he sleeps or is resting but when he is awake, whether standing or sitting, or having just walked somewhere, when he exhales, his breath comes out his mouth, causing his cheeks to puff out. He does not seem in pain or to have any disorientation or sluggishness. He has no discharge from mouth, nose, or other areas and seems to have the same appetite.

He has also sneezed a few times in the last few days while awake. And he licks his lips a lot like he has just eaten peanut butter, especially after eating. This is new and doesn't seem to be a satisfied-just-ate-a-good-meal kind of lip smacking. But again, he doesn't seem in pain.

With what little I have to go on, what do you think this might be and what do you recommend we do to help our little buddy?

Thank you,


Vet Suggestion on Signs of a Cat Respiratory Problem

Hello Jennifer,

Changes in a cat’s respiratory rate, pattern, or effort can be a sign of a very serious problem like a respiratory infection, cardiovascular disease, or asthma. I’m afraid I can’t give you much information about what is most likely in your cat’s situation without first examining him, but I strongly recommend you get him in to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

It is, of course, a good sign that he seems normal otherwise, but his overall condition might rapidly deteriorate without a timely diagnosis and treatment.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Feb 20, 2013
Cat Cold Update
by: Jennifer

Thank you. Concerned for his health & comfort, we took Jordan to the veterinarian the day after I posted my question to this forum. He was examined and treated for a kitty cold. The doctor said that many cats were brought in that week for colds due to the drop in barometric pressure that accompanied our unseasonable weather last fall. Cats, he told me, are particularly sensitive to such changes. We were given prescription medication, a l-lysine supplement, & instructions to keep him hydrated and warm. After a long recuperation time with extra care and love, he got better. He was talking again and was his usual energetic and curious self. We were cautious, but relieved that he felt better again.

A week later, he unexpectedly took a turn for the worst and, in spite of the best vet care & love we had, it wasn't enough. He died in my arms at the animal hospital. It was a week before Christmas. We are heartbroken.

My advice to anyone reading this is to get immediate - IMMEDIATE! - care for your little buddy, even if you are told it is just a cold. Make your friend as comfortable as you can, note any changes in their appetite & thirst (you'll need it for the doctors), and do your very best. Also important: Have ample credit (regular credit & Care Credit) and/or cash on hand for veterinary care as there may, suddenly, be extra services you may not anticipate but that you want to take advantage of to care for your friend. I wish for you & your little friend all the best. Be happy & well.

Oct 25, 2014
What was the diagnosis?
by: Anonymous

My little fellow is already being treated (lymphatic cancer) and has upper respiratory congestion. I am trying to keep him comfortable and alive until his visit Tuesday (force feeding, sub cu fluids, steam showers). He just started puffing out his mouth...I am not sure if that means he can't breath or that he can?

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