Why Is My Cat Wheezing?


It can be very unsettling to hear your cat wheezing, and you might be wondering if it's a cause for concern. Often, wheezing is the result of mild irritation or allergies. However, it's important to rule out more serious medical issues that may require medical attention. 

cat in window

If you notice your cat displaying signs of respiratory distress—wheezing, coughing, labored breathing—take your cat to the vet right away. It’s important to rule out any issues that require immediate attention. 

What Causes Wheezing in Cats? 

Wheezing in cats can be a sign of a deeper health issue, including some of the following:

  • Asthma 
  • Cardiovascular issues 
  • Respiratory infection
  • Heartworms 
  • Stress
  • Airway blockage
  • Lung Cancer 
  • Fungal lung infection
  • Pneumonia

It's important to take your cat to the vet if you notice any difficulty breathing. If your vet rules out larger health issues, your cat may be wheezing as a result of these less serious issues:

  • Allergies
  • Hairballs 
  • Dry throat 
two cats in a window

When is Wheezing in Cats Cause for Concern?

As mentioned above, if your cat demonstrates any signs of respiratory distress such as wheezing, it’s a good idea to take them to your vet. However, if you notice your cat wheezing and then coughing up a hairball shortly after, it’s likely that the wheezing was the result of a hairball. 

The same can be said for mild irritants that can cause your cat to wheeze, such as a dry throat or contact with dusty air. If your cat’s wheezing is an isolated incident and you can pinpoint the cause, it likely isn’t cause for concern. 

Keep an eye out for the following scenarios to know when it’s time to take your cat to the vet:

  • Coughing or choking sounds 
  • Blue tint to the gums
  • Labored breathing or rapid breathing
  • Lethargy 
  • Continued wheezing without dispelling a hairball 
  • Mild, prolonged wheezing 
  • Refusal to eat or drink 
  • Irregular bathroom usage 

Once your vet determines the cause of your cat’s wheezing, they can work with you to administer the proper treatment. 

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