What do cats exhale?

Pumping cats - explanation

In animals, "pumping" is the term used to describe extremely difficult breathing and even shortness of breath. Pumping cats are in a condition of concern and should be presented to a veterinarian immediately. Most of the time, the shortness of breath has serious and life-threatening causes.

What pumping breathing means in cats

  • Veterinarians understand an animal showing pumping breathing to mean the symptoms of moderate to severe shortness of breath. Usually, most pets have rather shallow, costo-abdominal breathing. This means that when you are at rest, the breathing movements start partly from the intercostal muscles and partly from the abdominal muscles. Breathing should be clearly visible, but not overly intense.
  • If there is an obstruction of breathing for whatever reason and thus a reduced penetration of air and thus oxygen into the lungs, the body tries to compensate for this deficit by deepening the breathing. This allows more air to get into the lungs. The intercostal muscles can only intensify their activity to a limited extent. In such cases, a major part of the breathing takes place via the abdominal muscles and leads to what is known as abdominal breathing (abdominal breathing). In severe shortness of breath, the abdominal muscles try to pump as much air as possible into the lungs despite the difficulty in breathing.
  • In order to optimize the air flow into the lungs, cats usually also open their mouths when breathing (mouth breathing) and no longer breathe exclusively through the nose, as is actually normal for cats.

Causes of pumping breathing in cats

  • There are many different causes of pumping breathing in cats. Common to all causes is usually a serious illness. If you notice the symptoms already described in your cat, it is urgent to show them to a veterinarian. Even if this occurs at night or on the weekend, you should immediately go to an on-duty veterinary clinic, as the pumping breathing can indicate a life-threatening condition.
  • If the symptoms appear very suddenly, v. a. then, when an outdoor cat comes home, there is a very good chance that the cat has had an accident. This can lead to internal injuries, which may rupture the diaphragm, or injure the lungs in the impact.
  • Difficulty breathing often occurs suddenly in a cat's typical heart disease. So-called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a creeping disease of the heart muscle, which in the long term leads to reduced cardiac output and thus to a poor oxygen supply in the body. The tricky thing is that cats can hide their health for a long time because the body tries to compensate for the physical consequences of the disease. Then, however, circulatory failure can occur very suddenly, which is often accompanied by pumping breathing.
  • The third, fairly common cause of more or less severe shortness of breath in cats is feline asthma. As with humans, the cramping of the airways leads to clear symptoms.

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