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Possible breathing problems, but vet says my cat is OK?

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.

  
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Oblio

790427
 
 
Purred: Thu Dec 1, '11 4:27pm PST 
This problem originally began with what sounded like congestion when my cat was purring, which went on for about a month before I made a vet appointment, and my vet said nothing seemed out of the ordinary and suggested I use a humidifier since dry air could be causing the problem. Since that appointment my cat seemed to be breathing harder than usual, though his respiratory rate was still normal. I could see his stomach and chest moving as he breathed when he was lying down, but not when sitting up. It seemed to worsen slightly until the night before last, when his stomach and chest were moving even when sitting up and I could see that he was using his abdominal muscles in breathing. He was acting completely normal the entire time, being his usual self, eating and drinking as normal, etc., but I was very concerned since I'd heard abdominal breathing was a bad sign, so I took him to the emergency vet.

At the emergency vet, they did a physical exam, listened to his heart and lungs, and did a chest x-ray. The vet told me that everything came back normal, his lungs and heart sounded fine, and that the x-ray showed nothing except possible mild inflammation, which could be the beginning of asthma or could be nothing (her words.) She offered a blood test, which would be very expensive there compared to at my normal vet, but said that she expected the results of the test to come back normal. I asked if she thought I should get the test done and she said that if it was her cat, she probably wouldn't, since she did not expect to find anything. Because of this I opted not to get the blood test at that time. I took the cat back home with no further tests.

My cat is still acting totally normal but I can't help but be worried. His side is just moving much more than it used to when he breathes. He isn't wheezing or anything, and I have never seen him pant or breath with his mouth open, but it's hard to tell if he is making any noise while breathing because he is an always-purring cat (he's always been this way) and the sound of the purring drowns out any other sounds there might be. His breathing is within the normal range for cats, but a little on the high end (around 30-45 breaths per minute which the vet said was normal.) The only other thing I've noticed is he seems to be licking his lips more than usual but his eating and drinking habits remain the same, and he seems to be using the litter box as much as usual.

He does not seem to be in any pain and is still playful. However I am concerned that the vet didn't see the extent of his abdominal breathing, since it's most evident when he is lying down. I explained the problem in detail to the vet but she didn't seem very concerned about it. She kept referring to it as "a little bit of abdominal involvement" but it seems like more than a little to me. I don't know why he would breathe better while at the vet's though, since I'm sure he was stressed.

Do you think I should get the blood work done at my regular vet's? I don't have much money, especially this time of year, so I don't want to pay for tests which I was basically told by an experienced vet were unnecessary, but I can't help but worry that something is wrong. Maybe I am being paranoid. Does anyone here know of cats with mild asthma that have no symptoms other than heavier breathing? He has never coughed, wheezed, panted or breathed with his mouth open that I am aware of. I am not sure if I should be worried or not. Thanks!
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Oblio

790427
 
 
Purred: Thu Dec 1, '11 4:30pm PST 
I forgot to add that he is 6 years old, a normal weight, and otherwise in good health. His only previous health problem was an incident 3 years ago where he ate some lily petals and had to be hospitalized for a few days. However, he came back home no worse for wear and has had no health issues since then.
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Oblio

790427
 
 
Purred: Thu Dec 1, '11 5:45pm PST 
Just tonight I have noticed that he is sometimes sitting/lying with his arms tucked beneath him and his head and neck flat against the ground, which I heard was a sign that he's trying to get more air in. He looks comfortable as he's doing it though. He will still lie on his side at times but has not been lying on his back or curled up with his stomach showing that I can remember in the last couple of days.
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Sammie

little stinker
 
 
Purred: Thu Dec 1, '11 7:27pm PST 
the only advice we have is try to take a video of him breathing the way you described, and show it to your vet.
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Sootball

I am so cute,- scratch my belly- mol
 
 
Purred: Thu Dec 1, '11 8:22pm PST 
I would have to agree with Sammie. Get a video on your phone and take it in with you. Also you may want to see a different Vet. Best of luck and please keep us all informed as to what you find out!
hug
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Oblio

790427
 
 
Purred: Fri Dec 2, '11 7:08am PST 
Well, I called my regular vet this morning and the soonest appointment they have is Tuesday evening. I hope that is soon enough because I really cannot afford to take him to the emergency vet again. Just to clarify, the vet who I spoke to who told me the blood tests weren't necessary was the vet at the emergency center, not my regular vet. Hopefully my regular vet will get to the bottom of this because he is very well-regarded and knowledgeable about cats (it's a vet office only for cats, no other animals.) I took some videos and will show him when I see him, and get the blood work done. I just hope my little kitty is OK! He seems like he might be more tired than usual today but it's hard to say because cats sleep so much to begin with. He's still alert when awake though and his eyes look normal.
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Sammie

little stinker
 
 
Purred: Fri Dec 2, '11 10:33am PST 
if you are really worried, try to stop by or call your vet today or sat, and see if you can show them the video, they might be able to get you in earlier if he thinks its serious, its worth a shot.
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Oblio

790427
 
 
Purred: Mon Dec 5, '11 5:51pm PST 
Well, I took him to the vet today and the vet said he was too upset to safely draw blood. So I basically brought him in for nothing. I am very frustrated right now because I was told to take him BACK to the emergency vet for the blood work. I am getting bounced back and forth and paying fees I can't afford and I am starting to doubt that any of these vets know what they are doing. I don't even know if it's actually necessary and none of the vets have given me a straight answer. I showed my vet the videos but he didn't really respond in any way. I can't tell if the reactions of the vets mean that they think I'm worked up over nothing, or what?? Neither of them have seemed very concerned, but I still don't understand why my cat would be breathing this way if nothing was wrong. I am at my wit's end.
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Ralphie & Randy

1201140
 
 
Purred: Mon Dec 5, '11 6:13pm PST 
I'm so sorry you and Oblio have to go through this. How terribly frustrating. You mention multiple fees - is your vet billing you for a full appointment when the purpose of the appointment is not accomplished? He won't draw blood and won't give an opinion after viewing your video, but is still charging you? That, combined with the long wait time for an appointment in the first place, would cause me concern if it were one of my cats. The vet may have a good reputation and may very well be knowledgable about cats, but if he isn't giving you the full benefit of that expertise and is billing you anyway, it may be time for another opinion. A vet doesn't have to be feline-only to be skilled with cats, and I would hope you would be able to find one who is more compassionate and a better communicator.

I wish you and Oblio well, and I hope you find out what's going on! Please post updates.
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Sammie

little stinker
 
 
Purred: Tue Dec 6, '11 3:56pm PST 
time to think about looking into a new vet, sounds like your vet may not be too concerned about how you feel either. good luck.
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