Maine Coons are the world’s largest cats, and because of their immense size, many cat enthusiasts share a common question: do Maine Coons breathe heavy?
In this article, you will learn how Maine Coons breathe normally and about heavy breathing in Maine Coons.
Normally, Maine Coons breathe silently and at a steady rate of about 30 to 35 breaths per minute. However, sometimes their breathing rate can increase above normal, and usually, it is due to respiratory problems and cardiac issues such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
If you own a Maine Coon and are wondering why your cat is breathing heavy, you have come to the right place.
In this article we have put together a comprehensive explanation of why Maine Coons breathe heavily, as well as treatments and causes, so keep reading!
The information within this article has been cross-checked and approved by Dr. Abdul Basit Javed DVM, RVMP (small animal veterinarian).
Do Maine Coons Breathe Heavy?
The Maine Coon is a large, rugged cat that is also the world’s largest domesticated cat breed.
Despite their large size Maine Coons are considered gentle giants and are rarely aggressive. Instead, they have reputation for being playful, gentle, and friendly cats.
Maine Coons like to follow their owners everywhere around the house, observing what they are doing.
These cats are ideal for families with children due to their lively attitude, natural patience, and love of playing.
It takes a lot of effort to tire a Maine Coon cat out, as they seldom get tired. However, you might still notice your Maine Coon breathing heavily sometimes and wonder why this is.
So let’s investigate the subject more closely!
Cats have a very subtle respiratory style, and they breathe in such a calm and comfortable manner that you may not notice that their chest cavity is expanding and relaxing.
Cat’s Respiratory Rate
A cat’s normal respiratory rate is between 20 and 30 breaths per minute.
However, because the Maine Coon is a large cat with a thick coat, up to 35 breaths per minute occasionally is considered normal.
If your Maine Coon consistently breathes more than 35 times per minute, you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Maine Coon Cat Breathing
Under normal circumstances, Maine Coons do not breathe heavily. Instead, Maine Coons have a very calm respiratory rhythm and breathe silently.
Many people assume that because Maine Coons are the largest domestic cats, they must breathe heavily, but this is not the case.
However, their breathing rate may be slightly higher than that of most ordinary cats due to their larger size which means they require more oxygen and thus must breathe more frequently.
It is important to understand at this point that having a higher breathing rate has nothing to do with a Maine Coon’s heavy breathing.
When Is Heavy Breathing Normal?
Maine Coons have a very playful nature, and when they are breathing heavy, it is usually after a lengthy session of playing or after exercise when they are exhausted.
It is natural for a Maine Coon to breathe heavily in the following occurrences:
- Strenuous physical activities
- The heat
- Too cold
The cat’s breathing rate will return to normal after a few minutes as the oxygen levels in the blood rise.
However, if you see your Maine Coon breathing heavily all the time, even when relaxing or sleeping, this is cause for concern.
Heavy breathing in this instance is usually due to a respiratory or circulatory system problem.
9 Signs Of Heavy Breathing In Maine Coon Cats
If you are wondering why is my Maine Coon breathing heavy, or how can you tell if a cat is breathing heavily, keep reading to learn the warning signs.
The following are some signs of heavy breathing in Maine Coons:
One of the most prevalent signs of heavy breathing in Maine Coons is panting.
Panting is not as common in Maine Coons as it is in dogs; in fact, most cats never pant in their daily life.
If you notice your Maine Coon panting, it is most likely because your cat is suffering from:
- Is scared
- Health issues e.g. cardiac disease or a respiratory problem and is gasping for air.
Snoring is rare in healthy Maine Coons. It usually occurs as a result of respiratory problems and is considered a sign of heavy breathing in cats.
The snoring sound is most noticeable when your Maine Coon is resting or sleeping.
Maine Coon nasal issues that typically cause snoring include:
- Nasal polyps
- Cat’s nasal passage is blocked by a foreign object or parasite.
3. Open-Mouth Breathing Or Abdominal Breathing
Open-mouth breathing, labored breathing, or abdominal breathing are all considered signs of heavy breathing in Maine Coons.
It is very concerning when a cat is breathing using its abdominal muscles rather than its chest muscles (intercostal muscles).
These signs of heavy breathing mostly occur if your Maine Coon is suffering from a respiratory condition, such as:
Tachypnea is the technical term used for rapid breathing in cats or increased respiratory rate and is a common indicator of heavy breathing in Maine Coons.
5. Standing Or Crouching On Elbows With A Stretched-Out Posture
When a Maine Coon is breathing heavy it will stretch its body and expand its thoracic cavity to aid in breathing.
The cat will mostly do this in a standing position or in a crouched position on its elbows.
6. Increased Heart Rate (Tachycardia)
Increased heart rate, or tachycardia, is a common sign of heavy breathing in Maine Coons.
When oxygen levels in the blood drop due to respiratory or Maine Coon nasal issues, the heart rate increases in order to supply the body with oxygenated blood more quickly.
7. Lethargy And Anxiety
Heavy breathing is usually accompanied by lethargy in Maine Coons because of a lack of oxygen in the body.
The cat also becomes anxious and stressed as a result of difficulty moving about and playing.
8. Loss Of Appetite
When Maine Coons suffer from heart disease or respiratory problems that disrupt their breathing rhythm and cause heavy breathing, they may lose their appetite and begin to lose weight.
In this case, take your Maine Coon to the vet as quickly as possible.
9. Bluish Gums Or Tongue
Although it is rare Maine Coons can develop bluish tongues and gums when they breath heavy, due to a lack of oxygen in the blood (source 1).
Causes Of Maine Coon Breathing Problems
Below are some of the most common causes of Maine Coon cat breathing problems:
1. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy primarily affects the left ventricle of Maine Coons by thickening its walls. The abnormal development of cardiac muscle cells causes the walls to thicken.
Even though the cardiac cells grow in size, the heart of your Maine Coon remains of the same size, therefore the left ventricle cannot retain as much blood as it normally would.
The left ventricle thickens, contracts more forcefully, and relaxes less between contractions.
Maine Coon hypertrophic cardiomyopathy causes heavy breathing because the left ventricle cannot hold much blood, so most of it begins to pool in the left atrium and pulmonary vein (which brings the blood from the lungs to the heart).
As pressure builds in the left atrium and pulmonary vein, blood back flows to the lungs.
When blood backflows into the lungs, the air cavities begin to fill with fluid, causing shortness of breath and heavy breathing in Maine Coons.
Most cat owners notice this as the first indicator of cardiac failure or heart illness.
According to estimates, approximately 30% of Maine Coons have the genetic mutation that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Maine Coon heart murmurs are abnormal noises caused by turbulent blood flow across the heart valves as a result of changes in the normal anatomy of the heart caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (sources 1,2,3).
One of the most common causes of Maine Coon cat breathing problems is asthma.
Asthmatic Maine Coons have narrow airways that can become inflamed and obstructed due to excessive mucus production, resulting in heavy breathing.
Dust mites, litter particles, pollen, and a few other things are the most frequent triggers of asthma attacks in Maine Coons.
Allergies, particularly anaphylactic reactions, are a cause of respiratory problems in Maine Coons.
When allergies develop, histamine is produced in the Maine Coon’s body, causing constriction of the airways and heavy breathing.
Dyspnea is not an illness, but rather a generic term for difficulty breathing.
If your Maine Coon is having trouble breathing, it is suffering from dyspnea.
5. Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections that cause breathing problems in Maine Coons include:
- Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)
- Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
Anemia, or a low red blood cell count, can also cause breathing problems in Maine Coons.
When there is a low red blood cell count in the blood, sufficient oxygen cannot be delivered throughout the body, which might lead to breathing difficulties in Maine Coons.
Toxins, parasites, infections, and a variety of other medical conditions in cats can all lead to anemia.
Even though choking on something is unlikely for a Maine Coon, it can happen.
If a foreign object gets lodged in the trachea of your Maine Coon, it may experience breathing problems and, if not treated promptly, the condition may deteriorate.
8. Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), a relatively common viral infection, can cause breathing problems in Maine Coons.
If you are wondering why is my cat breathing fast, even if there are no evident signs of disease or illness, you should check to see whether your cat has a distended abdomen.
FIP causes fluid to build up in the abdomen, which can cause it to become distended, and the diaphragm cannot adequately relax and contract, causing breathing problems in Maine Coons.
9. Blood Parasites
Heartworms and other blood parasites can cause breathing problems in Maine Coons.
How To Help Cat With Heavy Breathing
Treatments for heavy breathing in cats are mainly determined by the cause and the symptoms displayed by the cat.
The following is a general treatment plan for Maine Coon cats with heavy breathing:
If your cat is having trouble breathing due to respiratory infections such as bacterial or viral pneumonia, the most obvious treatment will be a course of antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria.
Other medications, such as those that increase urine production, can be given to the cat if there is fluid buildup in the lungs, to get rid of excess fluid from the body.
If your cat is breathing heavy and is unable to meet its body’s oxygen requirement, and there are signs of hypoxia (a lack of oxygen in the body tissue), vets may place an oxygen mask on your cat’s face.
Maine Coon heart disease treatment often consists of oral medications, some of which help to regulate blood flow by thinning it, while others improve heart function.
If the Maine Coon has a cardiac disease, it may need to take up to three doses of medication every day.
Despite the medications, Maine Coons can develop heart failure.
Are you wondering what does it mean when a cat is breathing rapidly?
It usually indicates that your cat has breathing problems or is:
- Under Heat Stress
IV fluids are used to provide water and electrolytes to cats that are dehydrated or who are breathing heavily due to heat stress (source 1).
Do Maine Coons breath heavy?
Maine Coons do not normally breathe heavily, but their breathing rate (breaths per minute) can be up to 35 when compared to other cats due to their enormous size and thick coat.
Heavy breathing in Maine Coons is typically caused by stress, anxiety, fear, exhaustion, and health issues.
Respiratory infections, anemia, heart problems (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or HCM), blood parasites, and a few others are common causes of heavy breathing in Maine Coons.
Common signs that you can observe with heavy breathing in Maine Coons include panting, snoring, tachypnea, etc.
If your Maine Coon breathes heavily all the time, even when relaxing or sleeping, you should consult a veterinarian.
There is not much you can do at home to alleviate heavy breathing concerns in cats.
Heavy breathing in Maine Coons requires immediate veterinary attention, particularly if they have heart disease; else, your cat could die.
Do Maine Coons Have Bad Breath?
Normally Maine Coons do not have bad breath. If your Maine Coon has bad breath, it has most likely eaten something smelly, such as oily fish, or it has a dental infection.
Can Maine Coons Be Dangerous?
Despite their large size, Maine Coons are among the most friendly cats in the world and rarely get aggressive, making them an ideal pet for families with children.
Maine Coon Snoring
Snoring is not normal in healthy Maine Coons and is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection or something blocking their airways, such as nasal polyps.