Popularly known as gentle giants because of their size and sociability, your feline may be susceptible to Maine Coon noisy breathing. Cat professionals attribute this to the Maine Coon cat’s large size.
Keep reading to discover the most common 10 causes of cat noisy breathing, and what you need to do to treat it.
Maine Coon noisy breathing is either the stridor or stertor type. Stridor has a high-pitched sound, caused by blockages or issues in your cat’s windpipe. Stertor has a low-pitched sound when your cat inhales, often caused by issues in their nose or throat. Blockages are caused by airway obstruction, anxiety or fear, asthma, fluid buildup, etc.
It is vital you contact your vet immediately if you think your Maine Coon has a blockage in its airway.
Determining if your feline’s Maine Coon noisy breathing is either stridor or stertor will help identify further underlying causes.
Sometimes, certain underlying causes can result in what could sound like a combination of both stridor or stertor, and it can get confusing if you don’t know what to look for.
In this article, we cover the most common 10 causes of Maine Coon noisy breathing.
Keep reading to discover more.
Maine Coon Noisy Breathing
As one of the oldest natural cat breeds in North America, your Maine Coon has an illustrious background.
Its beautiful looks and muscular build, coupled with its laid-back, people-friendly manner, have inspired popular cat shows, especially during the late 19th century.
Although considered a hardy cat breed, Maine Coons can still have health challenges.
Maine Coon noisy breathing is usually first identified when your cat is breathing loudly while sleeping or when your cat’s breathing sounds like snoring.
Here are 10 common causes of Maine Coon noisy breathing:
1. Airway Obstruction
Breathing difficulties whilst inhaling is often a sign of upper airway obstruction.
Whereas breathing difficulties whilst exhaling (medically known as respiratory distress) are often a sign of a lower airway issue.
Cats with respiratory distress also exhibit abdominal exertion when exhaling.
Upper airway obstruction can be due to naso-oropharyngeal disorders, like:
- Foreign Bodies
- Severe Head Trauma that results in bone fractures
- Elongated Soft Palate
- Other Brachycephalic Airway Diseases
- Laryngeal Disorders
- Tracheal Diseases
Lower airway issues often involve feline asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Both are indicated by a chronic cough, but sadly many owners mistake this sound for furballs because their cats retch during a coughing episode.
A chronic cough is the result of airway narrowing, with mucus and inflammation of the airways (sources 1,2,3,4).
2. Anxiety Or Fear
Your Maine Coon cats noisy breathing may also be caused by:
- Strenuous Exercise
- Being Overheated
- Feeling Threatened
This noisy breathing is often exhibited as panting, which is rare in cats (source 1).
Owners should check their feline’s environment, and try to cool them down, making them feel as safe and comfortable as possible.
When your Maine Coon is stressed, it may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Behavioral Problems
- Lowered Immune System
- Increase Or Decreased Food Intake
- Excessive Scratching
- Noisy Breathing
For example, your Maine Con may show apathy to things and activities it used to enjoy, or suddenly show aggressive behavior to people and other pets in the household.
Stress, in turn, can weaken their immune system, leaving them susceptible to physical ailments and diseases.
When there is a noticeable change in the amount of food your Maine Coon cat normally eats, this is indicative of them feeling stressed.
Excessive scratching may indicate parasites, which can cause both stress and physical health challenges for your cat.
Cat asthma is indicated not only by breathing difficulties, but also by:
- Rapid Breathing
- Open-Mouthed Breathing
All of these factors may be exhibited by your feline spontaneously. Alternatively, check for these symptoms by pressing lightly on your cat’s throat.
Cats with an asthma attack also assume a crouched posture, with their bodies close to the ground and their head and neck extended forward.
Feline asthma is similar to human asthma in the sense that it is the chronic inflammation of the lung airways. Also, like in humans, asthma attacks are often triggered by exposure to allergens or stress.
Asthma in cats usually develops when they are between 2 to 8 years old (sources 1,2).
4. Buildup Of Fluid In The Chest Or Abdominal Cavities
There are two types of fluid buildup:
- Pulmonary Edema
- Pleural Effusion
In pulmonary edema, fluid accumulates inside the lungs. This is usually associated with pneumonia and heart disease.
In pleural effusion, fluid builds up in the space between the outer surface of the lungs and the inner surface of the chest or abdominal cavities. It is often a symptom of congestive heart failure, although it can also indicate other diseases.
Both types of fluid buildup will cause impaired breathing and are caused by the following (source 1):
- Viral Infection
- Traumatic Injury
- Toxin Exposure e.g. smoke and snake venom
- Near Drowning
- Blood Clots
- Too Little Protein In The Blood
- Twisting Of A Lung Lobe
- Congestive Heart Failure
Using a digital thermometer or a pediatric rectal thermometer in your cat’s ear, measure her temperature. A normal cat’s body temperature will be between 100.4oF to 102.5oF.
If your Maine Coons temperature is higher than this, she has a fever.
If your cats temperature is higher than 106oF, then she is at risk for serious vital organ damage so make sure you take her to the vet promptly.
A fevered cat usually exhibits the following symptoms (source 1):
- Loss Of Appetite
- Shivering (which can be accompanied by noisy breathing)
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Decreased Drinking
6. Inflammation Of The Throat Caused By Vomiting Or Toxins
Pharyngitis, or inflammation of your feline’s throat, can be caused by:
- Too Much Maine Coon Vomiting
- Ingesting Toxic Chemicals
- Ingesting Other Irritants
This Maine Coon health problem is often characterized by difficulty swallowing.
With severe inflammation, severe abscesses may form and obstruct your cat’s throat, which in turn can lead to more serious complications.
Other symptoms of pharyngitis include (source 1):
- Signs of mouth pain
- Swollen Tonsils
- Bad Breath
- Resistance to having the mouth opened
- Nasal Congestion
- Presence of fluid or draining sores
- Ulcers or abscesses in the mouth
You will know when your Maine Coon cat has lost their normal voice since Maine Coons are well known for talking so much! Here’s why they do this.
Your Maine Coons sounds will also be quieter and hoarser than usual.
This is usually caused by an inflammation in their throat or vocal cords, which in turn has underlying causes, including (source 1):
- Inhaled Irritants (Dust, Smoke)
- Physical Obstruction In The Larynx Or Voice Box
- Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
8. Narrowed Nostrils, Nose, Or Throat
Nasopharyngeal stenosis, or the narrowing of your cat’s nasal passage, happens when a thin but durable membrane forms in their nasal cavity.
This restricts the Maine Coon cats oxygen flow, causing extremely difficult and noisy breathing, as well as difficulty in eating and sleeping.
This condition usually results from inflammation caused by:
- Chronic Vomiting
Your cat’s breathing will produce the following unusual sounds and symptoms (source 1):
- Frequent Sneezing
- Breathing Through The Mouth
- Excessive Nasal Discharges
9. Upper Respiratory Tract (URT) Issues
Upper respiratory tract issues are usually indicated by:
- Eye and/or Nose Discharges
- Open-Mouth Breathing (due to nasal congestion)
In addition, check if your cat has:
- Lost their appetite
- Their tongue has lesions or ulcers
- Is lethargic
- Has a fever
The most common cause of URT in cats is infectious URT disease like viral rhinosinusitis.
A less common cause is chronic idiopathic rhinosinusitis (source 1).
Maine Coon lung problems which result in noisy breathing, among other symptoms are referred to as pulmonary contusion or lung bruising.
This is caused by blunt trauma decompressing your cat’s thoracic wall or chest cavity, making the blood and plasma leak into the inner lung.
Depending on the damage, it can result in mild dyspnea (breathing difficulties) or it can be severe apnea (absence of breathing).
Blunt trauma may involve your feline being kicked, hit by a car, or falling. If you suspect this, it is best to have your veterinarian check your Maine Coon cat as soon as possible (source 1).
Ultimately, being informed and aware of what to look for can help your veterinarian understand and diagnose the issues far quicker.
Why Do Maine Coons Have Breathing Problems?
All cats can have breathing problems, however, the Maine Coon is particularly susceptible due to its size and hereditary reasons.
Maine Coons are already relatively big, but if yours is also obese, the excess tissue adds to the pressure on their chest and lungs, causing breathing difficulties.
Heart disease or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), are the most common forms of health issues diagnosed in Maine Coon cats.
These issues involve breathing problems as one of its symptoms, which researchers have identified are caused by a genetic mutation (source 1).
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is also a common health issue found in Maine Coon kittens and involves breathing difficulties as one of its symptoms.
SMA is a genetic disease characterized by:
- Unsteady Gait
- Posture Abnormalities
- Progressive Instability
This condition is detected in Maine Coon kittens at around 3 to 4 months old (source 1).
Should I Be Able To Hear My Cat Breathing?
Unless you look and listen very closely you will not be able to hear your cat breathing, provided they are healthy.
If your cat has a breathing problem, you will hear your Maine Coon breathing:
- Loudly and Quickly
- Taking Small, Shallow Breaths
- Panting (Mouth Breathing)
When any or a combination of these symptoms happen, stay calm, keep your cat calm, and call your vet right away (source 1).
What Does Cat Asthma Sound Like?
Cat asthma sounds like fast and heavy breathing even while at rest.
You Maine Coon will be breathing:
- More than 40 breaths in a minute
- Panting or breathing through their mouth
- Wheezing (whistling or rattling)
Additional feline asthma symptoms include (source 1):
- Blue Gums
- Crouching position with the head and neck extended
How To Tell If Your Cat Has Respiratory Problems
Your cat has respiratory problems if any part of its respiratory system i.e. nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs, have problems.
Generally, if your cat is healthy, their breathing should not be labored and should flow easily and quietly.
Below are the common symptoms of respiratory problems vets recommend to be alert for in your Maine Coon cat (source 1):
- Nostrils flare open while breathing.
- Belly and chest moves with each breath.
- Breathing with an open mouth or panting.
- Crouching with head and neck extended while breathing.
- Noisy breathing.
- Rapid breathing.
- Shallow Breathing.
How Can I Help My Congested Cat?
When your Maine Coon cat’s nasal passage is congested, it usually indicates a cat cold which normally goes away on its own within 7 to 10 days.
However, if you want to help your congested cat along with home remedies, here is what you can do.
a. Cat Sounds Congested But No Discharge
If your cat sounds congested but has no discharge, it may have rhinitis or stuffy nose, although rhinitis can also include discharge symptoms.
Stuffy nose symptoms usually include your cat’s difficulty in:
- Smelling food
- Breathing difficulties are apparent during playtime
This condition can clear up in a few days or weeks or can last for life.
If chronic, damage to the lining will occur which can cause secondary bacterial symptoms which will worsen your cat’s conditions.
Quick home remedies typically involve (source 1):
- Exposing Maine Coon to warm, humid air.
- Warm, strong-smelling food.
- Nursing care e.g cleaning a cat’s face with a warm washcloth and making her as warm and comfortable as you can.
If your cat is whistling while breathing (wheezing), especially while sleeping, with a high-pitched sound while exhaling, this indicates narrowing or obstruction in their lower airways (source ).
Home remedies include (sources 1,2):
- Reducing airborne triggers
- Ensuring your cat’s environment has a good flow
Rapid Breathing In Cats
A normal breathing rate for cats is 25 to 30 breaths per minute when they are at rest.
If they have lower than 25 breaths per minute but are otherwise healthy, it is not a cause for concern.
However, if you notice your feline’s breathing to be more than 40 breaths per minute, it could indicate cat asthma (source 1).
Maine Coon HCM Symptoms
Heart disease or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) occurs frequently among Maine Coon cats aged 5 to 7 years old.
However, the extreme range covers 3 months to 17 years and affects mainly the male of the Maine Coon species.
HCM affects the muscles of the heart and has been traced to a genetic predisposition among Maine Coon cats.
When cats have HCM their hearts do not function properly because their hearts become:
- Abnormally Thick
- Rigid and Less Elastic
These symptoms make it harder for the cat’s heart to pump blood through their bodies and maintain a normal rhythm.
Symptoms of heart disease in Maine Coon cats include:
- Loss of appetite
- Bluish discoloration of foot pads and nail beds
- Difficulty breathing
- Crackles (short, rough, snapping breathing sounds)
- Inability to tolerate exercise or exertion
- Impaired movement
- Abnormal heart sounds (muffled, murmurs, galloping rhythm)
- Sudden hind-limb paralysis with cold limbs
- Collapse due to heart failure.
You will need to provide your vet with a thorough history of your Maine Coon cat’s health history right up to the onset of symptoms.
Your vet will then carefully observe your cat, listening to their chest for evidence of heart murmurs or lung fluids.
The vet will also check the color of your cat’s gums and limbs. If they are bluish, this indicates a lack of oxygen to these areas.
Next, your Maine Coon cat will be given blood tests, to check for low red blood cell count and other underlying disease conditions.
Finally, your Maine Coon will have x-ray and ultrasound tests to examine their lungs and heart source 1).
Maine Coon noisy breathing can be caused by blockages in a feline’s windpipe (stridor) or nose and throat (stertor).
These, in turn, have several underlying causes, the 10 most common of which are airway obstruction, anxiety or fear, asthma, fluid buildup in the lungs, chest, or abdominal cavities; fever, throat inflammation caused by chronic vomiting or toxins, laryngitis, narrowed nasal passageway, upper respiratory tract (URT) issues, and physical trauma.
When you visit your vet, the information you provide will be crucial to your vet’s accurate diagnosis and prescription for your feline.
Your Maine Coon pet deserves all the correct information you can share with your vet so she will be given the proper and correct care and treatment.
Why Does My Maine Coon Growl?
Maine Coon cats are naturally docile, gentle, and sociable, so when they exhibit aggressive symptoms like growling, this could take you by surprise. Maine Coons growl when they are stressed. Stress can be caused by pain, lack of socialization, health issues, etc.
What Do Maine Coon Sounds Mean?
Maine Coons chirp, purr, or trill to express their feelings, emotions, and needs. A purr is a vibration-like sound at a high frequency of 100-plus oscillations, expressing their comfort, happiness, feeling of safety and being loved, or to get your attention. They howl, cry, hiss, or spit when they are hungry, thirsty, sick, in pain, annoyed, or feeling territorial.
Are Maine Coon Cats Noisy?
Maine Coons are very vocal felines. They express a range of sounds to express their different emotions and to communicate with humans and other animals in their household.
What Does A Maine Coon Trill Sound Like?
A trill is a high-pitched repetitive sound that comes in short bursts. It is the Maine Coon’s general form of communication with humans and other animals (especially those within their households).
What Does A Maine Coon Chirp Sound Like?
A chirp is a high-pitched short sound like a rolling “R” that generally denotes a Maine Coon’s contentment and happiness, as well as its eagerness to talk with humans.
Why Do Maine Coons Make Weird Noises?
Maine Coons generally do not meow unless taught to by another cat breed in the same household. Older Maine Coons may meow. A Maine Coon meowing lots is a sign of a problem.
Why Do Maine Coons Howl?
Maine Coon howl at night when they want attention, are in pain, feel lonely or have separation anxiety, or are in heat (especially females). They cry (a long, drawn-out howling) when they are hungry, thirsty, want attention, scared, feel lonely or anxious, sick, and are not neutered. They hiss or spit when feeling territorial and alert you to danger.