Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What to know about your cat's breathing rate:

Count it daily when the cat's at laying down for a few minutes. You want to count a rate that is steady. Cat's breathing rate increases during dreams, when sniffing, when pouncing, looking outside, etc. You want to count the cat when it's not distracted.

Count one up/down chest movement =one count. Number of those in 15 seconds. Times by four for one minute breathe rate. Some vets count in ten seconds and then times by six. Choose your method. 

A cat at rest should be 24 breaths per minute; a cat beginning to have CHF will be about 30 or more. Between 30 and 36, to bring it down-as long as the cat's not in distress-give an extra dose of your diuretic and wait an hour. The cat should improve. Give water by mouth if the cat's not drinking enough (again, water is key to help kidneys in the diuresis process.) If the rate increases or if the cat is stumbling/fainting/in distress/hiding-go to the ER a.s.a.p. If you have injectable lasix on hand, inject .2ml into the cat and wait an hour and follow the above. If the rate is above 36, you may need the ER. 

Now, if your cat is like Myrna, and the norm (after three years) becomes 32, then your window of CHF becomes smaller. When she's 32+ we give extra diuretic, we've done injections, we've gone to the ER. At the ER, they will give oxygen and inject lasix. Oxygen helps the cat to calm down as oxygen (explained in an earlier post) is what the cat is fighting to intake and circulate. Oxygen helps to put breathing back in balance even as the cat is still in CHF.

Too many vets believe a cat in CHF will pant, breathe open mouth. They make the mistake of telling their cat owners to not worry until the cat is panting or breathing open mouth. Reality is that CHF begins the moment miniscule amounts of fluid show up in the lungs/around the lungs and increases the breathing rate. Always watch and measure your HCM cat's breathing rate and take care to lower it a.s.a.p. Never wait until your cat is breathing so hard that it is driven to breathe open mouth. By then it could be too late to overcome CHF even in the ER, let alone at home.

Another thing vets say is "Keep an eye on it" without telling you what "it" is you should be watching-the systems, the reactions to meds, the breathing rate, etc. Always ask "What does that mean" and drill it down: "What might happen?" "Are there any contraindications (complications between meds)?" "What are side effects" "What if the cat licks the (skin) med?"

Just don't believe the vet when they say "Don't worry about CHF" or the breathing rate. It must come down back to normal a.s.a.p. or the cat needs the ER. Again-it's all about the oxygen, not drowning in fluid, etc. things I've posted about earlier.

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