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My Cat Is Breathing Faster When They Purr, Is That Normal?

Portrait of a gray cat called Briton with open mouth

As a cat owner, there are a number of different signs to look for when you want to make sure they are happy and healthy. Sometimes they may have certain behaviors that might make you panic. It’s important to recognize when you should take your cat to the vet, and when they are just practicing normal cat behavior. For example, animals have different heart rates and patterns of breathing than humans, which we can easily forget!

Continue reading to learn about why cats breathe faster when they purr, and when it’s potentially an issue.


Is It Normal for Cats to Breathe Fast While Purring?

funny cat in domestic background, siesta time, relaxing cat, curious cat, cat with open mouth
Image Credit: Matthew Xan, Shutterstock

The short answer to this is yes, cats do breathe faster than humans on average. Their respiratory rate generally increase while purring, and this is usually perfectly normal.

This isn’t a cause for concern, and cat parents shouldn’t worry about their cats breathing quicker than we would. On average, cats will take 20 to 30 breaths per minute. Of course, when they are excited, playing, or having the “zoomies” this can increase a bit. Also, when cats purr their breathing will change in sound, repetition, and rate.

What Is Happening When Cats Purr?

According to studies, cats purr when they are happy and content, or are trying to calm themselves. Usually, you notice a cat purr when you cuddle them or show them affection. They can also purr when they are generally happy or attempting to feel better in different situations. It is a behavior that has been learned by smaller cats, as larger cats (i.e., lions, tigers, etc.) do not purr. It’s said that they use purring to relax them and to show humans that they’re in a pleasant mood.

Purring occurs when cats’ vocal cords turn their breaths into smaller and shorter rhythms.

How to Check If Your Cat’s Breathing Is Normal

burmese cat catching breath
Image Credit: Yuttana Joe, Shutterstock

With all this said, there can be some situations where you should keep an eye on your cat. Of course, panting can be normal if your cat has just been zipping around and playing. It’s like when dogs pant on a hot summer day, as they are working to cool or calm down their bodies after lots of activity. However, there may be some breathing behaviors that can be a cause for concern.

If your cat is breathing rapidly after normal behavior, and often, then you might need to get them checked by a veterinarian. There will usually be other behaviors or signs that occur in tandem with rapid breathing such as trouble sleeping, stress, lack of appetite, and other signs of distress or illness. There may also be signs of trouble breathing like coughing, low energy, or wheezing.


Final Thoughts

Depending on whether your cat is experiencing rapid breathing due to an illness or a normal rate of breathing, it’s important to understand which is which. You don’t want to panic and cause stress for yourself and your cat when there is nothing wrong. If your cat is breathing rapidly while showing other signs of distress it may be best to take them for a checkup with a vet.

But remember, purring is generally a positive thing, and breathing rapidly while purring is perfectly normal.


Featured Image Credit: Anastasija Goryainova, Shutterstock

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