OBJECTIVES: Dyspnoea is an unspecific severe presenting sign, which can be life threatening and requires prompt treatment. Dyspnoeic cats often have significant underlying disease. Underlying aetiologies, in cats that presented with dyspnoea were reviewed, and associations with patient signalment and outcome were investigated.
METHODS: The case records of 90 dyspnoeic cats were retrospectively reviewed and separated into different groups depending on aetiology (cardiac, respiratory, neoplastic and trauma). Duration of clinical signs, presentation, hospitalisation length and survival were analysed.
RESULTS: Cardiac (38 per cent), respiratory (32 per cent) and neoplastic (20 per cent) diseases were common causes of feline dyspnoea. Cats with respiratory causes had longer duration of clinical signs (P<0.001) before presentation. Cats with neoplasia were significantly older (P<0.001). No significant difference in respiratory rates was present between the groups (P=0.154). High heart rates (P<0.001) and abnormalities on cardiac auscultation were more likely in the cardiac group.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Frequent causes of dyspnoea in cats were cardiac disease followed by respiratory causes and neoplastic conditions. Heart rate on presentation and presence of heart murmurs or gallops are useful to identify cardiac causes. Improved proportion surviving was found in the respiratory group (P=0.027), whereas cats with neoplasia had the worst outcome.