How to Best Support Your Cat's Respiratory Health

how to support your cat's respiratory health

While you may not give much thought to your cat’s respiratory system, it’s one of the most critical components of their overall health. By understanding how your cat’s respiratory system functions, what can cause it problems, and how best to support your cat’s respiratory health, you can give your cat a paw up on a happy, healthy life.


While the lungs are probably what first comes to mind, there’s a bit more to it than that. Your cat’s respiratory system also includes all the large and small airways that lead there, including the mouth, nose, trachea, and bronchi.

Of course, the most important function of the respiratory system is to deliver oxygen to your cat’s body while also removing carbon dioxide. Since it’s also one of the main ways viruses or bacteria can enter your cat’s system, it’s also protected by mucous membranes along with the immune system to make a strong first line of defense.

This is also why it’s so important to keep your cat’s respiratory system healthy. A healthy respiratory system protects the whole body and leads to a healthy, happy kitty.

cat pet parent petting their healthy cat


While the occasional cat sneeze is normal, regular sneezing can be a sign of trouble. Combine sneezing with a runny nose or congestion, and you’ve got some clear evidence that your cat’s respiratory system is under attack.

You also may notice discharge from your cat’s eyes – or even see them shaking their head. Even though the eyes and ears are not technically a part of your cat’s respiratory system, they can be affected by respiratory problems.

Viruses and bacteria are common causes of kitty respiratory distress. Ninety percent of all feline upper respiratory infections are caused by feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus. These viruses are very contagious and spread easily from cat to cat (but generally not to their human family).

cat squinting with upper respiratory infection

Allergies are another common cause of cat respiratory symptoms. When we think of allergies that cause sneezing or runny noses, things like pollen and smoke probably come to mind. But how about fleas?

Even though fleas are usually associated with itchy skin and scratching, they also can trigger flea allergies in cats. And flea allergies can cause respiratory symptoms that can easily be mistaken for a kitty cold.

If you ever notice that your cat is experiencing respiratory symptoms or having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian right away. 

For mild infections, your veterinarian may recommend treating their symptoms at home until they recover naturally. However, depending on the severity of your cat’s respiratory symptoms or their cause, your vet may recommend additional treatment.

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While we can’t put our cats in a plastic bubble to keep them away from all the health dangers in the world, there are things we can do to protect them and support their respiratory health.

Identify and Remove Allergens, If Necessary

Since allergens can trigger a wide range of respiratory symptoms, removing those allergens can greatly benefit and support their respiratory health.

Your veterinarian can help you identify the cause of your cat’s allergies. Depending on the cause, you can create a plan of action for your cat.

For some allergens, it may be possible to remove them completely from your home. For example, your cat may be allergic to a detergent or cleaning product you use. In other cases, your vet may recommend an allergy medication to keep your cat breathing easy.

allergens can cause cat respiratory issues

Keep Your Cat at a Healthy Weight

Extra weight puts stress on your cat’s entire body, including their respiratory system. Keeping them at a healthy weight lowers their risks of many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers.

If you suspect your cat is overweight, talk to your veterinarian. They can tell you your cat’s ideal weight and help you put together a diet and exercise plan.

Cats need to lose weight slowly to protect them from fatty liver disease. Your vet may recommend a lower-calorie diet as well as regular play times to get them moving.

talk with your vet if your cat needs to lose weight

Supplements to Support Your Cat’s Respiratory Health

Supporting your cat’s respiratory health starts with nutrition. A good cat food will be fortified with the basic nutrients your cat needs, but that isn’t always enough. Every cat is different, and some cats will need additional nutrients to maintain a healthy respiratory system.

Additionally, many cat foods are subjected to high heat when they’re prepared, which can damage certain heat-sensitive vitamins and nutrients.

Supplementing your cat’s diet with naturally sourced vitamins and nutrients like B12, folic acid, and omega-3, especially cold-pressed vitamins and nutrients, provides great support for your cat’s health.

Vitamin B12 and folic acid contribute to overall wellness while providing immune, digestive, cognitive, and nervous system support. And omega-3s support immune system function and cardiovascular health.

healthy cat running happily

But there’s one other nutrient that’s especially helpful in supporting your cat’s respiratory health; L-lysine, or lysine, as it’s often called. Lysine boosts immune health and promotes respiratory wellness.

In fact, many veterinarians recommend it to help cats battling feline herpesvirus (FHV). When feline herpesvirus infects a cat, it never leaves them. The virus stays in their bodies forever, and, in some cats, it makes a reappearance later on – like when the cat is stressed or unhealthy.

Cat mom, Alyssa, became concerned when her cat began squinting and a thick discharge started coming from his eyes. She did what any good pet parent would and took her cat to the vet. He was eventually diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, caused by FHV. Her vet recommended she supplement his diet with lysine to help him put the virus into remission.

While each cat's treatment plan may vary depending on the veterinarian's counsel, for Alyssa's cat, lysine did the trick!

Hibiki is now happy and healthy after taking lysine regularly

What’s the Best Respiratory Support Supplement for Your Cat?

Every cat is different, and your vet may actually recommend a specific formula for your cat’s particular needs. If you’re searching on your own, however, it can be a bit overwhelming. How do you find the right one for your cat? 

Start by looking for naturally sourced vitamins that are cold-pressed, like we mentioned above. Nutrients from natural sources are more bioavailable and thus more easily utilized by your cat. And cold pressing preserves those vitamins and all their benefits.

Also, watch out for supplements that are full of potentially harmful binders and fillers. Some supplements won’t even list their inactive ingredients at all, which is never ideal. It’s often these binders and fillers that don’t agree with a cat’s digestive system. 

Personally, we’re partial to our Balanced Breed® Cat L-Lysine Immune Support. We would never make vitamins we wouldn’t give to our own pets, which is why our supplements are always made from cold-pressed vitamins obtained from natural sources – and they never have harmful binders or fillers.

give your cat supplements for their respiratory health

Be sure to check where your supplement is manufactured and how. Currently, animal supplements aren’t held to the same standards as human supplements, so you have to rely on your trust in the company and their manufacturing protocols.

For example, even though we’re not required to, we voluntarily make all our supplements according to the same exacting standards the US government sets for human food. Or, in technical terms, our facilities are USDA-inspected & third-party audited based on 21 CFR Part 117 – CGMP Practice, Hazard Analysis, & Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food. 

When it’s your cat’s health, you only want the very best. So, whatever supplement you choose for their immune support, if you’ve followed these guidelines you’ll know that’s what you’re giving them.

Balanced breed makes cat vitamins with lysine, krill oil, and whole food sources


Your cat’s respiratory health is crucial to their overall health. While infections or allergies may cause our cats occasional respiratory distress, we can help strengthen their respiratory system to keep it working smoothly. By feeding them a healthy diet, keeping our homes allergen-free, and giving them supplements that provide the vitamins and nutrients their respiratory system needs, you can help your cat live a healthy, happy, and (mostly) sneeze-free life.

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