Breathing Difficulty

Persian cats can have a simple surgery to correct their narrow nostrils.



We have three Persian cats. Two are just fine but one of them (two years old) has trouble breathing. Her nostrils are very narrow. Can anything be done to help her breathe a little easier? I thought maybe tubes can be inserted.


Dr. Nichol:

This kitty has stenotic nares; it’s as though her nose is being pinched. Persian cats have pushed-in faces that, in some cases, make the sides of the nostrils cave-in on themselves. You are right about it being difficult for her to breathe. It’s especially tough for her when she runs because the faster she tries to get air into her lungs the more those nostrils collapse. If she needed to move really fast, being unable to get enough air could cause her to panic. She needs help.


The good news is that there’s a pretty simple fix. A wedge shaped piece of tissue from the side of each nostril can be surgically removed. Stitching the edges of the nostril across the gap created by the missing wedge will allow those nostrils to permanently stay open big enough for her to breathe normally. But while it’s a basically straightforward procedure not every veterinarian will want to handle it. Those of us who have helped brachycephalic (pushed-in faced) dogs like Pugs and Pekingnese could do an artful job. Cats, in general, are known for their vanity. But Persian cats, well, they’re like royalty. For her it better be a purrr-fect nose job. But tubes? No way. Only punk cats have tubes in their noses.