The feline respiratory system serves a dual purpose. It is not only a system of replacing carbon dioxide in the body with oxygen, but also the singular cooling system that the animal has. Unlike humans, cats have sweat glands only in their feet and cannot sweat to maintain body temperatures. To lower body temperature, cats must breathe harder for a faster exchange of warm air with the cooler air outside.
Regardless of the functions that it performs, the respiratory system of cats is almost similar to humans. Inhaled air enters the body through the nostrils and the mouth, and moves through a complex set up of cavities and tubes. The respiratory system includes:
- Nostrils, the two external openings of the nasal cavity.
- Nasal cavity extending from the face to the pharynx.
- Sinuses, the various air-filled cavities in the bones of the skull.
- Pharynx, the passage to the lungs (and stomach) in the front part of the neck below the chin and above the collarbone.
- Larynx, a cartilaginous structure at the top of the trachea also called the voice box.
- Trachea or the windpipe, a membranous tube that conveys inhaled air from the larynx to the bronchi.
- Bronchi, the two branches of trachea that lead into the lungs.
- The lungs, two saclike organs that serve to remove carbon dioxide and provide oxygen to the blood.
The lungs have sections called lobes and the cells of the lungs have numerous alveoli, which are tiny sacs that hold air. Blood is supplied to alveoli by an intricate network of minute blood vessels (capillaries). It is at the level of alveoli that carbon dioxide is exchanged with oxygen and is passed out through the same route as oxygen enters.
Breathing is possible through the actions of muscles between the ribs and the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscular partition that separates the abdominal and thoracic cavities and plays an important role in respiration. As the diaphragm moves towards the abdomen, it creates a vacuum, allowing the lungs to inflate and suck in fresh oxygen. Alternately, when it moves towards the head off the cat, it causes compression in the lungs and stale air is breathed out.
The respiratory system is the first point of entry of environmental toxins, and as such is highly prone to feline respiratory diseases. Symptoms like heavy breathing, coughing and lameness are indicative of a feline upper respiratory infection that can be serious at times. Knowing how to treat cat respiratory problems, at least till the time veterinarian help can be sought, can go along way in making life comfortable for your cat. Feline upper respiratory herbal treatment is one of the options that you can consider as both a long-term curative and as well as preventive measure.Sources