cat panting

Why is My Cat Panting?

Reviewed by Alan Brus, DVM

Catching a pet cat panting is an unusual occurrence for most cat owners, who have probably never seen it.

Cats do pant, but not all the time, and nowhere near as often as your pet dog is likely to.

It is perfectly normal for your cat to be panting with mouths open due to things like being hot, or anxious.

If you have any concern that your cat is not acting like itself contact your vet right away.

What Normal Panting Looks Like

cat panting

Panting, described as rapid open mouthed breathing, is normal in cats under certain circumstances.

With some breeds of long haired cats, such as Persians, Maine Coon’s and Himalayans more likely to breathe heavily.

During very hot weather a cat will use several techniques to cool off, such as licking themselves, sweating through their paws, as well as panting.

Another reason for panting is when a cat is playing, or engaged in strenuous exercise, expending large amounts of energy causing overheating.

An anxious cat will also be likely to pant, which is normal behavior, and will resolve once the anxiety inducing experience has ended.

However, outside these times, when panting, and rapid breathing should clear up quickly, there may be a medical problem.

Signs of Abnormal Panting

cat panting

The onset of sudden painting for no apparent reason is always a cause for concern and should be taken seriously.

Heavy breathing,  increased respiratory rate with difficulty breathing in a cat is usually a sign of a dangerous condition.

If you notice a continued pant, wheeze or labored breathing over a period of time contact your veterinarian. 

Other symptoms to look for are drooling, bright red tongue, any blood from the nose, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy or weakness.

Why is My Cat Panting?

cat panting

Asthma is a cause for a cat to wheeze and cough, and will require treatment that can be very effective in clearing up.

Heartworm disease will cause inflammation requiring medication and oxygen therapy in more serious cases.

Your cat may be suffering from a respiratory infection putting stress on the heart and lungs.

Congestive heart failure, a heart problem common in cats causing heart disease can cause excessive panting.

Trauma can also be a cause of unusual panting in a cat as well as other neurologic disorders.

All of the situations and conditions listed above will require veterinary care quickly.

When to See a Veterinarian

cat panting

If the excessive panting does not stop within a short period of time, and there are no external factors that could be causing the panting; see your vet right away.

Your vet will be happy to evaluate your cat, knowing that it is better safe than sorry when it comes to the health of your pet.

Over panting in a cat is easily overlooked as inconsequential, but as we have seen in this post, it can be a sign of serious illness.

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