Why Do Cats Pant?

I consider I and my cat to be very close. I try to take as much time to read up and understand the ‘cat language’ and decipher it.  I have been quite successful with plenty of fails along the way. I have always thought of cats to be very fit. I mean, if I go up the stairs, I pant like a dog on a sunny day but for my cat, that is a cake walk, furry thing doesn’t even bat an eye.

You can imagine my shock one morning when we are out in the backyard taking in the sun and I notice the little guy sticking his tongue out to take some short quick breaths. I just had to find out if this is a normal phenomenal or if my cat was actually taking his last breath right in front of my eyes. Quite a scary experience I must say.


Is it Normal?

Before getting into the meat of things on why do cat’s pant, it is important to put your worries to rest or perhaps raise the alarm by identifying if panting is normal in cats.

Unfortunately, the answer is two sided depending on the circumstances. It is normal for a cat to pant on a sunny day or after a brisk play period. In most cases, this is evidenced by the tongue sticking out and you might also notice the cat taking rapid breaths.  

In some isolated cases, panting might also be a cause of alarm. It might symptomize certain health issues in your pet that might need urgent attention.

How Can I Tell if Panting in My Cat is Normal or Abnormal?

That’s a great question. One of the easiest ways to tell if panting in a cat is normal is by monitoring what the cat was doing prior to the panting. In most cases, you shouldn’t be alarmed if the cat was in a high stress situation that might have scared the air out of it, if the cat is anxious or had just completed some vigorous play time.

Each of these scenarios will require your feline buddy to lie down and catch a breath. If the sun is out, the panting could also be caused by the cat trying to cool down. If this happens to be the case, you can help the cat cool down by giving her a damp towel to lie on. All these are great explanations to the question why do cat’s pant especially in normal circumstances.

If your cat has not taken part in any of the activities that could cause it to pant or, the cat seems to be panting even when she is lying down, that should raise an eye brow. Panting in cats has also been associated with underlying cardiovascular diseases and you need to get ahead of it before it gets out of hand.

Causes of Abnormal Panting in Cats

Other than a good workout or a hot day, there are medical conditions that could also explain why cats pant.

  • Asthma 

If your cat is suffering from asthma, the panting will include other symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and its respiratory rate will also be higher. The condition can be stimulated by an allergic reaction and can be treated with the help bronchodilators and corticosteroids.

  • Heartworm

Even though heartworm is more associated with dogs, occasionally, cats can also be affected causing labored breathing. Supportive care to reduce inflammation and oxygen therapy can be used to alleviate the symptoms. It is important to make sure that your cat is on a monthly preventative for heartworm because it is highly fatal.

  • Congestive heart failure

This happens when fluid accumulates around the lungs causing the cat to take deep rapid breaths accompanied by panting and coughing. There are several methods of treatment which include draining the fluid or medication to dilate the blood vessels. In more severe cases, you might need to euthanize the cat but it is important to try alternative methods first.

  • Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections are usually viral and they make it hard for the cat to breathe which is evidenced by panting. They are rarely fatal but require treatment with antibiotics in cases where the infection is caused by a bacterial and to help make breathing easier humidifiers can be used.

Other conditions which can explain why do cats pant include trauma, excruciating pain, anemia and also when the cat is on heat it might pant a little.

Round Up 

Even though panting can be common in cats, it never hurts to pick up the phone and ask your veterinary about it. If you know your cat well like I do or the panting is warranted after a quick chase through the backyard by your dog, then you have nothing to worry about.  Considering that cats are built for speed and agility, prolonged panting or when it is occasional should definitely warrant a trip to the vet.

Rebecca Welters

Yes, I am that weird cat lady with 200 cats and live in the darkest corner of the city where no one dares to go! Joking! But I am a cat lover and have 2 Ragdoll cats called Toby, he's 3 years old and Dory, she's 8 years old. I'm 36 years old and live in the quiet town of Washington.

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