Why Is My Cat Panting? – Cat and Kitten Care

Do cats pant? Yes, they do but not as frequently as dogs. For cat lovers like you, hearing and seeing your cat pant may be ‘out of the box’ but it does not mean that it is not normal. In most cases, cat panting is something that should not make you lose sleep over with.

Why does your cat pant? Unlike dogs, panting is not something that you hear and see your cat do frequently, except mostly during warm weather conditions. Your cat may be panting as a result of playing and doing strenuous exercises during the summer months. Your cat’s panting could also be due to over-excitement, fear or anxiety.

In this article, we will share with you some thoughts on how you can distinguish if there are some underlying medical conditions behind your cat’s panting or is it just a natural response to a stimulus.

cat panting, cat panting when scared, diabetic cat panting

Signs of Normal Cat Panting

Panting is the process of heavy and fast breathing while the mouth is open. It is often accompanied by breathy sounds which also happens to cats. But, your kitty’s panting is discreet or should we say, not as loud as a dog’s panting.

For most cat lovers, panting or fast breathing is something that they do not associate with their feline babies. This is because cats usually keep themselves cool by licking their coat and by sweating from the pads of the paws.

So, if you see your pet puffing and huffing with mouth open, don’t panic right away. Here are the two non-health threatening causes of cat panting.

1. Overheating and Physical Exertion

Did you have a good time playing with your kitty outside? Then, most likely, the reason behind cat panting is to cool off from the heat and exhaustion. If this is the case, you should not worry as panting will subside in a few.

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Sometimes, when it gets too hot, grooming its paws is not enough to keep your cat cool.

What to do? Make sure that it has a cool and dry place to rest and recover. You can also add some ice cubes to its water bowl as a cold refreshment. Another tip is to rub ice cubes onto your pet’s coat for relief from the heat.

Have you heard of a cat stroller? If you want to take your kitty out with you on a hot and humid day, we suggest that you use a stroller for your pet. This will prevent your cat from getting too exhausted from walking around.

It also helps if you go outdoor early morning or late afternoon to prevent cat panting.

2. Stress

There are also certain scenarios when your cat might pant as a result of stress, say, for example, a visit to the Vet for an annual check-up or while inside a moving vehicle. Cat panting when scared is normal and will be resolved without any medical intervention.

How to avoid cat panting because of stress? Try your best to figure out what’s causing stress. If it is due to a car ride, you can use a cat carrier so your kitty will feel more secure in a moving vehicle. Another option for you to consider is the use of a seatbelt harness.

The idea is to teach your kitty to gradually enjoy car rides so panting from stress will be eliminated.

As a general rule, panting should stop once your feline pet has rested and cooled down. However, if you notice that the fast breathing persists, then that is another story.

Are there cat breeds that are more prone to pant? Long-haired cat breeds like Himalayans, Maine Coon, and Persians are more susceptible to panting.

When is Cat Panting Abnormal?

If your kitty pants and you have no idea why then we suggest that you watch your pet closely. Spontaneous cat panting could be an indication of something serious especially if it is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Heavy drooling
  • Bright red tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Nose bleeding
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If you see any of those symptoms along with panting, then it is time to make an appointment with your Veterinarian.

cat panting, cat panting when scared, diabetic cat panting

What Are The Causes of Abnormal Cat Panting?

If a cat has a serious medical condition, most often than not, the initial sign that you will begin to notice is its prolonged panting. We have listed below the possible culprit as to why your feline pet is panting:

1. Feline Asthma

This is a common allergic respiratory health issue among cats which affects at least 1% of adult cats worldwide.

If your cat has asthma, the condition will be triggered by inhaled allergens like pollens and molds. As a result, the airways to the lungs are constricted brought about by the allergens.

The mucus forms excessive amounts in the airways that lead to inflammation and in some cases, ulceration of the airways. This is the reason why you may see your kitty struggling to breathe normally which manifests in the form of cat panting, coughing, and wheezing.

What is the treatment for feline asthma? The immediate treatment involves oxygen therapy. Then medications are given like steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.

What can you do to prevent your kitty from panting as a result of feline asthma? There are certain things that you have to avoid doing around your home like the use of air fresheners, smoking, and using a cat litter that is too fine.

You may also have to discuss with your Vet if a change in diet is necessary.

2. Diabetic Cat Panting

Although feline diabetes can be managed, what if you are caught by surprise that your pet is diabetic and it led to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)?

One of the symptoms of DKA is cat panting. The main cause of DKA is diabetes mellitus in cats. To make it simple to understand what DKA is, it is a complication wherein your cat’s body has to rely too long on burning fat for energy instead of using glucose that the cells need.

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In case DKA is the reason for panting, aggressive medical treatments will be done like IV fluids and blood sugar monitoring.

For as long as you are committed to making your cat healthy (twice a day insulin shots and regular monitoring of blood sugar), then your pussy cat can live a long and happy life.

Just let you know, among cat breeds, Burmese cat seems to be the one that scores the highest in being at risk of having diabetes.

What can you do to prevent cat diabetes? By maintaining an ideal weight and feeding your pet with food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Plus, of course, providing your cat with toys for exercise stimulation.

3. Heartworm

This is a blood-borne parasite nematode (roundworm), that is commonly referred to as cat heartworm.

Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites that carry the heartworm larvae. The larvae migrate into your cat’s heart and pulmonary arteries.

If you notice that your cat pants spontaneously, one of the possible causes is heartworm disease in cats.

Regardless of whether your cat stays indoor or outdoor, the risk of heartworm is the same.

Not to disappoint you, but there is no cure yet for cat heartworm disease. But, it does not mean though that your pet’s life will be shortened. For as long as it is given medical care like anti-inflammatory and breathing aid meds, then your fur baby should be fine.

Another good news is that though there are no meds that can fight off the disease, there are preventive meds for cat heartworm disease.

4. Congestive Heart Failure

This happens when your cat’s heart cannot pump enough blood supply to its body. The result is an accumulation of fluid into its lungs. This could be one of the reasons why it is very difficult for your cat to breathe normally, thus, leading to cat panting, coughing, and rapid breaths.

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The problem with cats having this type of heart problem is their ability to hide their pains. Unlike dogs that may whine, your cat would prefer to suffer in silence. But, as a fur parent, one of the first things you will notice is its fast and labored breathing through its mouth.

Some of the causes of congestive heart failure in cats are thyroid problems, birth defects, and high blood pressure.

Treatment involves fluid drainage and blood vessel dilation meds.

5. Fever

If your feline baby has an infection or perhaps cancer, a rise in body temperature happens. One of the visible signs of fever is panting.

6. Pyothorax

A medical term of saying that there is pus within the chest cavity or the space that surrounds the lungs of your cat. As more pus accumulates, it squeezes the lungs making it very hard to breathe. This then leads to panting.

The condition is more common among younger cats.

There are various ways of treating this condition. Examples are oxygen therapy, pus removal in the chest cavity, and antibiotics.

Though the prognosis is good, if you delay the medical intervention, your cat may suffer from septic shock and die. So, if you see abnormal panting, a visit to the Vet may save your kitty’s life.

If you are in doubt about your kitty’s panting episodes, it will give you peace of mind to talk to a Vet for assessment. Many of the medical conditions we have listed above can cause your cat’s health to deteriorate rapidly and for some cases, the condition may even be fatal.

Fortunately, with proper care, your cat will be given a clean bill of health if the disease is caught and treated early.

Is Cat Panting Normal After Giving Birth?

Not all momma cats are the same. Some may pant after giving birth while some would not. For those momma cats that pant, fast breathing will go away as soon as they have rested. For others that continue to have continuous panting, there could be some medical problems behind the fast breathing.

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Let’s take a look further into cat panting after birth giving:

Cats undergo stress and exertion from birth giving that result to panting. For as long as the momma eats, drinks, and nurses her kittens, then panting should not be a major issue.

In fact, in some cases, panting may be an indication that there could still be kittens inside her womb waiting to be delivered. Cats are known to have interrupted labor wherein the kittens may be delivered as far as two days apart. This is not uncommon.

However, if the fast breathing continues after two days (or when the ultrasound shows no more kittens inside the womb), then the momma cat may have an infection either in the uterus or the mammary gland. Apart from panting, lack of appetite and lethargy are manifested after birth.

Another cause of cat panting after giving birth is hypocalcemia. This is a life-threatening condition wherein the first thing noticeable is excessive panting in pregnant cats or those that just gave birth.

What happens is that the calcium level drops at a dangerous level while nursing. To prevent this kind of emergency, feed your pregnant cat with food that is appropriate for her. Plus, give her vitamins and supplements up until the lactation period.


If compared with dogs, cats do not pant as much. Situations wherein panting is harmless will just go away on its own.

Panting is a normal response for a cat that has just finished playing or exerted an effort such as giving birth. This may also be a normal response for a stressed cat such as an automobile ride. It could also be a response to heat.

The only time that you should worry about is when cat panting is not associated with stress, heat, and physical exertion.

Know the causes of why your cat panting is a part of cat and kitten care.

One thought on “Why Is My Cat Panting? – Cat and Kitten Care

  1. LVA says:

    Just FYI, it’s normal for mom cats to pant for several weeks after giving birth, especially during nursing, because it is caused by the uterus and other organs returning to normal size/place, and nursing stimulates uterine contractions. Please get your information from AVMA or a licensed vet instead of anecdotes of your neighbor’s friend’s cousin’s son’s daughter’s cat.

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