Why is My Cat Panting?

Posted: 06/02/2022 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories:

You know that dogs pant but what about cats? Do they ever pant? Well, the answer is yes, cats do sometimes pant. But the thing to understand is that cats pant for different reasons than dogs. While a dog panting is generally a natural and benign occurrence, cat panting is often a sign that your cat may be experiencing a medical emergency.

Why Do Cats Pant?

why do cats pant?

When humans need to cool ourselves on a hot day, we sweat. Cats and dogs do not have this ability because they are covered in hair. They may sweat a little bit from the bottom of their pads, but this won’t release enough heat from their bodies.

While it’s common to see dogs panting on a hot day to cool themselves, we don’t typically see cats walking around panting in the same way. Should a cat become overheated then yes, they will begin to pant to release that excess heat. But unlike dogs, cats are designed to adapt to many outdoor climates, so they won’t need to pant as much.

Having said this, if your AC isn’t working and your house is extremely hot, and your cat is panting, you will need to cool them down ASAP. If they continue to pant, you will want to contact your vet or an emergency vet if it is after hours.

The following are some other reasons why cats pant:

They are Stressed

A cat is more likely to pant when they are feeling stressed. Some cats, for instance, do so bad on car rides that they pant for most of the journey. Using a pheromone spray can really help calm your cat when they go to the vet or need to travel for another reason.

If your cat is one of those that don’t respond to pheromone sprays, speak with your vet about prescribing a calming medication that can be given prior to getting them into the carrier and into the car.

A Potential Heart Issue

cat panting

Cats that have developed a heart issue will typically pant every so often. Even young cats can have an underlying congenital heart condition. The most common genetic heart condition is called cardiomyopathy, which is a structural disease of the heart muscle.

According to the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, the cat breeds that are more prone to cardiomyopathy include:

  • Maine Coon
  • Ragdoll
  • British Shorthair
  • Sphynx
  • Persian

If you’ve noticed your cat panting here and there, especially if they are an older cat, speak with your vet about a possible heart issue.

A Potential Respiratory Disease

Cats can develop respiratory illnesses that cause them to pant. Viral infections like herpes or nasal polyps and tumors make it hard for cats to breathe out of their nose as usual, causing panting.

Some cats suffer from asthma and when their nasal airways become constricted, they may need to breathe through their mouth to get more oxygen.

And finally, cats can also develop lung infections, which can restrict their breathing, causing them to pant.

Overexertion

cats panting

Like people, sometimes cats simply overexert themselves and find they need to breathe harder. You may have a little kitten that gets over excited by a new toy and when first being exposed to catnip. He or she may get so excited and play so hard that they begin to pant.

Similarly, an older, ore sedentary cat may be given a toy that they spazz over and run around more than they typically do. This overexertion may also cause them to do a bit of panting.

In either scenario, try and calm your cat down. Their panting should stop within a minute or two. If it doesn’t, contact your vet.

When Is Cat Panting an Emergency?

Cat panting can quickly turn into an emergency if it goes on for too long. It is important to watch your cat closely to look for signs of an emergency. If their tongue is turning a blue or purple color, this is a sign of an emergency. If they are lying down, not wanting to move around, and they are taking more than 40 breaths per minute, this is also a sign of respiratory distress and a need to be seen by a vet immediately.

And finally, if the panting continues for more than 5 minutes after a stressful event is over, or after they have overexerted themselves (especially older cats) seek medical attention.

cat panting causes

Keeping Your Cat Healthy

If your like most pet owners, you love your cat like family and want to do everything possible to keep them healthy and happy. This isn’t always easy, because top veterinary care can cost quite a bit. And that’s an awful feeling, being faced with a medical emergency or finding out your fur baby has a medical condition and wondering how you are going to pay for their care.

And this is exactly why Pet Insurance Review was started. We are pet owners ourselves and we wanted to help other pet owners who are struggling with vet bills. We research to find only the best pet health insurance plans that can help you keep your best friend healthy. For instance, some plans actually reimburse you for up to 90% of the vet bill.

Don’t let high vet bills stop you from providing the care your cat deserves. Get a free quote today.

References:

  1. Petmd: https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/how-do-cats-sweat
  2. Top Cat Breeds: https://topcatbreeds.com/do-cats-pant-when-stressed/
  3. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/diagnosis-heart-disease
  4. VCA Animal Hospitals: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nasal-polyps-in-cats

 

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