Why Is My Cat Panting? Don’t Stress, 5 Intriguing Reasons Why

first time cat owner guide

Why is my cat breathing heavy, and without a stop? Should I be worried? Well, it can be unsettling to any cat owner who has never seen cats panting. And unlike dogs, it’s not common to see cats breathing rapidly. However, if it happens, panting is a normal natural response in cats after exercising or overheating. And a cat panting is manageable through home care.

However, trouble will start if the panting is a symptom of an underlying condition. And such warrants you to visit your vet. So, why is your cat panting? Continue reading to understand what could be causing the rapid breathing in cats.

What Is Panting?

Cat panting is an involuntary body response whereby a cat exhales and inhales while the mouth is mildly open and the tongue slightly out. Often you will find such a reaction in dogs when cooling themselves, after long demanding exercise sessions, or after walking on a hot day. And so, it can happen in cats, but rare to see, as earlier mentioned.

Stress, excess heat, or fatigue after play sessions can be reasons for a panting cat. In the case of stress, the cat is panting to ease up the tension and stress.  Consequently, your cat will pant as a way of letting out excess heat on the body either after a long walk during a sunny day or after demanding play sessions. And such panting is quite manageable at home.

When to Be Concerned if Your Cat Is Panting

If your cat has not walked during a hot day or hasn’t been playing around with her favorite toy and you see your cat panting like a dog, then you ought to be concerned. Often such cat panting with an unexplained reason can be unsettling to anyone.

Watch out for the following signs and symptoms.

Abnormal movement of the abdomen

Check whether the abdomen is expanding and contracting unusually. This often shows the cat is struggling to let in air and out of the lungs.

Pale and blue-tinged gums

Pale gums will signify that your cat is not getting enough oxygenated blood to its system.

Lethargy and loss of interest

If your cat pants and she seems uninterested in games she used to love, then something could be wrong.

Signs of distress

Is your cat hiding from everyone and does she seem overly stressed?

Other signs:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Panting accompanied by wheezing
  • Loud and raspy panting
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Heavy drooling
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

If you see your cat panting and you notice any of these symptoms, call your vet or visit your nearest veterinarian. The vet will be in a better position to assess the root cause of the panting.

Fun Fact: Some cats like the Himalayans, Persians, and the Maine Coon  are most susceptible to cat panting compared to other cat breeds.

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Why Does My Cat Pant? Some of the Top Causes.

So why is my cat breathing fast? Below are some of the conditions that will subject your cat to rapid breathing sessions.


Asthma is a respiratory condition common in the feline family. Often this condition is characterized by the inflammation of the lungs. Often allergies cause 90% of cat’s asthma cases. With the inflamed lungs, you will notice your cat panting to get plenty of oxygen that the body requires. Your cat may even start wheezing and coughing because of the constricted airways.


Heartworm not only attacks dogs but cats as well. Small parasites can invade your cat’s lungs and heart and be causing major internal issues. These parasites often trigger a condition known as heartworm association respiratory diseases (HARD). Then, these respiratory diseases attack your cat’s cardiovascular and breathing system leading to rapid breathing of your cat. If not treated early, this condition can be fatal. This is why most vets recommend that you do a heartworm test on your cat monthly.

Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive heart failure is a condition most prevalent in some cat breeds, for example, the Maine coon cat. Often, the condition starts when the cat is still young and never shows any outward signs. So, what’s the relation between this condition and cat panting? Well, this disease causes fluid to fill up in and around your cat’s lungs. And with that, your cat’s lung capacity reduces, thus reducing oxygen levels. Overall, your cat will present itself as if she is gasping for air now and then, accompanied by an unending cough. Consequently, if not treated early, this congestive heart failure can lead to death.

Highlight: this condition is often hereditary. Always check out with the breeder you are to get your kitten from whether he is legit.

Consider asking the vet about the kitten’s parent’s health history. Cats with this condition should be spayed or neutered. With that, there will be no inheritance of this condition to the next generation.

Respiratory Infections

Like we humans, cats are susceptible to respiratory infections. Bacteria and viruses often cause these infections and may cause cat panting. Your cat will have similar symptoms to us, humans when we suffer from a bout of the flu. Your cat may start sneezing, develop a runny nose, and lastly, you may see your cat hyperventilating.


Anemia is another underlying condition that will cause cat panting. Anemia causes a deficiency of RBCs in your cat’s body. With less oxygenated blood, your cat may start panting or breathing rapidly in a bid to get more air.

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What to Do If My Cat Is Panting

If your cat has just finished a play session or a hot walk on a sunny day, it will be easier to control any cat panting. Follow the recommendations below if your cat does not have any underlying conditions:

Caused By Excessive Heat?

Do cats pant when hot? Yes, they do, as this is one of the main reasons for cat panting. Let your cat stay in a cool place, where she can release the excess heat. Also, give your cat some cold water. This can help cool down her body, relax and get her body temperature back to normal. If you follow these steps, your cat’s breathing will ease up after a few minutes.

Cat Panting After Playing?

Like humans, your cat may just be gasping for air after extraneous exercise. Give your cat a cool place to sit with some water and let them relax. Typically, I always notice my cat is breathing hard after exercise. It could also mean she is out of shape and needs more regular playtime.

Caused By Stress?

As earlier said, stress can be a leading cause of cat panting. Thus seek ways you can phase out what’s stressing your cat. Although sometimes it can be hard to discern what is stressing your cat. Dogs, other cats, noise, and people are some of the triggers that can cause your cat to develop stress.

It’s worthy to note that you should always stay calm when you note your cat is stressed. Showing signs of distress to your cat when she is already stressed up may worsen the situation.

Can My Kitten Panting Be A Sign Of A Disease?

Unless you are a veterinarian, don’t take matters into your own hands. Take your cat to a vet if you can’t understand what’s triggering the panting. Here are some of the treatment options your vet will follow.

  • Respiratory Infections

In the case of a respiratory infection, the doctor may recommend a blood test to ascertain which pathogen is responsible. If it’s bacterial, your cat will take antibiotics for 5-7 days.

The vet may also recommend humidifiers and steamers to loosen the mucus along the nasal passage.

  • Congestive Heart Failure

The doctor may recommend draining the excess fluid inside your cat’s lungs.

  • Heartworm

Corticosteroids and supportive care will help relieve the effects of heartworm on your cat.

  • The vet may also use a special stethoscope to listen to your cat’s palpations and breathing rhythm.
  • Also, the vet may recommend a chest x-ray to check whether there is a tumor in the chest area.
  • An ECG may be completed to evaluate your cat’s heart structure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Cat Panting In The Car?

Car rides and travels often don’t sit well with cats. More so, over 90 % of cats hate traveling. So cat panting can definitely occur when you are traveling with them inside a car. Often it’s a sign of stress as they don’t enjoy the whole experience of traveling. In that case, always train your cat traveling in a car when she’s still a kitten. Let the cat associate the car with positive things or feelings.

Another reason that could cause cat panting in the car can be excessive heat. Thus she may be panting to cool herself down. In that case, turn on the air conditioner. Also, you can open the car’s window and let a cool breeze of airflow.

It is important to also have the right cat carrier for car travels, as this can provide a cozier ride for your cat. Check out our list of the Best Cat Carriers For Car Travel.

Why Is My Cat Panting After Giving Birth?

Panting after giving birth is often a symptom of a condition known as postpartum eclampsia. Otherwise known as milk fever, this condition is caused by a deficiency of calcium in your cat’s bloodstream. It’s worthy to note this condition occurs 2- 4 weeks after your cat gives birth. Often life threatening, consider consulting your vet if your cat start having muscle tremors, seizures and unending panting.

Why Do Cats Pant? Is It Dangerous?

Depending on the causation factors, cat panting can either be a dangerous situation or else an occurrence one can assume. In the case your cat is panting to cool herself down after romping up and down, then the rapid breathing should not be an issue. However, if your kitten breathing fast has an explained source, and your cat appears sick, it is dangerous.  And with that, take your cat to a vet.

What Does Cat Panting Look Like?

When your cat is panting, you will see the following: a cat mouth open or a cat breathing thru mouth. You will see your cat breathes through mouth very rapidly. With the cats mouth open, it will seem almost as if your cat is gasping for air very quickly, like how humans are after a long run.

Why Is My Cat Breathing Hard For No Reason?

If you don’t believe there were no changes in the environment, no reason to overheat, and no excess stress, you should probably take your cat to the vet. A cat with open mouth shouldn’t automatically mean a reason to stress.

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It’s rare to find a cat panting. However, if present, some of it is often normal. Some factors will cause your cat to pant, and sometimes they are not fatal.

These factors include:

  • Anxiousness
  • Overheating
  • Fatigue after exercising
  • Stress

Other fatal conditions may be the reason why your cat is panting. These include:

  • Asthma
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heartworm
  • Respiratory infection

Final Thought

In conclusion, various factors can cause your cat panting to occur. Some of the conditions are manageable at home, whereas others need a vet checkup. If unclear, always consider consulting your vet before things get out of hand.

Now on to you, have you ever seen your cat panting? And if so, how did you handle the situation? Kindly tell us down here in the comment section.

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For more articles on cat care tips, advice on cat health and wellness & product reviews, check out our blog – TheQuintessentialGuide.

first time cat owner guide
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