7 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Panting

Panting isn’t something most pet owners expect from their feline friend. It could make you worry that something is wrong with your cat. Though it’s not common, cats sometimes pant based on the situation. In fact, in this article we are going to look at 7 reasons why your cat is panting.

Most of the time, your cat or kitten could pant if they’re stressed, too hot, or tired  from physical activity. In those situations, they just need to rest and cool down. However, some  health concerns can cause panting, so paying attention to your cat’s behavior is important. 

What Does Cat Panting Look Like? 

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Panting

Panting in cats can look similar to a dog panting, but it’s not nearly as common. Dogs pant to cool themselves down, and it’s a normal part of their behavior. For cats, it isn’t considered  normal. When your cat pants, they’ll have their mouth open, tongue partially out, and breathe with quick, shallow breaths. This rapid breathing might be done lying down, but they might be standing  and alert if the situation is stressful. 

Although dogs cool themselves through their mouth in a panting action, cats typically don’t.  Even on a hot day and with strenuous exercise, cats are like humans. They tend to lick their coats and sweat out the heat as the moisture evaporates. Interestingly, both cats and dogs eliminate some heat through their paws. 

What Causes Cat Panting? 

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Panting

Several things might cause panting. We’ve compiled a brief list of potential causes below.  However, if you’re ever concerned about your cat, be safe and take them to the vet right away.  

1. Asthma 

Asthma is chronic lung inflammation and is relatively common in cats. Feline asthma can be  compared to human asthma and has several similar triggers, including stress, cold, and  allergens. These types of situations can cause a feline asthma attack. Your cat might cough,  wheeze, pant, and experience a higher respiratory rate. 

2. Heartworms 

Heartworms are small parasites. They can infect your cat or kitten’s heart or lungs. They cause Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD), a serious illness. Heartworm disease can cause your cat to  pant, wheeze, or cough. 

Heartworms and HARD can quickly turn serious. Keep an eye out for additional symptoms accompanying any panting, such as fatigue, hiding, poor appetite, wheezing, coughing, or  indications of respiratory distress. 

Thankfully, preventative heartworm medication is available for cats. Heartgard Chewables for Cats are a great option for consistent protection and also control hookworm infections. 

3. Congestive Heart Failure 

Heart problems can, unfortunately, be common in cats. Worse, many go unnoticed. Depending  on the specific heart problem, your cat may not show any visible symptoms until the condition  worsens and becomes a serious issue.

Heart failure can cause fluid buildup around the lungs. That fluid reduces lung capacity and  oxygen levels. Panting, accelerated breathing, and pale, blue-tinged gums can indicate congestive heart failure. Contact your veterinarian immediately or seek emergency care if your cat displays any of these symptoms. 

4. Respiratory Infection 

Cats and kittens can be particularly susceptible to upper respiratory infections. It is also called cat flu. Coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and panting associated with a respiratory infection  appear similar to a human cold. Schedule a visit with your vet to ensure they treat your cat early before the condition gets worse. They’ll be able to prescribe medications and treatment. 

5. Anemia 

Red blood cells circulate oxygen to the body. If your cat is anemic and not getting enough oxygen because of that, it can manifest as panting, rapid or heavy breathing, and fatigue. 

6. Stress Or Trauma 

Signs of distress and emotional trauma affect cats and kittens in various ways. Your cat might hide, shake, have accidents outside the litter box, vocalize loudly, or pant. Depending on the trigger, the symptoms can dissipate when the trigger is gone or if you calm your cat. Suppose your cat  previously lived in an abusive environment or experienced neglect. In that case, they may need  special care to get them through that traumatic event. 

One common stress is hot weather.  Although cats are great at regulating their temperature, heat stress does happen. A couple of ice cubes to lick, possibly wiping them down with a damp towel, and bringing them inside to the air condition are all great steps to try helping them return to normal behavior. 

If it’s an indoor cat, and they are showing loss of appetite there might be a different underlying cause. Be sure to feed your cat on a regular basis. This will help determine lack of appetite if they don’t feed at their normal time.

Being regularly stressed is not good for your cat’s health. It can even cause a greater serious problem. You can try something like calming cat treats. Vetriscience Composure Calming treats are highly recommended and rated. 

7. Pain 

Cats are very good at disguising pain because of their natural defense mechanisms, which means pain can present in many ways. Panting can be a sign that your cat is unhappy. If you also see symptoms such as aggressive behavior, a fast pulse, increased vocalization, excessive  purring, mobility changes, or odd eating behaviors, your cat is likely in pain and requires medical attention right away. 

What to Do If Your Cat is Panting

If your cat has problems breathing or is panting, take her to the vet immediately. While  transporting her, you’ll want to reduce her stress as much as possible. Use a box or cat carrier  to keep your pet safe so being held doesn’t compromise her breathing.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Panting Cat 

7 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Panting

Regular veterinary care is the key to avoiding health issues for your furry friend. A vet visit should be done at minimum twice a year. Emergency vet visits can be way more expensive than a regular checkup. 

However, if your cat is diagnosed with excessive panting typically a vet will immediately give your cat oxygen if she is in respiratory distress. Your veterinarian will also want to wait for your cat to calm down and check their body temperature. Once your cat seems calm, the vet will thoroughly examine her, paying close attention to how her lungs and heart sound. The vet will  also typically order chest x-rays. 

Suppose your vet finds signs of fluid buildup in the chest. In that case, they will focus on  treating the condition by extracting the excess fluid with a needle. They’ll also need to prevent  it from accumulating again. While most cats tolerate this well, preventing more fluid buildup can prove difficult based on what is causing your cat’s breathing problems. 

Your vet will want your cat to be strong and healthy enough to eat and drink on her own and  return to her typical activities. Your cat may need to be hospitalized for a few days while on IV fluids and prescription medication. Oxygen therapy for your cat could also be necessary. She  might only need this for a short while, or your cat might need oxygen for the long-term or  indefinitely. 

Take A Deep Breadth…

When you’re concerned about your pet’s health, take them to the vet. While we provide a list of common reasons a cat could be panting, trust us, you will breadth better once you know for sure what is going on.  

One other suggestion is to take a quick video with your phone of the symptoms your cat is expressing.  That way, if it tends to go away before arriving at the vet you can always show them directly what you were seeing. 

It’s always best to air on the side of caution. Panting isn’t common, but it could be something mild. The best way to be  sure is to have your cat checked out by the vet. 

Until next time,


Caution:  Here at FurBallFun.com we aim to inform you with pet related product reviews, factual advice for pet care, and fun toys of course. Although we do occasionally collaborate with licensed veterinarians, it does not replace you taking your pet to the vet and getting them the care they need. If you’re not sure, take them to the vet

Corey Turner
Corey Turner, owner of FurBallFun.com, draws on a lifelong love for dogs and extensive pet ownership to offer a unique perspective in the pet industry. With a successful background in project management, he excels in critical analysis, precise attention to detail, and quality assurance. This expertise allows him to effectively differentiate true value from marketing hype in the pet sector. Corey’s contributions have been featured in various publications including Rockery Press Guide Books and WealthofGeeks.com. During his free time, he enjoys disc golfing, rock climbing, and bonding with his cherished FurBall friend, Harvey.