Why Do Cats Pant? | When Panting Is Abnormal on a Cat & What to Do

Why Do Cats Pant? | When Panting Is Abnormal on a Cat & What to Do - OutdoorBengal

Do Cats Pant Like Dogs?

In a technical sense, cats do pant. But cats don't pant as easily as dogs, who aggressively pant to cool themselves after activity. When a cat is panting, which can happen but is uncommon, the symptoms are usually directly related to hard work, last for a brief period, and then disappear.

Outwardly, cat panting with mouth open resembles panting in dogs; cats will breathe with their mouths open and their tongues out, generating louder breath noises than usual. Although all cats can physically pant, several breeds are more prone to it due to their respiratory systems or coats. These cat breeds include the long-haired Maine Coon and other long-faced varieties and the Himalayan and Persian cats, which have flatter faces and narrower nostrils.

Let´s review why do cats pant and how you can help your cat if they are panting!

Why do Cats Pant?

Because of their very efficient bodies, cats rarely breathe through their lips. Thus, we may infer something is wrong when we observe a cat panting. Cats' typical causes of panting include:

  • Recently intense play
  • A new stressor, such as home renovations, a new resident, or a new pet
  • Fear of traveling
  • Overheating

Cats will occasionally pant for a minimal length of time. These "typical" situations can include when a cat is tense, stressed, hot, or has recently finished an intense workout.

However, you must intervene if you notice your cat panting in these situations and give it a chance to rest, unwind, or cool off. It's time to schedule an immediate appointment with your veterinarian if your cat won't stop panting.

Cat Panting With Mouth Open and Tongue Out

Although it's not nearly as common, panting in cats can resemble that in dogs.
Your cat or kitten will take shallow breaths in and out while holding its mouth open and tongue partially out. While doing this, your cat is probably lying down, but if they are anxious about the scenario, they may be attentive and standing.

Bengal Cat Panting

Here´s a picture of my Bengal Cat Mia with me on a beach... it was a little too hot for her so we had to seek shade because she was panting with her tongue out.

Is Cat Panting Dangerous?

The occasional panting of cats is typical, not dangerous. Think about what your cat was doing or going through before you heard him panting. Cats may pant like dogs when they are overheated, nervous, or anxious or after vigorous exercise. 

Both excessively cold and extremely hot temperatures can be dangerous for your cat. Your cat will be most comfortable in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius). Hotter weather might lead your cat to heatstroke, more on this later in this article.

However, compared to dogs, cats rarely exhibit this type of panting. Therefore, it is worthwhile to see your veterinarian if you're unsure of the cause of your cat's panting.

Normal Cat Panting

Dyspnea (difficulty) and excessive breathing, called panting, call for the mouth to be open. When a cat pants, its breathing is brisk, and its tongues typically protrude. Since cats normally breathe via their noses, natural panting is typically caused by one of the following:

  • Exercise or excitement.
  • Birth.
  • Elevated temperatures.
  • Worry or dread.

Cat Panting While Playing

After excess play or after getting zoomies, cats can pant. It's not an issue for a cat to pant after exercise. Your cat might need a few minutes to collect her breath after a short race like humans.

Stop playing with your cat for a moment and give her a chance to recover her breath if you notice them panting.

Cat Panting on the Heat

Cats are not very good at tolerating extreme temperatures.

Cat panting with mouth open typically in response to heat. A panting cat is probably already extremely hot. Take her to a room in your house that is cold and dark and has an air conditioner, a fan, or both. Rest and attempt to calm down your cat.

Cat Panting and Meowing

While some panting in cats is typical, it may indicate a severe issue that requires urgent veterinarian attention in other circumstances. You must understand what's specific for your cat and what is out of the ordinary because changes in your cat's vocalization habits could indicate medical or health issues.

Your cat might be attempting to tell you he's sick, in pain, or unhappy if he frequently engages in conversation but suddenly stops or if your usually reserved cat suddenly becomes noisy and pushy.

How to Get a Cat to Stop Panting?

When a cat's panting is a consequence of a  pathological condition, the best way to treat will be better assessed by a veterinarian.

Nevertheless, if your cat is panting for some of the reasons outlined above like heat or aggressive play there are ways we can prevent the cat from panting. To help a panting cat:

  • Offer them to seek shelter/shade
  • Offer them water and keep them hydrated
  • Help them decrease body temperature

A panting cat because of excess heat can be at risk of getting a heatstroke, stop what you are doing and try to help them cool down.

Abnormal Panting - Health Issues Causing Cat to Pant

If you’ve checked your cat’s activity and temperature, and they aren't tired from exercise, stressed, or too warm, her heavy or labored breathing may be an indication of a serious medical issue. In this case, emergency veterinary care is required. With early intervention, we may be able to reduce recovery time, or even save a life.

In cats, abnormal panting often begins suddenly or without a cause. Additionally, it does not go away fast with rest, the elimination of the stressor, or the removal of heat. It is frequently accompanied by other odd behaviors, including coughing, drowsiness, and an accelerated breathing rate.

Any cat can exhibit abnormal panting, although kittens and older cats are frequently more vulnerable. Excessive cat panting with mouth open and other concerning behaviors are commonly linked to an underlying illness.

The most typical root causes of abnormal panting in cats are listed below:

Respiratory Infection

Viruses, bacteria, and even fungi can cause various respiratory diseases in cats within their lungs and nasal passages. The body's immune system develops a significant inflammatory reaction to combat the infection when these infectious organisms settle in the respiratory system, causing a condition remarkably reminiscent of an asthmatic cat.

In addition to having trouble breathing (either too quickly or with too much effort), cats with respiratory inflammation may cough, pant, and display extreme lethargy.

These infections are typically viral and can make it difficult for cats to breathe, leading to heavy breathing. If a secondary bacterial infection develops, your cat may need to be treated with antibiotics.

Steam and humidifiers can help loosen mucus and ease nasal breathing as your cat recovers.


This treatable condition can cause cats to cough, wheeze and pant. It may also cause an increased respiratory rate. Medications such as bronchodilators or corticosteroids are often taken to treat asthma in cats.

Asthmatic cats frequently cough, wheeze, pant, or breathe much more quickly than usual. They may even vomit. Although the severity of this illness in cats varies, it can be life-threatening during an asthma attack, much like in humans. Fortunately, cat asthma can be effectively treated using bronchodilators and inhaler therapy to deliver steroids into the lungs.

Congestive Heart Failure

Fluid can build up in and around a cat’s lungs, which causes coughing, deep, rapid breathing and panting. Your vet may need to drain the fluid and prescribe medications to eliminate excess fluid, dilate blood vessels and force the heart to contract more forcefully to treat the condition.

Cats can develop various heart conditions, including congestive heart failure, characterized by fluid buildup and accumulation in and around the lungs. Many vets and cat owners are frustrated by the possibility that many cats have heart disease but go untreated until they experience complete failure.

Especially about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (or HCM). In this condition, the heart muscle thickens, loses flexibility, and must beat considerably quicker and inefficiently due to its bulk. Affected cats may experience breathing problems, panting, coughing, decreased appetite, weight loss, and, in severe cases, a danger of blood clots forming and traveling to other body parts. This condition is prevalent in the Maine Coon breed.


Heartworm can easily cause breathing problems in cats. Because the disease can be fatal, it’s important to ensure your cat is kept on a monthly heartworm preventative medication. Treatment for the disease may include supportive care using corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. In more serious cases, oxygen therapy may be needed.

Following a mosquito bite from an infected insect, cats can also contract heartworm disease. Cats with heartworm infection may cough, pant, and have difficulty breathing. Sadly, this illness in cats frequently proves fatal, and there is no known cure. However, try treating these cats with oxygen and steroids to lessen the inflammation this parasite brings.

Consult your veterinarian to learn more about the monthly heartworm preventatives for cats that are available to shield your furry family member from the disease.

Other Conditions

Pain, neurologic disorders, enlargement of the abdomen, trauma and anemia can also cause cats to display heavy breathing or panting.

Cats can Pant Before Dying

Usually, your cat panting with its mouth open indicates something wrong with them. Cats breathe heavily with their jaws open when they are anxious, excessively hot, or during a disease process. Typical indications that a cat is dying include blatant shifts in disposition, increased hiding behavior, a lack of desire for food and water, and alterations in general look. Changes in appearance can consist of dull, matted fur, feces or urine in their hair, glazed or dilated eyes, not blinking, and a "sunken" appearance. In addition to having convulsions, dying cats frequently experience breathing problems.

Stay Wild, Stay Safe... we'll see you outdoors

Albert & Mia

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