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Panting In Cats | Possible Causes & Effective Solutions

It is not uncommon to see dogs with their tongues out, panting heavily after exercising. Dogs breathe heavily to cool their bodies, that is, to remove excess heat from their muscles. However, their feline friends do not share the same trait, so this begins the question, why is my cat panting? So, if you want to know the reason behind why do cats pant, read along.

What Does Cat Panting Sound Like?

Like dogs, cats pant with their tongue hanging outside their mouth and by taking small and shallow breaths. A normal cat takes anywhere between 15 to 30 breaths a minute. This number can increase or decrease based on whether the cat has been resting, eating or exerting itself. Depending upon the cause of this cat panting like a dog issue, the cat might also be standing alert, lying down, lethargic, or running around in excitement.

Why is My Cat Panting?

Unlike dogs, cats usually don’t pant for extended periods after exercising, nor is panting common in cats. When cats start panting (generally after very strenuous exercise or due to high temperature), it doesn’t last long as a cat’s body is small and it quickly becomes cool. Since it is uncommon for cats to pant, what is the reason behind ‘why is my cat panting with her mouth open?’ They can broadly divide the cause of panting in cats into two categories, normal panting and abnormal panting.

What Causes Panting in Cats? (Normal Panting)

What causes panting in cats? Mostly normal panting can occur due to some common factors like the following:

#1 Exercising/Playing

Physical exhaustion can be the reason for cat panting. It is an important everyday event for pets. Exercising helps them to maintain a healthy body and a stress-free mind. Sometimes, cats get too excited while playing with their owners, or with their favorite cat mouse toy and start running and jumping around excessively. This jumping around generates stress on their body, which leads to cat panting after playing. Panting in such situations is not uncommon. Ensure that if the feline is panting heavily, it receives ample rest to cool off before continuing to play with them.

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#2 Overheating

If a cat continues to exert itself, even when panting heavily, it might lead to overheating. Overheating is the condition in which the body temperature of a cat becomes higher than normal. In situations like these, pet owners need to pay close attention to their cats and see if they are showing any other cat overheating symptoms, such as drooling, not wanting to eat nor using their best cat little box, staggering steps, etc. If they show any symptoms, it is important to contact or take the cat to a pet emergency immediately.

#3 Stress

Do cats pant when stressed? Yes. The major cause of panting might be stress. Cats can get stressed for various reasons, be it that they are uncomfortable in their surroundings or in the present situation. For instance, many cats start to pant while visiting the vet, when visiting a friend’s home, or when travelling. In situations like these, it is important to identify what is giving the cat anxiety, be it the unknown area, motion sickness or a person. Once identified, owners should distance the cat from the ‘stress-inducing object’, and the cat should return to its normal self shortly. 

Treatments for Normal Panting in Cats

Normal panting is a part of a feline’s day-to-day life; not much action needs to be taken except monitoring them until they breathe normally in a little while. So, what to do if your cat is panting? Suppose, If the cat has a high temperature from physical activity, take them to a cool place and give it plenty of water. Once the cat has rested, it will cool down, and the panting will stop. 

Suppose a cat does not stop panting heavily after 5 or so minutes of exercising or after being removed from the stressful environment or is panting randomly without any prior cause or reason. In that case, the cat is most likely panting abnormally.

What Causes Abnormal Panting in Cats?

When it comes to abnormal panting in cats, below things could be the triggering factors:

#1 Trauma or Injury

Abnormal panting can have various causes, one of the most common ones being pain due to an injury or trauma. The behaviour of cats changes when they are in pain. They might stop eating, start to consistently lick a certain part of their body and also breathe with an open mouth. All these are clues one can use to deduce that the cat is in pain and needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian.

#2 Medical Illness

An underlying medical condition might be another cause of heavy panting, either randomly or at various times throughout the day. Panting is a symptom of many medical illnesses. Diseases such as respiratory diseases (e.g. Asthma, Herpes virus), heart diseases (e.g. Heartworm disease, heart failure), trauma (Injury), neurologic disease, etc.

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#3 Dyspnea

Dyspnea stands for respiratory distress. It is a clinical sign that the feline can experience trouble breathing. Generally, cat dyspnea is caused due to problems in the lungs or airways. Dyspnea can be sudden, develop over time, or be congenital.

Other symptoms like aggression, lethargy, a loss of appetite, blue gums etc usually accompany abnormal panting., due to the same underlying condition. In cases of cat breathing heavy, we recommend that one should contact their veterinarian and seek medical help for their pet as soon as possible.

Treatment for Abnormal Panting in a Cat

Treatment for abnormal panting has a wide range. Veterinarians generally use antibiotics to treat infections, if any. In the case of asthma, inhalers are used. Surgery is done for heart conditions. Cats suffering from cancer may also require surgery in addition to radiation therapy. Abnormal panting can be due to a large variety of reasons. Similarly, it has a wide range of treatments as well. It is best to meet a veterinarian and discuss the correct treatment for the latest.

When is Cat Panting An Emergency? 

Kitten panting becomes an emergency when the panting occurs without any physical exertion or stress. It also might be serious if it doesn’t stop in a matter of minutes after exercising. Some other symptoms, like weakness/lethargy and coughing/breathing difficulties, might also be signs of an emergency. Another sign of a worsening situation is when the cat’s tongue turns a light shade of purple/blue or a bright shade of red. 

In emergencies, the cat owner must note all the symptoms the cat is experiencing. When communicated to the veterinarian, these symptoms can help him determine the cause of the panting and the tests that need to be done to understand the cause and give a proper diagnosis.

A breathing rate of more than 40 breaths per minute sustained for more than 5 minutes indicates that the cat is having trouble breathing and needs veterinary attention.


Panting is often the first sign/symptom of a serious medical issue. Cats are only hot if the latest only breathes heavily for a little while after exercising heavily. If they start to pant heavily without any exercise or stress, one should take them to the veterinarian to get a check-up.