When it comes to pets, a dog's behavior is often considered the standard. So when owners see a cat panting, they think their cat is just relaxed, dehydrated, or tired — which is often why dogs pant. Sometimes people will even mistake it for excitement. But panting in cats is actually not normal at all. This behavior may actually be a sign of a troublesome health concern or complication. Now you may be wondering, "Why is my cat panting?" Let's take a look at what panting means for felines and what you can do to help them.
What Is My Cat Panting Like a Dog?
When you see your kitty with its mouth open and its tongue out, it's probably panting! You'll see their tongue moving a bit, their nostrils flaring a little, and their sides going up and down. You may even hear them breathing heavier. For many feline owners, this behavior is reminiscent of a dog.
Cats will usually be a bit more subtle about their panting than dogs, but after strenuous exercise or overheating, it's possible for cats to start panting — although this is not that common. If your furry feline is panting for an extended period of time, even after drinking water or laying down, it's possible that there's a bigger issue at hand!
Why Is My Cat Panting?
When a feline pants it could be for an assortment of reasons. Below we have listed many of the common causes for panting in cats:
When a cat overheats, they may pant to try and regulate their body temperature — just like dogs. Panting increases an animal's "evaporative cooling" in response to higher-than-normal body temperature. Cats can get sunburns and heatstroke like most mammals, so make sure your cat is not exposed to high temperatures and intense sunlight for very long.
If your cat just had an intense play session, it's possible that they may start panting to catch their breath and restore their proper body temperature. You may notice your cat doing this after exercising, but keep an eye on them. If your feline friend pants for more than a few minutes, there might be something more concerning happening.
Stress & Anxiety
You may recall a photograph being shared in groups on Facebook of a cat with its mouth open, tongue out, and eyes wide. It was in a car, clinging to its new owner. The caption read: "Cat excited to be brought home from the shelter!" While the sentiment was adorable, you couldn't help but think, "That cat looks PETRIFIED!"
If cats are in a scary situation or environment that makes them anxious, they may start to pant. When you take your kitty to the vet you will often see them panting with wide eyes, especially if they are not safely tucked into a carrier. Many owners find this product for cats useful for nervous and fearful pets.
Related Article: CBD for Cat Anxiety - How to Calm with Cannabidiol
When Should You Go To Vet for Cat Panting?
Even though cats are known to pant from heat or stress, it's still a bit uncommon for felines. If it goes on for an uncomfortable amount of time, especially when your cat hasn't just been in the sun or in a scary situation, you should immediately make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Abnormal panting may be accompanied by:
- Lots of drool
- Bright red tongue
- Bleeding from the nose
- Weakness and lethargy
- Diarrhea or vomiting
Your cat may be panting because of asthma. You'll notice that they are wheezing and coughing as well. This might be an allergic reaction, meaning your cat will need medications from the vet.
Cats can get heartworm, which leads to breathing difficulties. A lot of times heartworm disease can be fatal, so you'll need a veterinarian to supply a monthly heartworm preventative. Cats with severe cases may need corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
It can be difficult for a cat to breathe when they have a respiratory infection. These types of infections can lead to panting. Veterinarians will prescribe antibiotics. You can also use humidifiers and steam meanwhile to loosen up your cat's mucus, allowing them a clearer nasal passage.
Congestive Heart Failure
Cats will have deep, rapid breaths, coughing, and panting when there is accumulated fluid around their lungs. A vet may have to drain the fluid from around their lungs or use medications to dilate the blood vessels and make the heart contract with more force.
How to Help a Panting Cat
Cat Panting From Heat Remedies
If your cat is panting from heat, immediately remove them from the sunny or hot area. Put on air conditioning and try providing them with a cool blanket or pillow to lay on. Put ice cubes in their water as well! If your cat is still panting after they are cooled down, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.
Cat Panting After Exercise Remedies
Cats panting from exercise should calm down on their own. But to inspire them to rest, take away all of their toys for a bit. Brush them or pet them to keep them from moving around. Provide them with a cool blanket or pillow and encourage them to drink some water with ice cubes. If they continue to pant, make an appointment with your vet.
Cat Panting From Stress & Anxiety Remedies
Cats experiencing anxiety should be removed from the stressful situation. Cats are creatures of routine. Once they are back in a space where they feel safe, like their cat tree, they should calm down.
Pet them and then give them some space to calm down. If they hide, let them. If your cat still seems uneasy, you might want to drop some CBD oil on their food or give them a few CBD treats if it's not feeding time.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural, non-psychotic phytocannabinoid found in hemp. CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your cat's endocannabinoid system, helping level out their mood. CBD may help them feel relaxed, which is especially helpful during or after an emotional experience.
If your cat continues to pant for an extended period of time, reach out to a vet to find out what could be wrong with your kitty.
Final Thoughts - Why is My Cat Panting?
Unlike in dogs, panting is not normal behavior for cats. When you see your cat breathing heavily with its tongue hanging out of its mouth, don't panic. Even though it's not too common of a symptom, your cat could simply be stressed or overheated. Just make sure you provide them with proper care when you notice this behavior. You can find more about caring for cats here.
Reach out to a vet if they continue panting to find out if there's a more serious problem you weren't aware of. Hopefully, your cat will be feeling better in no time!