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Why Do Cats Pant? The Answer!

A lot of people often erroneously believe that it is normal for cats to pant just because dogs often pant.

Yes, it is okay for dogs to pant, but it is not normal for cats to pant for a long time. Before going further, let’s quickly explain what panting is. It is the act of breathing heavily through the mouth.

This article explains why cats pant, when it is normal, and when it is abnormal. 


Why do cats pant?

First off, like humans, cats pant after a vigorous exercise. Also, cats pant when they are hot, when they are stressed, or when they are excited. This kind of panting is usually for a very short period of time, after which the panting will resolve. You don’t have to worry about short panting. 


When should you worry about your cat’s panting?

If your cat does not stop panting after a few minutes, then you need to get worried. Panting is not a problem, but prolonged panting is a telltale sign of an underlying medical condition for your cat. That’s why we will advise you to see a vet if your cat does not stop panting after 10 minutes.

Furthermore, if the panting is accompanied by any of the following conditions, you should be almost certain that he has serious health issues. 

Constant tiredness: If you notice that your cat is almost always tired and he pants often, he might be having a respiratory issue.

Bleeding in the nose or mouth: If the panting comes with bleeding either in the mouth or in the nose, you should call your vet as soon as possible. 

Loss of appetite: If your cat pants often and he hardly eats his food, then you should be sure that something is going on in his system.

Aggressiveness: Combining panting with aggression is a clear sign that your cat is in pain. 

Solitude: Watch out if your cat keeps to himself. This is another sign of an ailment.

For any of these signs, call your vet as quickly as possible. When it comes to healthcare, a stich in time saves more than nine. 


What are the medical conditions that can cause panting?

As mentioned earlier, the concern of panting in cats is that it could be a sign of a medical condition that has not festered. So, you may want to know some of the ailments that could make your cat pant for a long time. Some of them are:

Respiratory Infection – This ailment makes it difficult for cats to breathe easily. So, they resort to breathing through their mouths. This is what causes prolonged panting. In this situation, mucus build-up could make the situation worse. Applying steam could help to loosen the mucus.

Asthma – This disease causes coughing, wheezing, and panting in cats. Fortunately, this ailment is treatable in cats. 

Fluid Build-Up – When fluid builds up around the lungs of cats, it causes them to get tired easily, and they are almost always panting. The fluid around the lungs has to be drained. 

Apart from these common ones, other conditions like heartworm, pain, abdominal enlargement, and neurologic disorders can cause panting in cats. 


What to do when your cat is panting 

When you notice that your cat is panting heavily, the first thing to do is to find out why he is panting. This will determine the next step to take.

As mentioned earlier, your cat can begin to pant when he is stressed. People find it hard to believe that a car ride can stress a cat out because it is comfortable for humans.

Yes, when you allow your cat to look outside the window, he may get stressed looking at images passing by at a very high speed. Keeping him in his bag on the floor could reduce his chances of getting stressed.

So, if you notice that your cat suddenly starts panting while in the car with you, reduce your speed until you find where to park your car. Find a way to keep him away from the window.

Cats also pant when they are hot. Taking them out for a walk in the sun is the easiest way to get your cat hot. Once you notice that your cat is panting heavily, you may need to end the walk.

Go to a cooler area and rest for some minutes before heading back home. If this happens again during another walk, cancel afternoon walks completely. Take him out in the mornings and evenings.

Don’t get this twisted. There’s nothing wrong with taking your cat for a walk in the afternoon if this doesn’t stress him out.

“My cat loves afternoon walks” does not mean it is good for him. After all, babies love to touch a candle fire, but we never allow them to get close to the fire.

It’s fun to watch your cat chase his toy while you hang it over him without letting him catch it. Even cats love to chase their toys endlessly.

However, there should be a limit to this. Once your cat starts to breathe heavily, it might be time to stop the game.

In case that your cat is panting because of heat, it is important that you cool him down. And the best way to do this is to give him cold water to drink to cool his system.

Unfortunately, cats are usually not too eager to drink water. And they can be stubborn about it. Forcing a cat to drink water is a hard task. If your cat refuses to drink water, don’t force him.

An alternative is to soak a piece of towel in cold water and use it to wipe his body, focusing on his ears, neck, and paws. Have you ever tried to get into your car under the hot sun?

The interior will be too hot. So, you’ll need to quickly turn on the air conditioner.

If you’re going out with your cat in your car, it is better to start the car, turn on the air conditioner and wait for about 3 minutes for the cool air to circulate before bringing your cat inside the car.



When you nip any ailment in the bud, it will cost less, and your cat will have higher chances of survival. So, when your little kitty begins to pant for too long, call your vet immediately. Don’t assume anything. Every minute counts.

Read about how cold is too cold for cats next.