Why Do Cats Pant – Huffing & Other Noises Explained!


Panting is uncommon in cats, and sometimes your panting cat might be suffering from some severe illness. Hence, to determine the course of action to follow if your cat pants, it is quintessential that you first know everything about: Why Do Cats Pant?

Cats pant due to overheating, playing in a warm environment for a highly long time, or because they are stressed out. Other severe reasons for your cat panting include early signs of diseases like Asthma, Respiratory Infection, Heartworm disease, or even Congestive Heart Failure.

Panting in cats is not usual, and you should immediately lookout for signs that cause panting and consult a vet if needed. Below we discuss the main reasons for panting in cats and other factors related to panting.

Reasons Cats Pant

Below we discuss the main seven reasons your cat is panting. Some of the reasons do not require any medical attention, but for the more severe causes of panting, without any delay, you should consult a trusted veterinarian.

Excessive Playtime In Extreme Heat

One of the common reasons for panting is your cat getting overheated. This can happen due to excessive playtime or exercise in a hot climate. 

If this is why your furry friend’s panting, you should stop your cat from any further activity and help it relax and cool itself down.

Your Cat Is Experiencing A Sudden Stress

If there is a sudden change in your home, like a new guest, a new pet, or new construction, your cat might get stressed and start panting.

So, if your cat starts panting, you should first lookout for any noticeable changes in the environment where your cat lives.

Asthma

It might come as a shock to you, but cats are also prone to asthma, just like humans. In this ailment, your cat might develop allergies to the environmental particles, which causes the narrowing of the air passage in the lungs.

If your cat suffers from asthma, you may find her panting, coughing, or breathing faster than the usual speed. Asthma can become life-threatening for cats. So, it would help if you immediately got your furball tested for it. 

Infection In The Respiratory Tract

Your four-legged friend’s respiratory tract might be infected with a virus, bacteria, fungus, or any other type of pathogens. This infection can lead to inflammation in the respiratory tract organs.

Because of this inflammation, your cat might pant heavily. 

Anxiety

An anxious cat often pants and shows several other signs like weird behavior, excessively grooming itself, frequent urination, and changes in the diet pattern.

If you find that your cat is suffering from anxiety, you should talk to a vet and provide her with anti-anxiety medications.

Heartworm Disease

Your cat can contract this disease due to a bite from an infected mosquito. The signs include coughing, panting, and difficulty in breathing.

Talk to your vet about the preventive measures for this disease.

Congestive Heart Failure

This is a severe medical condition, which causes the thickening of the heart muscles. This causes the heart to beat much faster, causing extreme panting in cats. Your vet will provide oxygen therapy to your furry friend if an episode of congestive heart failure occurs.

Why Is My Cat Panting With Her Mouth Open

If your cat is panting with her mouth open, it indicates that she is highly stressed or overheated. In some cases, panting with an open mouth also indicates an occurrence of an underlying disease that you might not be aware of.

If your cat is panting with her mouth open, you should get it examined, as it can indicate below serious diseases:

● Asthma

● Tumor

● Heart Failure

● Cancer

● Lung damage and fluid build-up around the lungs

Is Panting A Sign Of Pain In Cats

Even though it is difficult to determine if your cat is in pain, panting can be a sign of pain in cats. If your cat is panting and is breathing faster and shallower than usual, it indicates that your furry friend is in pain.

If you carefully observe, you might also see a change in the rhythmic movements of the stomach and the chest muscles while your cat is panting.

Why Do Cats Pant When Stressed

Most of the pets will sweat when they are stressed. However, cats are not capable of perspiring. Because of this nature, cats pants when they are stressed.

Due to stress, the heartbeats of your cat elevates, and this, in turn, will cause your four-legged friend to pant.

Is It Normal For A Kitten To Pant When Playing

It is normal for a kitten to pant while playing. A reason for this is that kittens will pant after a vigorous session of playing or workout. Moreover, if your kitten is playing outdoors, it might also get heated.

Overheating can also cause panting in kittens after the playing session is over.

In most cases, if the panting is due to excessive activity, your kitten will stop panting after relaxing for some time. You can keep her near the air conditioner or at the coolest spot of your house.

However, if the panting does not stop after some time, and you see signs like excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea in your kitten, you should immediately consult a vet. 

Do Cats Breathe Heavy When Sleeping

It is not normal for cats to breathe heavily while sleeping. An average respiratory rate of breathing in sleeping cats should be around 16 to 35 breaths per minute. Normal breathing should have small and light chest movements.

If your cat’s respiration rate is not in the above-specified range, it means that your furry friend is giving out signs of some illness.

If you want to check your furball’s respiration rate while sleeping, you can do it by counting the number of breaths your cat takes while it is asleep. One round of the cat’s chest inhaling and exhaling should be counted as one breath. Count the number of breaths during 30 seconds, and then multiply this count by two.

Can Hairballs Cause Breathing Problems In Cats

It is unlikely that hairballs can cause breathing problems in cats. If your cat is grooming itself excessively, the hair can get caught up in the tongue, and she might ingest the hair. If your cat is unable to digest the hair, it ends up forming a hairball.

While trying excessively to cough up the hairball, your cat might make weird wheezing noises and might make gagging actions. Hairballs can cause blockage and thus can harm the stomach, digestive tract, and esophagus.

Since cat asthma is less common, signs such as excessive coughing are often related to hairballs. However, hairball affects the digestive tract, whereas asthma affects the respiratory tract in cats.

How Do You Stop A Cat From Panting

If you want to stop your cat from panting, the first thing that you should understand is why your cat is panting. Below, we have discussed in detail the measures you should take as per different scenarios. So, first, identify the cause of panting, and then you can follow our suggestion.

Panting Due To Overheating 

● Take your cat near an air-conditioner or a cooler place.

● Provide water to your cat. Your cat might not drink the water just because she is a cat! Be more creative and take your cat near a moving water source like a tap and let her drink water.

● If your cat does not drink water, you can try to cool her off by soaking a towel in water and putting the cloth on her ears and paws.

● If you are out for a picnic, it is best to wrap up things and head home. Make sure that you cool your car to cool down your cat.

Panting Due To Exertion

● If your cat has over-exerted herself, maybe by playing or running around her favorite toy, you should stop the activity and allow her to calm down.

● Put your cat in a spot that she usually likes to sleep on, or maybe place her on your lap. This will provide her with warmth and comfort.

Panting Due To Stress

● Identify the reason why your cat is stressed. It can be a company of some other pet or an unknown person. If so, you should take your cat away for some time.

● If your cat is stressed due to traveling, you should stop traveling for some time and take a break till your cat relaxes.

● Cats often tend to get stressed in new and open spaces, like a beach. If this is the case, you can reassure your cat and take her in your lap and make her comfortable.

Panting Due To Illness

● If your cat continues to pant, even after trying out all the above options, it can indicate a severe disease like Asthma.

● In such a case, it is best to visit your veterinarian rather than trying to self-treat your cat.

Other Considerations

While panting can indicate that your cat is stressed, over-exerted, or heated, you should consult a vet without delay if you find prolonged panting. 

As discussed earlier, panting can point out various underlying diseases which can cause fatal if not detected and treated at an early stage. If you see panting accompanied with the below signs, call a vet immediately:

● Heavy drooling

● Weakness

● Lethargy

● Bleeding from the nose

● Bright red tongue

● Vomiting

● Diarrhea

Few tests that the vet might perform include:

● Heartworm testing

● Blood tests for anemia and diabetes

● Ultrasounds

● ECG

In a nutshell, try to stop your cat from panting or consult a vet.

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