Why Do Cats Pant? Should You Be Concerned?

Why do cats pant? Is it a normal behavior, or a cause for concern? We know that a dog pants a great deal as a way to cool himself, but in a cat this behavior seems a bit more unusual. So, let’s look at some of the causes of cat panting.

What Causes Cats To Pant?

tortie cat in carrier, panting

There are normal reasons why a cat will pant. Let’s look at them first.


First of all, short-lived panting in your kitty may be quite normal. If kitty has been exerting herself a great deal, she may start to pant. Just keep an eye on her. She may stop panting once she has rested a bit. You may see this behavior more often in young kittens.

Usually this type of panting will resolve quite quickly, so you need not worry about the cause.


Cat drinking from faucet
Ahh! Cooling Water!

Panting because of overheating can be considered normal. However, try to resolve the issue quickly. Take kitty to a cooler spot, or, if inside, turn on a fan or air conditioner. You might also put out a cold, wet towel for her to lay on.

A cat has tiny sweat glands in its paws and between its toes. However, consider the size of the paws in contrast to the size of the cat. They cannot regulate their whole body temperature using just the small area of their paws.

Thus, if really hot, the cat will pant to help cool himself.

Stress Relief

It’s quite common for a cat to pant because of stress. For example, many cats will pant simply from being in their carrier, or when they are taken to the vets, or sometimes just from riding in a car.

If they are stressed in the carrier or the car, do what you can to help calm them down. At the vet’s, get them into a quiet room with no other animals as soon as possible. Perhaps you can use a  pheromone spray or a calming treat, or if available, even a prescription medication intended to calm. 

On the way to the vet, open the window or turn on air conditioning; place kitty’s carrier near the cool are to make sure he gets some of its soothing effect.l

Abnormal Causes Of Cat Panting

Siamese cat panting

If your cat pants on a regular basis, or if it lasts for a long time, it might be the sign of a medical problem. If your cat pants without an obvious trigger, such as strenuous play, it might be time to consult the vet.

Health conditions that can cause breathing difficulties in kitty are many and varied. These can include anemia, asthma, bronchitis, a bacterial respiratory infection, or pneumonia. If you think your cat is experiencing breathing difficulty, it’s a medical emergency. Get her to a vet right away.

Respiratory Diseases

In the upper respiratory tract, the nasal cavity could present an issue. Common causes include viral infections such as herpes virus and nasal polyps and tumors, more common in an older cat.

With a congested nose or a blockage, the cat may need to breathe out of the mouth. Doing so is not natural for cats, and can be distressing to them.


Cats can suffer from asthma. This disease may be caused by the cat’s inhaling allergic particles. This disease can trigger panting, and also causes coughing and wheezing. A vet can prescribe medications which will make the breathing easier.

If kitty’s airways are constricted so they do not get enough oxygen, they might have to suck in air through their mouth. Kitty will be uncomfortable in this position, which is considered respiratory distress.

White cat panting


Though heartwork occurs more often in dogs, felines can also have this condition. As most heartworms don’t survive until a cat is an adult, it usually goes undiagnosed.

Heartworm can cause a situation known as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD) in cats, This disease causes difficulty breathing and will lead to panting in cats.

As the dog treatment for heartworm is one that cannot be used for cats, we must instead protect the cat from catching the worms.

When Is It Time For A Vet Visit?

If you feel your cat is having difficulty breathing, better get her to the vet.

Does your cat pant after mild exertion, such as climbing the stairs? Such might be a signal that there is something wrong with her heart. Cats with heartworms might also pant or cough. Other signs of heart disease in kitty could include fatigue, poor appetite, and weight loss.

What Is The Treatment For Cat Panting?

Well, of course it will depend on the cause. As an example, if kitty has a bacterial respiratory infection, he would receive a treatment of antibiotics. For bronchitis, steroids would be used to reduce inflammation in the lungs.

Orange cat panting
Asthma’s got me down

Once your vet determines the cause of the panting, he will come up with a recommended treatment plan.

Check Out The References

I am impressed with the references I used for this post. They included lots of information, in some cases in more detail than I presented here. If you want more information on this subject, read the references to gain further insight.

References I used for this post:


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