panting in cats

Panting in Cats – Is It Normal?

Panting in Cats – Is It Normal?

Some of us have occasionally seen our cats panting – those rapid, shallow respirations characterized by open-mouthed breathing and protruding tongue. Panting is uncommon in cats and is not considered normal though some cats can pant after brisk play or in times of stress, such as a car ride. Even though your cat may periodically pant, should you be concerned?

That all depends. In general, panting is not considered normal in cats. It can occur with stress or after periods of excessive exertion, however, it may represent a more severe, even life-threatening illness and should not be ignored.

Why Cats Pant

There are many causes of panting in cats. Most commonly it is in response to environmental changes, such as anxiety, fear, excitement, or heat. However, if panting is excessive or your cat is in distress, it is important to identify the underlying cause. Some of these causes are:

What Should You Do?

If you notice excessive panting in your cat, look for signs of immediate distress like coughing, difficulty breathing (dyspnea), or blue color to the mucous membranes (cyanosis). Be on the alert, too, for other problems, such as fatigue, weight loss, poor appetite, excessive drinking, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If it appears that your pet is panting in response to normal events such as exercise, excitement, heat or fear, remove the stimulation and continue to observe your pet. If panting continues, consult your veterinarian.

Some Initial Tests Your Vet May Do

Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the following diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your pet’s panting.

More Specific Tests For Panting Cats

If your vet is unable to make a definitive diagnosis with the initial tests, further tests will be needed.

Treatment of Panting Cats

Even before a diagnosis is made, your vet will probably treat your pet’s symptoms. Initially, he will recommend strict rest and oxygen therapy. But he may also offer other treatments: