Cats can pant?

I was giving Signal a good workout with a feather on a string and then a laser pointer tonight. He was going crazy, jumping 4 feet into the air and climbing the walls. Then he started doing something I’ve never seen a cat do before – he started panting. Just like a dog, he stuck out his tongue and breathed heavily. Maybe he’s out of shape, but it sure was weird. It took me quite a while to get a good shot of him to prove it, so I kept having to tire him out again. Maybe he’ll be too tired to wake me up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

85 Comments

  1. I have a ten month old female named Ashe. She is well behaved and very playful. One of her favorite things is pouncing on and fighting with stuffed animals. She has more fun if we animate the toys. We began to notice that when she really begins to rough house that she will make a panting noise and stick out her tongue. This response does happen when she is playing all by herself. The entire time, her eyes are dilated in “hunt” mode. She demonstrates no wish whatsoever for the play to stop. When I have had enough of the play (and am laughing too much at her antics), she will lie down beside me and purr.

    While many have described the reaction of panting as a health condition and probably rightly so considering the associative environments related to the panting they reported, in this case, the panting seems to be a psychological response. If it is medical in nature, it could possibly be asthma, but I doubt this. The animal demonstrates no distress whatsoever.

  2. Hi. I found this site on google and the comments are interesting. Anyways. My cat is about 11 years old and he does pant sometimes in the hot weather. He has never panted after exercising for a long time though. He also pants when he gets very scared, like when he’s at the vet. I’ve never seen another cat do it but I never have thought it was abnormal. The vet sometimes comments on it but it never seems to worry her. I’m more worried about my guinea pigs getting heat stroke than him, lol.

  3. i just found this site through google. both of my cats are pretty much panting non stop. i dont have a car and cant afford to take them to a vet. i dont know what to do, ive been giving them ‘ice baths’ at least 5 times a day for the past few days. (i rub an ice cube all over them– they love it) they only just started panting today. i live in san jose and we have been going thru a severe heat wave. the temp goes into the hundreds and doesnt dip below 80 degrees until after midnight. the temp has been at least in the 90s for the past 2 weeks. i dont have AC just a fan. what else can i do to keep my cats cool?? i have been giving them ice cold water every so often but they barely drink any of it. please help!

  4. My cat was panting today, her breathing was very heavy too. So I called the vet & we went in. She was dehydrated & running a fever. So, they treated her and told me that if I need to cool her down to rub alcohol on her paws (not too often ’cause that might drop her temp too much).

  5. I have a cat named Moonshadow, he is a bit chubby! But when he starts to play theres no stop! So me and my friend Morgan had been playing with him for about ten minutes when he started to pant like a dog. Morgan has two dogs and I thought that he had just picked it up from them, Oh was I wrong. I got on this website and it told me all I needed to know. So thanks Jeff Boulter.

    Sincerly,
    Haley

  6. I am fostering a young feral cat with her newborn kittens. They are just 5 days old. I noticed that the mom is panting. At first, I though she was hissing at me then I noticed that she was indeed panting. It’s not that hot out and she is in an enclosure which is also not hot. She doesn’t seem to be in distess just light panting like a dog does when he’s sitting around. Anyone??

  7. I was just told that my kitten has a heart murmur.
    He is 3 months old; the vet said that things to watch for include panting beacasue cats do no pant.
    This vet specializes in felines.
    Lisa

  8. I recently took my 1-yr-old male tabby to the vet for updated rabbies shots. I asked the vet about him panting when playing with my 7-month-old female tabby. He immediately went to listen to my baby’s heart and mentioned something about a type of hernia, which would cause difficultly when listening to the heart. He also said that cats need an amino acid called Taurine in their food or they can develop a flabby heart. Needless to say, he heard the heart fine and wasn’t overly concerned. And the food I use (Castor and Pollux Natural Ultramix Indoor Feline) does contain Taurine. I’m still worried about my baby, but there’s not much to do other than keep monitoring as he goes to the vet.

  9. Ok, here’s the deal… I’m a veterinary technician in a feline practice. Cats should not begin panting after a relatively short burst of exercise. They are built for “burst” activity, rather like a sprinter on a track team. (Dogs, on the other hand, are long-distance runners.) A short vigorous game of “get the mouse” or feather dancing should not elicit panting. And, unless it’s extremely hot, the temperatures inside a house or even out under a shady tree should not cause a cat to pant if there is fresh water available. Cats are originally desert animals.

    One of the most common causes of panting in cats is feline asthma. Another less-common cause is heart disease. Several posters mentioned that they have long-haired or Oriental breeds of cats such as Maine Coons (longhair), Birmans, Siamese, etc. In our experience, long-haired breeds such as Maine Coons and Birmans and Orientals such as the Siamese are more prone to heart-muscle problems (cardiomyopathy– there are several types: hypertrophic; dilatative; restrictive; etc.) than other cats, and that males have more trouble in this area than females. In fact, I have a 15-month-old Siamese tom named Schrodinger who has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. His first symptom was panting after a brisk tear about the house. The first time I saw that, I took him in for a checkup. X-rays did show a slightly enlarged heart, but there is/was no murmur. However, we did an echocardiogram just to be sure– and there it was: moderately thickened heart muscle and mitral valve and small ventricular lumen. He has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, HCM. So, he gets aspirin twice a week to prevent blood clots (don’t try this at home without a vet’s guidance!) and Lasix as needed for fluid buildup on the rare times it happens. Being a vet tech makes it a little easier to care for him. My 4-year-old Birman mix also pants and coughs– she has asthma, as we saw on her X-rays. She also gets meds to keep it under control. I had another cat that began panting recently– in her case, she was 14 years old. Her panting was due to a high-grade lymphoma near her heart. Unfortunately, we put her to sleep since the cancer had already become very advanced before she showed any signs. A year earlier, her older sister also developed a soft cough. Turns out, she also had lymphoma, but it was on her liver and spleen, which pushed her organs up into her diaphragm and made it hard for her to breathe. Yet another panting cat that I had was panting due to heartworms! We had been treating her for asthma because her bloodwork at first was negative for heartworm disease. At that time, we put her on preventative… but it was too late. She was already infected. The first test was falsely negative, but another test a year later was positive… and confirmed on ultrasound .

    So– five coughing and panting cats with four different diagnoses: heart disease, asthma, cancer and heartworms! See why it’s so important to check these things out with a vet rather than relying on anecdotes and comments found on a blog? Not to be smart, but your kitty’s health is just too precious to take chances. If it’s enough of a concern to ask here, then it’s enough of a concern to ask your vet :-)

  10. Here’s a twist — no panting, but a four-month-old kitten with hot ears, very wet nose, and he was sweating profusely from all of his paws. The temperature at the time was about 68F. He wasn’t playing with any feather toys. Maybe it was just nervousness. But he was fairly weak and just wanted to lay on the floor and not move. At first I thought a “kitty cold” but that usually means their nose is dry and there’s no paw sweating, certainly not like that. Hopefully by tonight he’ll bounce back to normal. Never seen this before.

  11. My 6 month old kitten got her tail stuck in a cupboard and flipped out. She was literally jumping away from her tail and causing a huge fuss. I ran in to “save” her and cannot move my fingers now as a result. She is now very nervous, jumping at anything, looking behind her for the culprit and is panting. I hope it is due to stress and not fp – feline peritinitus which cost me 600 dollars to put my last cat to sleep years ago. I found this website by typing in… cats pant after stressful situations so I am hoping she will be fine. Now to take her to the vet and add more stress to see if she broke her tail which is hanging limply at the end where it was caught. we’ll see.

  12. Folks..it’s normal for a cat to pant when over excited and playing hard. Of course if a cat is sick which other signs will tell you this..they would pant possibly too. But..for normal playing and getting excited..this is normal. My 23 year old cat (obviously wasn’t a heart problem) used to pant when she was younger and played really hard…and she played HARD…mostly air born..but the first time I saw her do this I nearly had a panic attack and called the vet..I thought she had rabies or something because her eyes were all buggy and she was panting so hard..she just finished doing about 50 laps running up and down the hallway like a lunatic…her vet said she was just over heated and was playing too hard and it’s normal and not to worry.

    I now have a kitten and when she gets all excited over something she pants and pounces like a dog. But then again…I’m not quite sure she’s a kitten..she acts more like a dog every day!

    But don’t panic if your kitten pants after playing hard…it’s just like if you ran a 10 mile stretch…well..I’d collapse and pass out..but you get the picture. If the panting doesn’t stop and an hour or so later your cat is still panting non stop and hasn’t played any more..yeah..then worry.

    Usually when my kitten (Lucy) pants, I rub an ice cube on her lips to cool her down some..she seems to like this and then on her head, ears and back and if she rolls over..her belly too!

  13. Does anyone have ideas on a cat who occasionally pants and frequently yawns? My son’s cat will yawn in the middle of a meow. He is a young neutered male, less than one year old. The yawning, coupled with the panting now and then, makes me wonder if oxygen is having trouble getting somewhere. We’re in Brisbane, Australia, but we haven’t hit summer yet, so I don’t think heat is a factor with the yawning. There is no coughing.

  14. Hey everyone. It’s 3am here and I was finishing feeding my cat when I noticed her kittens (now 5 days old) were all panting. They were clumped together to keep warm but I assume they were hot because of the panting.

    This is my cat’s first litter, and I haven’t had her or the kittens checked by a vet yet because I simply cannot afford it (I’m a student with next to nil cash after bills and whatnot). I have no experience with cats and newborn kittens. I was tehre when my cat had her kittens, she followed me around everywhere until I sat and patted her while she had them.

    I read up a fair bit on the net, just to get basic understanding of what I should be on the look out for. However the kittens feed regularly, the mum is making sure they go to toilet properly, I keep them in a nesting box with enough room for all of them and the mum but not so it’s cramped… I make sure they’re kept at a sufficient room temperature (I live in Brisbane, Australia and it’s not cold here at the moment).

    Anyway, to the point. PANTING! Freaked me out! I thought they were dying or something.

    Now I’m even more freaked out, because of all the difficulties panting could entail. I’ll make sure they get to the vet soon either way… but I hope it’s all just because they got too warm.

  15. Having never had a kitten before (we adopted the older cat) I panicked and became extremely distressed when the panting continued with her breathing being extremely rapid and shallow. She was meowing every once in a while and seemed to be distressed. After a while, probably about 10 to 15 minutes (and also after I overreacted and dipped her in some cold water and wrapped a damp towel around her, to which I have claw marks to show for it) she stopped and is now moving around quite normally.

  16. Hey, I know this was posted a long time ago. My kitty is panting. She is always panting. Not like with her tongue out of her mouth or anything. But she breathes in and out very very quickly. Did you ever figure out what was with your kitty? Was it a heart condition or what? I’d certainly appreciate it if you have any thoughts. My kitty’s just under 6 months old. Thanks. :)

  17. Hi, I found this site after my 8 mo old cat Oreo was panting. I had never seen this before. She was playing long and hard with a laser light. Up and down the stairs a hundere times

  18. I also have a cat name oreo, and she pants also. She did it when she was a kitten, and she still does. i think it may be some kind of heart problem. could an actual VET insert something?
    Oreo will be a year old in april. Thanks!

  19. My 9-month old Maine Coon-mix recently started panting after 5-10 minutes with Da Bird. He leaps up into the air and practically does somersaults, so I try to calm him down a bit. I have 2 other kittens the same age, and he won’t let them have their share of play. Anyway, he just had an echocardiogram less than 2 months before this started when he was having asthma-symptoms. He doesn’t seem to have asthma (it was a false alarm), and his echo came back clean. I called my Vet and asked if I should be worried about the panting; she said it was normal as long as he doesn’t pant when he’s not playing hard, and as long as he’s not wheezing. I don’t like to see the panting, and always worry when I see it. But since he just had an echo, I’m not sure there’s any benefit of bringing him into the Vet. He’s fine otherwise, and the panting only lasts 10 seconds (and I usually stop playing with him at that point).

  20. Boy was I glad to find this website! :-)
    I have to cats 1 short haired (Kitty) 2 yrs old & the other long yellow haired (Garfield)8 months old. well… to make a long story short came home & Garfield had been running wild since I got home he finally settled down next to me when I noticed he was panting like a dog. Yes I panicked (sort of)I picked him up & checked him nothing physically wrong with him but would not stop. Well it has been hot so I figured he was hot so I gave him a cool bath & that did the trick. YES A BATH! I began giving him baths since he was 6 weeks old so he is used to it now. After his bath he was back to normal & no more panting. He is now laying down relaxing looking out the door. Hope everyone has a great evening :-)

  21. My 5 month old kitten has panted his entire life. It is very hot here, I live in the desert. After hard play, his tongue hangs out, he pants, and breathes so fast and heavy I was getting worried. I decided to look it up online and found this site. I now feel better that he just needs to rest when he starts panting. This kitten will keep playing non-stop if you don’t settle him down.

  22. I was kind of worried when my kitten starting panting. I had just taken her outside and we were sitting on the grass in the sun when she began panting. Other than that, she seemed fine so I just blew it off. Although, I brought her outside again and the same thing happened. I’m glad that I found this website, but I still mentioned it to her vet. Luckily, she doesn’t have a medical condition that could show itself through panting, but there are some conditions that you should ask your vet about.

  23. Our cat has panted on and off, but not related to temperature. The other day he was panting and started to dry-heave. He started to dry-heave so violently, he was throwing himself a couple feet across the room. In less than 10 minutes he ended up collapsing, dead. After speaking with the vet, they determined it was an underlying heart condition that eventually his body could not handle with age. I’m not saying all panting indicates a heart condition, but be careful and try to observe patterns. We noticed our cat would pant most often during stressful experiences.

  24. I was starting to feel better about my cat’s panting until I read Jeff’s post. I know that my little female has a heart problem (it’s a birth defect), but the vet said that everything was okay, and all I could do was watch her. She pants sometimes in the heat, and because of her heart I pay very close attention. It was making me less panicky reading that other people’s cat occasionally panted, and were fine. Now after reading about Jeff’s cat, my obsessive worrying has returned. Ah well, I’ll just have to keep her as calm as possible.

  25. My cat came in the house one night panting……she wouldn’t drink or eat anything she just ran through the house as if she were going crazy….then we haven’t seen her in a week and tomorrow will be a week and a day.

  26. Wow! I am more alarmed at the amount of cat owners here now than I am about my two female all black 13 month old cats panting. I am alarmed by the sheer lack of knowledge that so many cat owners have who have posted. After so many posts about cats panting after playing rigorously for at least 10 mins it should be obvious to those who read this that cats pant. Ask yourself this question, after you run around rigorously, don’t you breathe deeper and more frequently immediately following? Yes, of course you do! So why would it be of any surprise that a cat would too? A cat will stop playing and calm down when he/she has had enough. One of the 2 kitties that I have is more fit and trim than the other… and even she was panting tonight. They were both tearing around together playing and running through the house and then came to a stand still in my front room. They rested, panted, layed in the windows… and eventually stopped panting. Now, certainly, there are health issues with some kitties and my reason for this post if not to take away anything from the importance of seeking medical attention when necessary. But, it seems to me (and this frustrates me) that more pet owners need to read books about being a responsible and ‘knowledgeable’ pet owner. Let nature take it course… most animals know what they need to know, it is us humans who have the harder time trying to figure that out. I am always wary of vets who will put an animal an anything just to put them on something. It is a natural occurrence that an animal without sweat glands will pant.

    To Alva who posted a little ways up, be careful when putting a kitty that is very warm into cold water as it will shock his/her system. Hopefully the water is more room temperature than ‘cold’. Better yet, just let the kitty cool down naturally… by panting and resting.

  27. You will never see your dog with sweat rings under his arms or your cat wiping his brow with a handkerchief. Dogs and cats don’t sweat the way people do for the simple reason that they have hardly any sweat glands at all. (The few sweat glands that they do possess are on the pads of their feet.) One exception is the sphinx cat, which can sweat a surprising amount.

    Unlike humans, who can shed jackets and sweaters when they start feeling warm, dogs and cats wear their fur coats all year-round. Having so few sweat glands makes them very sensitive to heat, but they do have another way of staying cool: They pant. Which is why, after a walk in the park or a fast game of chase-the-string, they will be puffing away with gusty, window-fogging breaths. (Cats are more discreet than dogs, and you won’t see their tongues hanging out very often, but they also pant when they are feeling warm.)

    “Panting is the main way that dogs and cats have of getting rid of body heat,” said C. Dave Richards, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Valdosta, Georgia. “If they weren’t able to pant, they would collapse from the heat.”

    Dogs and cats also pant when they are feeling nervous after a scolding, for example, or when they realize that they are going to the vet. In fact, fear is a common cause of panting.

    If your pet is panting even when he is cool and relaxed, there is probably something wrong, says John Daugherty, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Poland, Ohio. A fever often causes panting. Anemia, a condition in which there aren’t enough red blood cells to deliver adequate oxygen to the body, can cause pets to pant. So can problems with the thyroid gland, which may make your pet’s metabolism run too fast, causing him to heat up too much. Poisoning is another cause of panting, Dr. Daugherty adds.

    Perhaps the most serious thing to watch for is heatstroke, in which a pet’s temperature can shoot above 104 °F, causing very heavy panting and extreme exhaustion. Signs of heatstroke also include drooling, glassy eyes, deep red gums, and excessive weakness. Heatstroke may occur when a pet has been left in a parked car or if he has been exercising too vigorously in hot weather. This is an extremely serious condition that can cause brain damage or even death.

    See Your Vet If…

    * Your pet has gotten into toxic substances
    * He has been exercising vigorously
    * He is drooling, has deep red gums, or is very weak
    * Your pet’s temperature is 1048#176;F or higher
    * Your pet’s voice has recently changed.
    * Your pet is panting excessively
    * Your dog or cat is coughing, wheezing, sneezing, or gagging
    * Exercise makes him unusually tired or causes him to cough or wheeze
    * Your pet has recently begun snoring, wheezing, or panting at night
    * He is breathing rapidly or taking shallow breaths
    * His belly is heaving when he breathes
    * His nose is dry, crusty, or bleeding
    * There is a discharge from his mouth or nose for two days or longer
    * Your pet’s tongue or gums are blue or pale

  28. I’ve got an 8 month old Maine Coon cross and he pants after heavy play sessions or when he’s anxious. Unless the panting continues for a long time or is accompanied by more accute symptoms (such as a cough, or discoloured gums) I wouldn’t worry about the occassional pant. Like dogs, cats have to get rid of the extra body heat, this is especially true in the longer-haired breeds. Although they can get rid of some heat via. their paw pads the do not sweat and panting is one of the best means of evaporative cooling that they can do.

  29. My kitten started to pant at 5 months. First it was after she got over-heated lying in the sun, but then it was after even a small burst of exercise. She’s now 8 months and going in for a day of tests tomorrow, as she also has a cough. The cough is soft and wet, and an x-ray showed a shadow in front of her heart, which could be anything from a tumor to fluid, from the lungs or from a heart problem, or even a ‘thymic mass’, ie a tumor. If it’s so normal for cats to pant, then why do vets ALWAYS say “cats should not pant” ???

  30. I brought my 4 month old kitten in to the vet today based on the similar observations that everybody above mentioned. It turns out he has asthma. If you are really concerned about your kitten or cat panting excessively, you should get them checked out. It may or may not be serious, but regardless, it will definitely bring your mind to ease.

  31. I lost a cat today! :( I picked up Yoshi (Bengal cat) from my friends house today. I gave Yoshi to Ana (my friend) 3 yrs ago but Ana is in remission in cancer, she then decided to give back Yoshi to me. I was planning on giving him to my sisters. My niece and nephew are waiting for me to arrive. On my way there, at first I know Yoshi was uncomfortable. She meowed alot but become relax after awhile. the trip took about an hour and a half to my sister’s home. Then suddenly, she meowed again and crawled to me while I was driving as if he was giving me a kiss ( he is affectionate and likes hugs alot) …then I noticed his mouth is half open and eyes are wide open (pupil is so big) and meowing. As soon as we arrive at my sisters house, he meowed and again, his mouth is half open (this is an odd look) and when he tried to get up, he is so weak and collapsed all of a sudden. Then he didn’t move after that! We lost him :( I do not understand. He goes to vet and had regular shots he needed, he is healthy strong and happy cat. Did it sounded like a heart attack? He is only 3 years old :( This is heartbreaking!!!!

  32. I lost a cat today! :( I picked up Yoshi (Bengal cat) from my friends house today. I gave Yoshi to Ana (my friend) 3 yrs ago but Ana is in remission in cancer, she then decided to give back Yoshi to me. I was planning on giving him to my sisters. My niece and nephew are waiting for me to arrive. On my way there, at first I know Yoshi was uncomfortable. She meowed alot but become relax after awhile. the trip took about an hour and a half to my sister’s home. Then suddenly, she meowed again and crawled to me while I was driving as if he was giving me a kiss ( he is affectionate and likes hugs alot) …then I noticed his mouth is half open and eyes are wide open (pupil is so big) and meowing. As soon as we arrive at my sisters house, he meowed and again, his mouth is half open (this is an odd look) and when he tried to get up, he is so weak and collapsed all of a sudden. Then he didn’t move after that! We lost him :( I do not understand. He goes to vet and had regular shots he needed, he is healthy strong and happy cat. Did it sounded like a heart attack? He is only 3 years old :( This is heartbreaking!!!!

  33. I have an adult car that started panting. He quit moving around a lot and just didn’t act well so I took him to the vet. His blood counts were normal and he failed heart enzymes test so I took him for an echo. Heart was normal! Heart doc said there was no reason for him to fail heart test and was just a sinus infection. Cats/kittend can pant die to sinus problems, lung infections, heart problems our just simple over exertion.

  34. i dont think i have ever seen my cat panting until now. I got him a new toy and had him running around trying to catch it, and he got so tired he started panting. didnt stop him from catching it and tearing it apart though…

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