A cat panting.

Panting is perfectly natural for pooches. They pant when they’re happy, pant when they’re thirsty, and pant in your face when they just want attention! 

Cats, on the other hand, are rarely caught with their tongues hanging out. It’s perfectly normal for a cat to indulge in a few deep breaths after a bout of active play, but if your cat starts panting heavily for no discernable reason, a call to your pet’s doctor may be in order. 

Why Panting Isn’t Typical For Cats

Rarely ones to overexert themselves, cats sleep an average of 15 hours a day. Felines also take advantage of the cooling effects of their own saliva. What? Yes! You might think your cat is just being fastidious about his or her appearance, when in reality, cats lick their coats to cool down. When their saliva evaporates from their coats, it provides a cooling effect similar to our own human sweat evaporating from our skin. 

So Why Do Cats Pant?

When a cat does pant, it’s a sure sign that his or her body is working extra hard. Here are some common causes of cat panting and when you should call your veterinarian

Life Just Got Interesting

Did you just treat your cat to a new climbing tree or catnip-filled toy? Your cat may be slack-jawed out of sheer excitement. Additionally, if he or she is energetically chasing a “mouse” or zipping through the hallway to catch a house fly, your cat may briefly pant after the bout of activity. Just make sure he or she is able to calm down after any strenuous play.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Cool cats can, and do, feel the heat just like the rest of us. And this is where your cat’s innate resourcefulness comes in. When cats start to feel overheated, whether they’re playing and pouncing vigorously or got trapped on the screened-in porch during the dog days of summer, they’ll seek out a shady spot, groom their fur, stretch themselves out, or drink water. 

However, in extreme conditions, heatstroke is possible. Contact us right away if your cat exhibits any of these warning signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Rapid respiration
  • Drooling
  • Crying
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness or lack of coordination
  • Loss of appetite and not wanting to drink

High Anxiety

Your cat might pant during a wellness visit or a trip to another unfamiliar place. If your cat is particularly anxiety-prone, he or she might even pant when you have guests over, when there are loud or strange noises in your house, or when you introduce a new puppy or kitten.

If a disruption to your cat’s daily schedule seems to be the reason for the panting, move your cat to a quiet room with a favorite toy, and make sure he or she recovers. 

Pain and Illnesses

Pain can cause your cat to pant, so if your cat’s panting is accompanied by other signs of pain, such as vocalizing, loss of appetite, or overall mood changes, it’s important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian. Medical conditions, particularly cardiovascular or respiratory issues, can cause cats to pant, as can heartworms.  

If your cat is panting for reasons you can’t explain, please contact us right away. The veterinarians at Androscoggin Animal Hospital are here to help!