Cat Panting: Why It Happens And What Should I Do?

Wheezing is quite common in cats, but you may want to know why your cat is breathing so fast. You most likely have many questions about why exactly your cat is panting and what you can do about your cats panting. You may even be wondering if your cat’s wheezing is even normal? Below are some reasons your cat is panting and more information on when to take a panting cat straight to the veterinarian.

If you’ve seen your cat gasp pretty quickly, you may be wondering if this is normal, especially if there doesn’t seem to be an obvious reason for it. Gasping is a common way dogs are seen to cool off, but of course cats don’t gasp in the same way. The truth is, cats don’t usually wheeze on a daily basis, but there are situations when it can be perfectly normal.

How long this wheezing lasts lets you know whether or not the wheezing is due to a more serious problem. If your cat only wears pants occasionally, e.g. B. a few minutes after she was busy playing, there is nothing to worry about. Still, one potential cause for concern is if a cat gasps and doesn’t go away. If it’s something that is fleeting and just goes away on its own, it is less likely to be a problem than something that is more persistent. While cats wheezing is scary, there are a few possible causes that are generally not threatening. No matter what, if the wheezing continues, most owners will really worry about their furry friend. Cats should be taken to their veterinarian immediately if unusual breathing occurs, especially if they appear sluggish or if something else is not entirely right with regard to their normal behavior.

Cats gasp when excited or hot

Just like dogs, almost all cats can gasp after intense exercise or when trying to cool off as a cat gasps in the heat. Kittens in particular may sometimes wheeze after a run, and every now and then they wheeze for a very short time after being outside. Outside, cats sometimes use wheezes as a cooling device when it is exceptionally warm. If you suspect your cat is panting from overheating, you can cool them down by supplying clean fresh drinking water and giving them a cool, damp towel to lie on.

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Cats gasp when they’re stressed

We all know cats are stressed and wheezing can be a sign of it. Many cats can be seen panting when taken to the veterinarian for an exam. This is especially true if you’ve been in a hot car to get there. When they get to a veterinarian, they usually wheeze temporarily until they reduce their concern a little. Since cats cannot sweat, cats gasp when their heartbeat is increased to relieve their own stress. It is normal for your cat to gasp a small amount as some events can be extremely stressful for the majority of cats.

Remember, if your cat is extremely stressed from an event, this shock can be a life-threatening illness. Any disease that affects the heart can cause shock. In fact, if not treated right away, shock in your cat can be fatal. If your cat has had a major shock or accident but seems happy and okay, it is still important to take them to the vet for a necessary exam as they can be in shock even without the knowledge of an owner.

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Cats gasp when in pain

It is not uncommon for your cat to gasp when in pain. This is often the case with female cats when giving birth to kittens. Aside from giving birth, which is a natural process, a cat in pain should better be seen by your veterinarian. As any loving owner knows, cats are gurus when it comes to hiding possible signs of illness. If a cat is panting and you suspect it is in pain, direct veterinary attention is needed. Cats in pain are often very vocal, which is also a sign that they may need further treatment.

Health causes of wheezing

Sometimes when a cat gasps it is the result of a health problem.

There is an overabundance of ailments and illnesses that can cause wheezing in cats. These can consist of:

  • fever
  • Heartworms
  • infection
  • Low blood oxygen levels
  • Breathing problems
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • and many more

It is unfortunately quite difficult to figure out what is happening to your cat on your own as most cats show no obvious symptoms other than wheezing, apathy, or possibly even panic. However, there are ways to find out when to call a veterinarian.

  • If your cat’s breathing is found to be shallow, he will begin to gasp, which is very loud or fast.
  • Fatigue, sleepiness, and loss of appetite are the main alarm bells;
  • If your cat is panting frequently;
  • If your cat continues to hide but appears to be in dire straits;

Any of the above issues could be a sign of a more serious problem that needs to be addressed right away. There are a number of common conditions that can cause a cat to gasp.


Cat asthma, known as bronchial disease or allergic bronchitis, is a non-infectious lung disease that is categorized by how tight the lower airways in your cat are. This leads to coughing and often wheezing. Asthma is one of the most common causes of respiratory disease in cats, and frequent wheezing can be a sign. Asthma attacks range from mild to severe in most cats. Your cat’s inhalation of an allergen is the cause of asthma, which can lead to wheezing in cats. Common allergens include pollen, smoke, perfume, mold, dust, household sprays, and even cat litter.


While this is usually associated with dogs, your cat can still develop heartworm. This can lead to wheezing and other breathing difficulties. Treatment is a sympathetic treatment of steroids to reduce inflammation. Because heartworms can be fatal in cats, it is important that your cat receive preventive heartworm treatments.


As you can imagine, lung infections in cats make it difficult for your cat to breathe properly, which can cause them to wheeze. Infections like these are typically viral, but they can also be caused by a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics. Your cat likely has a fever and will feel sorry for itself if it has an infection. Using humidifiers can help loosen the infection and make it easier for your cat to breathe in the short term.

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Immediate care for panting cats

Unfortunately, there is little a home owner can do if their cat is having difficulty breathing. It’s important to get them to the vet as soon as possible. On the way to see your vets, try to minimize the stress your cat is exposed to. You should carry your panting cat in a special luggage rack so that its breathing is not further impaired when you hold it in your arms.

Visit your vet

If your cat continues to gasp, your veterinarian will first check a panting cat’s lungs and heart. It is highly recommended that they take an exam if you are concerned. A veterinarian can listen to your cat’s heart and lungs and make sure there are no noises or irregularities that may be cause for concern. If an initial exam shows nothing unusual, your veterinarian may decide to have a chest x-ray or an ultrasound of the heart. This will surely help rule out underlying problems, and these tests will help your vet look for abnormal heart problems or fluid in the lungs that could be a root cause of your cats wheezing. If you are concerned, take a panting cat to your veterinarian for an exam.

Often times, your cat’s wheezing is just a sign that she is getting too hot, too excited, playing too much, or having a little stress. The truth is, most cats only do this sometimes, and it usually isn’t any more serious. If your cats’ breathing becomes more difficult, or if wheezing occurs when your cat is completely at rest, get your cat examined by your veterinarian.


  1. Cat Panting: Why It Happens and What To Do About It – PetMD

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