If Your Cat Has Been Panting Like a Dog, Here’s Why That’s a Big Problem

Ragdoll kitten with blue eyes.

If you’ve seen a cat gasp like a dog in a viral video or even in person, you may have thought she was cute or funny. However, cats do not gasp. They just don’t do it! Unlike dogs, who regulate their temperature by panting – maybe after a violent romp in the yard or in a circle – cats don’t do that. In fact, cats shouldn’t be panting at all. We spoke to two vets to find out why a cat is panting and what to do if your cat does.

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Why is my cat panting like a dog?

You may think it is funny when your cat pees, but it’s not a laughing matter. Cats don’t gasp. If so, something is wrong. Dr. Shelly Zacharias, DVM, MS, VPM, BCMAS, and vice president of medical affairs at Gallant, told POPSUGAR that a wheezing cat is likely for one of two reasons. If the cat is stressed they might start wheezing in fear, but she said this should not be extended. “When a cat is in a stressful situation, it often gasps because of fear or excitement. This should only be temporary,” she told POPSUGAR.

The other reason your cat may be panting is because of a serious health problem. “Heat stroke, heart disease crisis, respiratory crisis, asthma attack, etc.” could anything be causing the wheezing, said Dr. Zacharias. Dr. Deborah S. Greco, DVM, PhD, DACVIM and Senior Scientist at Purina agrees that wheezing is never a good sign, pointing out that while dogs regulate body temperature through wheezing, cats do not. So don’t write it out as just that. “If you see your cat panting, see your veterinarian as soon as possible,” she told POPSUGAR.

What do you do for a cat when it gasps?

If your cat is in a stressful situation (such as in the car), panting should stop once the stress ends. “If the wheezing is due to excitement from playing or stress from driving a car, keep it as cool and calm as possible and it should resolve on its own in a few minutes,” said Dr. Zacharias to POPSUGAR. However, if there is no visible stressor and your cat’s wheezing continues, you must call your vet right away as there may be a serious mistake.

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How can I help my cat stop panting?

Dr. Greco reiterated that panting is not normal in cats, but if your cat is panting in a stressful way from time to time, it is not a bad idea to check with your veterinarian about this anxious behavior. She also recommended discussing a calming supplement with your veterinarian as it could potentially help your cat if you know stressful situations are looming.

Dr. Zacharias also mentioned the importance of keeping your cat’s vet visits regular – every six to 12 months. So when a health problem arises, you can stay on top of things.

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