Do cats pant?

Should you worry if you see your pet taking rapid shallow breaths? With the mouth open and the tongue lolling, the cat would be seen breathing rapidly. The cat is panting. Panting is differentiated from breathing because little exchange of air deep inside the lungs occurs despite the rapid breathing. The air is rapidly moved back and forth in the airways but the process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is compromised. Panting is a behavior most common in dogs. Cats pant too but in these animals, panting can signify a health concern. Panting in cats must not be ignored.

Generally, cats do not pant. People that have pet cats may never see the pet panting. Just like dogs, most of the cat’s sweat glands are found on the paws. However, cats are pretty placid animals. They do not indulge in highly strenuous activities like dogs thus panting is not often manifested by cats. So what situations and conditions would make a cat pant? Panting in cats can be due to environmental factors like heat, fear, excitement or anxiety. A mother cat that has given birth would pant because of the stress. Heatstroke can make the cat pant as well. As mentioned, cats are not very energetic animals. Cats would know when to get out from the heat of the sun. Cats love sleeping in sunlight puddles but when it gets too hot, cats would transfer to a shaded and cooler area to continue its snooze. However, cats that are trapped inside a car especially during the hottest part of the day can get heatstroke. Heatstroke would make the cat pant. Cats have the reputation of being water haters. Bathing is one of the situations that will make a cat pant. When a cat is drenched a nerve triggers the cat to pant. A cat that is being tormented by a dominant and aggressive pet would pant because of the fear or excitement.

Cats usually take quiet even breaths. A cat that pants would breathe rapidly but the breaths are shallow so that it appears that very little air goes in and out of the lungs. Panting is not considered normal in cats. Panting can be a sign of a life threatening concern. Cats pant when they are stressed or ill. Neurological disorders, cardiovascular disorders and hematologic disorders are common reasons for the cat’s panting. Rapid shallow breathing is one of the symptoms of pulmonary embolism. It is also possible for the cat to be affected by heartworm that causes heart disorders. Anemia is a disease of the blood that causes a cat to pant. Panting is seen in cats that have brain tumors or in cats that have sustained head trauma. Polyps in the nasal passage that causes an obstruction can be the reason for the cat’s panting. Pain would make the cat pant too.

How can an owner help a panting pet? As panting is not common in cats, owners have to look for the possible reasons why the cat is panting. If panting is the normal response of the cat to a change in temperature, to excitement or fear, the owner simply needs to remove the pet from whatever is causing the fear or excitement. Panting that is caused by heat would be easy to resolve. The cat simply needs to be taken to a temperature controlled room. Panting though can be due to a serious concern. The temperature of the pet must be taken to rule out fever. The owner has to look for other signs. Is the pet drooling, appears very weak and has blue-tinged gums? These are signs that the pet needs immediate veterinary attention.