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Why is my cat panting with her mouth open?

Have you ever seen a cat panting? It is very uncommon for a cat to pant, but on certain occasions, it can happen, and it is best to be prepared and know why it happens so you don’t panic and learn how to act. Although sometimes it may be a bit obvious why, for example, if it’s a hot day, cats tend to pant because they are overheated, just like dogs, there are also situations where panting could indicate a severe health problem. Why is my cat panting? Let’s find out!

Why is my cat panting? Most common situations that cause a cat to pant

Here are the most frequent reasons that would make your cat start panting and what to do in each case:


When humans get hot, we sweat, and with that, we regulate our body temperature. When they are hot, cats release minimal amounts of sweat through their paws, and that’s it. They usually have no other way to regulate their temperature. That’s why it is common to see them overheat quickly.

When it is hot and a cat is panting, it is because it needs to cool down, and you can help it by providing a source of cool water, a space with a lovely shade, or moving it directly away from the heat source. Some cats roll on concrete or dirt to feel fresh under the shade. Remember that unattended heat stroke can be fatal for cats. Don’t leave your cat (or any other pet) in a hot car with the windows closed.

why is my cat panting with her mouth open - overheated


When a cat is excited and happy, especially kittens, sometimes they don’t know how to contain their excitement and tend to pant. For example, if your cat has a new toy or is having a vigorous play session, you can see your cat panting, which is normal.

Stress or anxiety

As a cat parent, you’ve probably already realized that cats are super sensitive and often get scared, stressed, and anxious. A new family member, strange visitors, a noise, or a strong odor can trigger negative emotions in your cat. How these furry cats cope with their fears is very diverse, ranging from the most common ones: hiding, meowing a lot, showing a sullen attitude, relieving themselves outside the litter box, or even panting.

If you notice that your cat is panting for no apparent reason, remember to check his environment. Maybe you can identify if something is bothering him.


As in humans, specific allergens also cause asthma in dogs and cats, although this affects cats more. Asthma causes the lungs to become inflamed, making breathing difficult. When a cat has moderate asthma, it is common to hear a dry cough that helps her to regulate her breathing. However, asthma can lead to panting in more severe cases where the cat has more difficulty breathing.

If you think your cat has asthma, you should take her to the veterinarian for advice on how to act, especially if the cat starts to pant, because a severe asthma attack can be fatal.

Respiratory infection

An upper respiratory tract infection can cause a cat to pant. These infections, better known as cat flu, are common, low-severity illnesses that cause symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, mild wheezing, and, rarely, panting.

Cat flu is acquired through contact with certain bacteria and is highly contagious among cats. Symptoms usually last one to two weeks without causing health complications for the cat. 


Heartworms are a dangerous infection in which tiny parasites infect the cat’s heart and lungs through a mosquito bite. The danger of this disease is that it is not possible to detect it at an early stage. It is usually recognized until the cat begins to have episodes of coughing and rapid breathing or panting, accompanied by lethargy and a quick weight loss.

There is still no treatment developed specifically for cats, although some veterinarians often treat the infection with dog medications. The safest option is to remove the parasites by surgery, but when this is not an option, one may choose to attack the symptoms and wait for the heartworms to die on their own (two to three years).

Heart failure

Some breeds of cats, such as the Maine Coon and the Ragdoll, are more prone than others to heart problems. As with heartworms, it is difficult to know when a cat has cardiovascular issues, so it is essential to be consistent with complete medical checkups. In some cases, a heart problem can affect the functioning of the lungs, reducing the cat’s breathing capacity, which can lead to constant panting.

why is my cat panting with her mouth open - heart failure

Remember that if your cat is panting just a little, it may be expected due to heat or physical activity, but when it is recurrent, it indicates something is wrong. If your cat is panting and has pale or blue gums, it means it is not oxygenating well, which can be a symptom of heart failure. If this is the case with your cat, do not hesitate and go quickly to the emergency room.  

Cat panting: How to respond to a panting cat?

As you learned, there are many reasons your cat is panting, and not all are dangerous. I will give you some general tips, so you know how to act in the best way.

  • Observe the environment to detect why your cat is panting. If it is hot, you can wet your cat’s paws with a damp cloth and take it to a calm, ventilated place. If she is playing energetically, you can distract her so that she stops for a bit and her heart rate regulates. And if she is scared or stressed, look for the source of the problem and, if possible, eliminate it.
  • Keep calm. Remember that you are the person your pet trusts the most as a pet parent, so if she sees you agitated and nervous, she will be too.
  • Do not force your cat to eat, drink water or ingest self-prescribed medications. Visit your veterinarian and let her determine the best course of treatment.

Why is my cat panting with her mouth open? Final words

Now that you know why your cat is panting, you can better assess the situation and learn how to act. And remember that if your cat is showing any other strange symptoms or you are worried about her health, always consult your veterinarian for guidance.

Have you ever had to deal with a panting cat? Tell us your experience in the comments!

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