Panting in cats is very uncommon and is something that should be taken very seriously. Although it is part of a dog’s nature, it is just not normal in cats.
There may be an occasion when your cat may pant after an extensive play period, but that is also very rare.
In most cases when your cat does pant, they are either in stressful situation, very hot, or they are actually in distress from an underlying and potential life threatening condition.
Panting in cats in most situations will the result of overheating or when they have become extremely stressed by some type of a traumatic event.
The panting that they will exhibit will be very rapid but also a very shallow form of respiration.
A normal respiration in your cat should be between 20 to 30 breaths per minute.
If respiration becomes rapid it will cause panting. It is very easy to check a cats respiratory rate if they exhibit any form of respiration or panting symptoms.
Simply count the number of times that your cat’s chest rises and falls in a 15 second period, and then multiply it by four.
Other than heat or a stressful event, there are five basic underlying threats that can cause your cat to pant, and none of them are good.
They include Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Hematologic, and Neurological disorders.
The fifth cause is considered miscellaneous as it could be several unrelated conditions.
Respiratory causes will include both upper and lower systems, as well as diseases to those systems.
Upper respiratory causes could include nasal blockage of some type or some type of disorder in their voice box.
It may also be what is known as nasopharyngeal polyps, which is most likely the cause.
These polyps affect both the nasal areas and as well as the ears of your cat.
They are benign growths that generally will grow in the mucous membranes of the nose or in the pharynx which is the cavity behind your pet’s mouth.
Depending on the severity and size, they can distress in your cat and make it very difficult for them to breathe which induces panting.
If they are located in the middle or external ear, they affect their coordination.
The exact cause of these polyps is not entirely understood but it is believed to be caused by a chronic inflammation or they are present at birth.
Young cats are most commonly affected before they are two years old.
Lower respiratory tract infections can be caused by asthma or a hemorrhage of some type in the lung.
It can also be caused by cancer. However, the most common cause will be from Pulmonary Edema, which is fluid in the lungs.
The primary cause of fluid in your cat’s lungs will be congestive heart failure.
Cardiovascular disorders that may be the cause of panting in cats could include heart worms which are becoming much more common in cats.
However, unlike dogs where heart worms affect the heart, in cats they attack the lungs. Other causes include abnormal heart beating and heart muscle disease.
Hematologic disorders that cause panting include Hypercapnia which is an excess of carbon dioxide in the blood and can be a direct result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is also believed that it may be triggered by excessive heat or an extreme fever in your cat, and this condition can also lead to shock very rapidly in your cat.
Neurological disorders that can induce panting include a dysfunction of the muscles that assist in the respiration process.
This would include the nerve disorders that are associated with diabetes mellitus.
Diabetic neuropathy, which is a condition that affects your cat’s nerves and their ability to properly move their back legs, can also affect their respiration muscles, causing them to pant.
There are also numerous miscellaneous disorders that can induce panting in your cat.
If your cat is suddenly introduced to a very high altitude, just like us, they will have a difficult time in breathing.
However, the two most common causes in this category will be anxiety and Cushings disease.
Cats are creatures of habit and when they are introduced into an unfamiliar environment or faced with something they are not used to, they will get very anxious and as a result, anxiety sets in.
The first symptom of an anxiety attack is panting in cats.
Cushings disease also causes panting.
Cushings disease is a form of adrenal dysfunction and while it is a lot more common in dogs, it does affect cats as well.
This dysfunction can cause your pets liver to become enlarged which places pressure on their diaphragm.
When this happens, their lungs cannot fully expand making it difficult for your pet to breath.
The first symptom associated with panting in cats will be a difficulty in breathing, whatever the cause.
If this does happen you will immediately need to check for a condition called cyanosis which is a where the mucous membranes in your cat starts to turn blue.
This is a real warning sign as it indicates they are being deprived of an adequate oxygen supply in their blood.
If your cat also starts to drink excessively they have something underlying that is causing this increased thirst.
Panting in cats may be caused by anxiety or exposure to hot weather but it will be limited in natural as it should subside very quickly.
This is not a normal condition in cats and if it occurs on any type of a regular basis you will need to get your cat into a veterinarian as soon as possible.
It is a warning sign that there is a very serious underlying condition.