Why Is My Cat Panting Like a Dog? Here’s The Answer!

The first time I notice my cat panting, he is still a kitten, maybe 3 months old. This was on the 5th or 6th day when I got him, and I am a complete newbie to cat ownership. Hooli was playing and chasing with his brother and suddenly started panting. It looks… unnatural to see a kitten panting like that. If you have had an experience similar to mine, you may be wondering, “Why is my cat panting like a dog?”

If you are worried that your cat may have asthma because he’s panting, you are not alone. It’s a common misconception that cats only pant when they are in trouble. However, cats actually pant for a variety of reasons – just like dogs. It’s important to find out what’s going on so your cat can get the help he needs. 


Asthma is a condition that causes inflammation in the lungs. Cats can get asthma, too. When cats have asthma attacks, they may breathe faster than usual due to stress or allergens. This causes them to cough and wheeze and also pant more. There are treatments for asthma, including medications such as corticosteroids and bronchodilators.

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

Congestive heart failure is quite common in cats and may go unnoticed. Cats may show no signs until the disease develops into a severe condition. Cats with congestive heart failure (CHF) often breathe faster than 60 breaths per minute. 

If your cat has trouble breathing, its gums may turn blue. This happens because the cat is not getting enough oxygen. If your cat shows other signs such as weight loss, rapid fatigue, etc., you should take him to the vet.

Infestation with heartworms 

Heartworms are tiny parasitic worms that infect the heart and lungs of cats and kittens. These worms live in the blood vessels of the cat’s lungs and can cause severe symptoms of inflammation in the lungs and airways. 

This condition is called heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD). Symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, and other symptoms associated with respiratory distress. 

Treatment of HARD includes supportive care with corticosteroids to reduce inflammation of the lungs. In severe cases, oxygen therapy is required. 

Your cat may be in pain 

Pain can sometimes trigger panting in cats and may be a clue as to why your cat is panting like a dog. If panting is accompanied by aggressive behavior, excessive purring, changes in mobility, feeding behavior, excessive vocalizations, and rapid pulse, it may mean your cat is in pain and needs medical attention.

Respiratory infection

Upper respiratory problems make it difficult for cats and kittens to breathe. This can last anywhere from 5 days to 6 weeks. The duration depends on how severe the flu is. These infections are highly contagious, and flu symptoms include fever, sneezing, panting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and coughing.

If a secondary bacterium develops, antibiotics may be needed. Steaming or using a humidifier can help open the airways and make it easier for your cat to breathe through his nose.

Overheating during play and exercise

Cats pant when they are happy and excited after playing. Make sure your cat has plenty of opportunities to play to keep him healthy and mentally satisfied.

Cats get hot when they engage in activities such as jumping, chasing, scratching, and hopping. When their body temperature rises, they begin to pant. In this case, the cat will try to cool its body by panting. Your cat will then likely seek out a quiet place to rest and cool off. Let your cats rest somewhere where you can see them.

Your cat may be injured 

If you think your cat is injured, take him to the vet immediately. 

As nimble as a cat may be, it is possible for it to become injured, especially if it falls from a great height. These falls can result in sprains, chest or abdominal injuries, and broken bones. If they are in pain and distress due to the injuries, they will pant abnormally. 

They may also experience shortness of breath due to broken ribs or internal injuries. Get your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible, but do it carefully. 

Your cat is stressed

Cats can be stressed for a variety of reasons, including moving to a new home, a change in routine, getting sick, or having other animals in the house. When cats are stressed, they may begin to pant. This usually subsides when the stressor is removed.

Your cat may be traumatized 

Panting in cats may also be a reaction to a traumatic event, such as being stuck for an extended period of time or hearing loud and unusual noises. The cat may then pant and act very nervous for some time afterwards. 

Scientists say that the long-term memories that become embedded in pets’ memories have to do with very extreme scenarios – especially those that have an emotional impact. This memory of the traumatic event can stay with them for a while, and they may start panting when they encounter similar events. If this is the case, you may want to get your cat some professional help to help them recover from the traumatic experience.

 What to do if your cat is panting

 If you notice that your cat is panting, here is what you can do to help: 

  • Do not panic and stay calm

  • Find out why he is panting

  • Take him to the vet if he is injured or panting constantly for no reason 

Here are some guidelines: 

  • If your cat is playing when he starts panting – it’s probably nothing to worry about. 

  • If there are loud noises and he is frightened by something – that is also temporary and not a cause for concern.

  • If he starts panting for no reason:

    • Make a note of when and how often he is panting

    • Take him to the vet if he is injured or has other symptoms 

    • If there is no reason for injury and the panting only occurs for a short time, video the panting and bring it to the vet on your next visit. 

    • If the panting occurs frequently, take him to the vet immediately. 


Panting in cats can be for a number of reasons, some more serious than others. If your cat is panting and you are not sure why, it’s best to take him to the vet to have him examined. In most cases, however, panting is not a cause for concern and will go away quickly. Enter your email address in the box below to subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about your cats!


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