Cat Panting: Why It Happens and What Should I Do?
Why is my cat panting? This is one question that veterinarians all over the world have entertained from anxious cat parents. More often than not, feline panting may be normal and nothing to be worried about. This is especially true when you are aware of the kind of activity that your feline friend has been engaged in before the panting commenced. However, many cases of panting have been observed to be a common response in cats that are stressed, overheated, or anxious after a vigorous exercise session. This kind of panting is expected to resolve without external help once the kitty has had an opportunity to rest and cool down. However, cat parents should note that feline panting under these types of circumstances is rare compared to what is observed among canines. Thus, unless you happen to be sure of the root cause of panting in your furbuddy, it is something worth bringing to the vet’s attention. In the meantime, continue reading for more information on why cat panting happens and what to do about it.
What are the Causes of Cat Panting?
The possible conditions that can lead to feline panting, from mild to severe health conditions, include:
It is common knowledge that cats also suffer from stress, and panting may be one of the resultant signs. We have observed cases of many cats that suddenly started panting on the way to a vet’s examination. This is more evident when the cat had to endure a long ride in a hot car beforehand. What’s more, cat panting in a car may be a sign of apprehension, which usually continues in the vet’s clinic. It will only reduce a bit when they are more relaxed. And since cats don’t perspire as profusely as humans, they have to resort to panting whenever experiencing increased heartbeat – this is aimed at reducing their stress levels. No doubt, panting in cats, as a result of stress,is very common as many kitties go through stressful events and conditions.
Important to note that if your cat is excessively stressed out as a result of shock, the effects may turn out to be life-threatening or lead to a severe health condition. However, if you observe that your cat still appears fine and stable after an accident or a huge shock, it is still important to visit the vet for necessary examination. The reason for this is that your cat might still be experiencing shock without your obvious knowledge.
Just like dogs, cats pant after engaging in vigorous exercise. This is more evident in younger kitties – they tend to pant for a brief while after running too much. And when the weather gets too hot, outdoor cats can leverage panting as a cooling mechanism. If you observe that your cat is overheated, and is beginning to pant, place it under a fan or air conditioner to cool off. What’s more, you can also lay it down on a damp, cool cloth.
Underlying Health Issues that Cause Cat Panting
According to animal experts, there are several underlying health issues that can cause feline panting. They include:
Asthma: Asthma is known to cause panting, coughing, wheezing, as well as increased respiration. What’s more, feline asthma is triggered when a cat inhales particles that can stimulate allergic reactions. The condition can be treated with bronchodilators and corticosteroids.
Heartworm: Cats still suffer from heartworm, though the condition is more common among canines which can also lead to breathing impairment. For mild cases, inflammation can be reduced through supportive care using corticosteroids. However, serious cases call for oxygen therapy. For sure, heartworm disease is a fatal condition in felines; thus, preventive measures should be taken on a monthly basis.
Congestive heart failure: Accumulate fluids, both within the lungs and around it, can lead to coughing, rapid breaths, and of course, panting. This can be taken care of by draining the accumulated fluid; however, your cat might be required to take medication targeted at dilating the blood vessels. With this, the excess fluid is eliminated and better hearth contraction (with more force) will be achieved.
Respiratory infection: Any cat with a respiratory infection will experience impaired breathing – this naturally leads to panting and is usually a viral infection; however, it may emanate from secondary infection caused by bacteria. Steam and humidifiers can suffice here for easing nasal breathing and loosening mucus.
Other clinical conditions that can cause feline panting include; trauma, anemia, abdominal enlargement, neurologic disorders, and excessive pain.
Symptoms of Cat Panting
The symptoms that follow a cat that is panting are just too numerous; however, the most common among them are;
Vomiting or diarrhea: This might give rise to dehydration. If panting resulted in dehydration, your vet might recommend IV fluid therapy. However, if the panting extends for an unusual length of time, and the cat begins to exhibit other serious symptoms, you may be facing a medical emergency.
Other symptoms to look out for are coughing, restlessness, pale blue lips, and gums (clinically known as cyanosis). Additionally, other symptoms include bright red color in the tongue, lethargy, difficulty in standing up, difficulty in breathing (clinically called dyspnea), fatigue, increased thirst medically called polydipsia, weight loss, anorexia, and many more.
Treatment for Cat Panting
If a panting cat is experiencing breathing impairment, it needs to be stabilized by tackling the symptoms. Treatment for cat heavy breathing tends to vary depending on the root cause of the condition.
Supportive Care: Feline panting can be assuaged through supportive care (both the causes and associated symptoms). In cases where a cat is dehydrated, supportive care may entail hospitalization, aiding the cat with intravenous fluid, and oxygen supplementation.
Antibiotics: When the root cause of feline panting is discovered to be a bacterial infection, your cat will be placed on antibiotics to take care of the infection. This aids in relieving any resultant fever. However, bear in mind that prescription for this kind of medication can last for a whole week and may extend to one month, depending on how severe the condition is.
Stomach pumping: If the cause of feline panting is food poisoning, your vet might recommend stomach pumping – this is effective in getting rid of all the harmful substances that your furry friend has ingested.
Blood transfusion: In very severe cases where a cat is found to be very anemic, the vet may prescribe blood transfusions – this boosts blood quality as well as enhances the iron content of the blood.
Surgical removal: If it is discovered that obstructions, tumors, or ingested foreign bodies are the root cause of feline panting, surgery is the best way to get them out. Here, the associated risk is expected to vary depending on where the obstruction is located in the cat’s system. Remember, all surgeries call for general anesthesia.
Antiparasitic medication: Antiparasitic medication will only be prescribed when heartworm is diagnosed to be the underlying cause of feline panting. This is very effective in eradicating foreign organisms or worms from a cat’s body system.
Other medications: There are several other medications that the vet can prescribe for health conditions like seizures or asthma, which are the resultant effect of food poisoning.
What to do if your Cat is Panting
Upon the observation that your furbuddy is panting, be on the watch out for all the symptoms associated with the condition. Try and acquaint yourself with those signs indicating a more serious root cause and be vigilant for any of them, as mentioned above.
If you conclude that your cat’s panting is a resultant effect of normal events like excitement, vigorous exercise, fear, and heat, continue observing it after taking care of the stimulation. However, the attention of the vet will be needed if the panting refuses to go down.
Once the vet is in on the case, he or she may decide to run some initial tests to determine the root cause of the panting. Such tests may include the likes of;
- Urinalysis and CBC (Complete blood count) – these tests, alongside a biochemical profile, is likely to suggest health issues like diabetes, infection, and anemia. Your cat’s acid-base stats can be accessed via an arterial blood gas.
- X-rays – to rule out the possibility of any tumors or foreign body in the cat’s system, the vet may recommend an x-ray for the kitty’s abdomen and chest.
- Ultrasound – the vet may decide to carry out ultrasound on the cat’s chest, heart, and abdomen. This is targeted at evaluating the sizes of the cat’s organs in a bid to detect the possible presence of masses or fluid.
Apart from the aforementioned, there are still more specific exams and tests for cat panting. A thoracentesis and endocrine test, as well as a heartworm test may be necessary when the initial set of tests fail to come up with a diagnosis.