If Your Cat Has Been Panting Like a Dog, Here's Why That's a Big Problem

Getty / Cyndi Monaghan

If you’ve seen a cat panting like a dog in a viral video or even in person, you may have thought it was cute or funny. However, cats do not pant. They just don’t! Unlike how dogs regulate their temperature by panting – maybe after a rigorous romp in the yard or running in circles – cats don’t do that. In fact, cats should not pant at all. We spoke to two veterinarians to find out why a cat might be panting and what you should do if your cat does this.

Related: 17 of the Most Popular Cat Breeds For First-Time Owners, According to Experts

Why Is My Cat Panting Like a Dog?

You might think it’s funny when your cat pants, but it’s no laughing matter. Cats don’t pant, so if they are, there is something wrong. Dr. Shelly Zacharias, DVM, MS, VPM, BCMAS and vice president of medical affairs for Gallant, told POPSUGAR that if a cat is panting, it’s probably for one of two reasons. If the cat is stressed out, they might start panting because of anxiety, but she said this should not be prolonged. “When a cat is in a stressful situation they will often pant due to anxiety or excitement, this should be very temporary,” she told POPSUGAR.

The other reason your cat might be panting is because of a serious health issue. “Heat stroke, heart disease crisis, respiratory crises, asthma attack, etc.” could all be causing the panting, Dr. Zacharias said. Dr. Deborah S. Greco, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, and senior research scientist at Purina, agrees that panting is never a good sign and pointed out that while dogs regulate body temperature by panting, cats do not, so don’t write it off as just that. “If you see your cat panting, see your vet ASAP,” she told POPSUGAR.

What Do You Do For a Cat When They Are Panting?

If your cat is in a stressful situation (in the car, for example), the panting should stop once the stress ends. “If the panting is due to excitement from playing or stress from car ride, then keep him as cool and calm as possible and it should resolve on its own in a matter of minutes,” Dr. Zacharias told POPSUGAR. However, if there’s no visible stressor and your cat’s panting is persistent, you need to call your vet immediately, because something may be seriously wrong.

How Can I Help My Cat Stop Panting?

Dr. Greco reiterated that panting in cats is not normal, but if your cat pants while stressed from time to time, it’s not a bad idea to check with your vet about this anxious behavior. She also recommended discussing a calming supplement with your vet, as that could potentially help your cat when you know stressful situations are on the horizon.

Dr. Zacharias also mentioned that it’s important to keep your cat’s vet visits regular – every six to 12 months – so if a health problem arises, you can stay on top of it.

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