Dogs often pant and breathe heavily to cool down, but cats typically don't exhibit this behavior. Our veterinarian at Brodheadsville will clarify why your cat may be panting or breathing heavily and when you should contact your veterinarian.

Heavy Breathing & Panting In Cats

Sometimes, it's okay for your cat to breathe with their mouth open, but other times it could mean they are sick and need a vet right away.

If your cat is breathing heavily, check these things to see if they need help.

If it's not normal for them to breathe like that, or if they've been doing it for a while, take them to the vet.

Normal Panting in Cats

Just like dogs, cats can pant when they are feeling hot, stressed, or after physical activity. It's normal and should go away once they calm down, cool off, or rest.

However, cats panting is not very common, so if you're unsure why your cat is panting, it's best to take them to the vet.

Try to think about what your cat was doing before you noticed the panting to help your vet understand the cause better.

Abnormal Panting in Cats

Heavy or labored breathing might indicate a severe health issue if your cat is not feeling stressed, too hot, or tired from exercise. In such cases, you should seek emergency veterinary care immediately.


If your cat is panting, wheezing, coughing or breathing faster than usual, it might be due to asthma. The good news is that asthma can be treated in cats with medication such as corticosteroids or bronchodilators.

So, if you notice any of these symptoms in your feline friend, it's important to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Heartworms can make it hard for cats to breathe, but it can be treated with medication like corticosteroids to help with inflammation and oxygen therapy if it's really serious. If cats don't get treated, it can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal, so it's important to give them monthly medicine to prevent heartworms.

Congestive Heart Failure

An accumulation of fluid in and around the lungs can lead to quick, heavy breathing, coughing, and panting. The treatment usually involves draining the fluid and taking medication that can widen blood vessels, remove the excess fluid, and make the heart contract with more strength.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections can make breathing difficult for cats, causing heavy breathing. Respiratory infections are usually viral, but antibiotics might be needed for treatment when a secondary bacterial infection develops. Humidifiers and steam may help loosen mucus and make nasal breathing easier as your cat gets better.

Other Conditions

Trauma, anemia, neurologic disorders, abdominal enlargement, and pain can also cause cats to pant or exhibit heavy breathing.

If your cat is breathing heavily contact our Brodheadsville vets immediately.