If you’ve even seen your cat panting, you might wonder if it’s normal or not. Panting is a common way for dogs to cool themselves, but cats don’t typically pant. “We usually don’t see it happen, but there are some circumstances where it may be completely normal,” says Aimee Simpson, VMD, the medical director of VCA Cat Hospital of Philadelphia.
Some cats pant when excited or hot.
Like dogs, some cats might pant after vigorous exercise or to cool off. “Especially in young kittens, we’ll see exertional panting,” Dr. Simpson explains. “After they run around like crazy, sometimes they will pant for a very short period of time. I have heard that outdoor cats can use panting as a cooling mechanism if it’s really warm outside.” If you suspect your cat is panting because he’s overheated, help him cool off by using the air conditioner or a fan. You can also give him a cool, damp towel to lie on.
Cats might pant when stressed or anxious.
“I’ve seen a lot of cats [pant] when they come into the vet for their exam,” Dr. Simpson says. “They’ve been in the hot car, and when they get here they will usually pant briefly until they lessen their anxiety a little bit.”