How to Stop Your Cat from Panting

Have you seen your cat panting?

The first time it happens can be really scary. Cats aren’t known to pant, it is more a dog thing.

But did you know that many cats pant when they have overexerted themselves, gotten hot or are feeling stressed?

It is just like how our heart beats and breathing gets faster after we have been for a vigorous run, or even when we are about to speak in front of a large group of people.

Why is your cat panting?

Depending on what your cat is doing and where you are, they may be panting as they feel too hot, they are too excited or tired or they are feeling stressed.

Perhaps you have been hiking in the sun, or they have been chasing a toy vigorously or you’re in a car and they feel stressed.

What should you do if your cat is panting?

The first thing you should do is understand why your cat is panting.

Is your cat very hot? Have you been catexploring and the sun is beating down on you?

Or perhaps your cat has been sprinting up a hiking trail. They would be feeling tired after exerting so much energy.

Or you could be in the car with your cat, and your cat is not a fan of the car. They might be panting because they are stressed.

If your cat is hot and panting.

This is typically why catexplorers are panting.

They have been having such a fun time seeing the world, and the temperatures have gone up and they are overheating.

If your cat is in this situation, it is time to cool them down.

Move into the shade or a cooler location

If you are out and about in the sun, the first thing to do would be to move into a cooler place.

Perhaps this is an air-conditioned space or in the shade. This will help cool both you and your cat down.

Cool down your cat with water

Ideally, your cat would drink some water to cool down. However, cats are notoriously bad at drinking water.

With this in mind, we need to be a bit more creative in how we cool them down with water.

Perhaps you can try these ways to cool your cat down with water.

-         Soak a towel (or a tissue) with water and apply it to your cat’s ears & neck & paws.

-         Wet their head slightly

-         Encourage your cat to drink water by wetting their lips

-         Wet their pet bandana or cat snood

Cooling items for your cat

We love the idea of using cooling items like a cooling vest or an ice pack in your cat backpack or even a pet cooling pad that can fit in your cat backpack or stroller.

Time to go home

If the weather is too hot, it is probably time to end your adventure for the day.

Cool your car

Typically on a hot day, your car is also very hot, which is not ideal for a cat who is already panting.

Before getting into your cat with your cat, open up the windows and start the air conditioning with the air venting in. Once it starts cooling down, close the windows and start recirculating the air, so that your car stays cool.

When it is comfortably cool, it is time for you & you kitty to get in.

If your cat is panting because of overexertion

Most cats start panting after they have been chasing their favourite toy. They’re having so much fun jumping and running that they forget to take a break.

This can happen to a cat while they are going for a walk with you. They’re having so much fun that they forget that they are getting tired.

When this happens, it is up to us to calm our kitty down.

Use a safe spot

We always recommend that you have a safe spot like a cat backpack or a cat stroller on hand while adventuring with your cat.

Not only do these work as a space to place your cat if they get scared, they also act as a great spot for your cat to relax if they push themselves too much. A place to have a snooze, while you carry them back home.

Keep your cat cool

It is likely that your cat has become hot while running around, so use the suggestions above to help cool them down too.

If your cat is panting because they are stressed

We should address all types of panting, but if your cat is showing any signs of stress while catexploring, you need to reduce that stress as soon as possible.

Stay calm

We’ve all been there, where our cat has shown signs of distress. Then we start worrying, feeling distressed. Our heart rate quickens and before we know it, our cats are feeling our stress.

This then adds to their stress, and can quickly escalate.

It is easier said than done. Stay calm when your cat starts panting or stressing.

Understand what is distressing your cat and remove them from it

Take a moment to understand why your cat is stressed. Are you in the car? Or do they hate open spaces and you are in a field or on the beach? Are they scared of running water and you are next to a river with fast flowing water?

Do your best to remove your cat from whatever is worrying them. The easiest way to do this is to bundle them up in their backpack and move them to an area that they are comfortable with.

Reassure your cat

Calmly reassure your cat that they are ok. That you are not going to stress them.

That they are safe.

Keep your cat cool

Think about the last time you felt stressed. Perhaps your palms started sweating, your cheeks felt flushed?

Chances are that this is happening to your cat too. So cool them down with the methods mentioned above.

Go home

Sometimes, when stress panting occurs while you are exploring, it is time to go home.

Time to get your cat into a space that they are comfortable in. Time to let them relax.

Should you see a veterinarian about your cat panting?

If your cat is panting for an extended period of time, we recommend you contact your veterinarian.

Excessive panting can indicate a variety of illnesses in cats.

How to avoid your cat from panting

Avoiding your cat from panting because of the heat & overexertion

Vary when you go exploring

If the weather is warm, it may be time to reassess when you and your cat go catexploring. Rather than going out during the warmest parts of the day, it would be best to stick to the early mornings and evenings. Some kitties even love catexploring at night!

Change where you go

To stay cool in hot weather and to ensure you get your catexploring fix, change where you go.

Instead of your typical hike, in the middle of summer go visit an air-conditioned store. Many pet stores, home good stores are ideal for this. For ideas of places to go with your cat in the cities, listen to this podcast episode.

Have shorter trips

If you still need to go out during the warmest times of the day, try to reduce the length of these adventures. This will ensure your cat is only out in the heat for a shorter period of time.

For other tips on how to keep your cat cool while exploring in hot weather see here.

Use their safe spot

If you suspect that your cat is getting too hot or pushing themselves, it is time for them to relax in their cat backpack or stroller.

Let them cat their breath and relax for a while.

Cool them down

In these moments, you can also use a cooling vest or wet a pet bandana to pre-emptively keeps them cool.

Change their harness

Some harnesses may be snug and escape proof, but they can also be very hot.

Perhaps when it is warmer, you can use a harness with less coverage to help keep your kitty cool.

Hair cut

Summer can be quite hot for kitties with long fur. With this in mind, your cat may appreciate having a ‘fur’ cut for summer.

If you don’t want to be that drastic, perhaps you can use a coat thinning brush.

How to avoid your cat from panting due to stress

The obvious answer to this is – don’t stress your cat.

However, we know that this isn’t always possible, especially when you accidentally find yourself in a position that might stress them.

Understand what is stressing your cat

The first step is to understand what might stress your cat.

Is it the car ride? In that case, find ways to make the car more comfortable for them. Perhaps use some Feliway.

Is it open spaces? If so, plan your adventures to try and avoid open spaces and if you happen to stumble across one while you are out and about, pop your cat in their cat backpack or stroller to take them through the open space.

The aim is to avoid these stresses, but also have a backup plan, in case your cat does have to face them.