While dogs pant any time they become active or excited, this heavy breathing isn’t normal for cats. In fact, panting could be a sign of a serious health problem! It all depends on how often and how vigorously your cat is panting.
There are several factors to consider when diagnosing the source of your cat’s panting, which Germantown Veterinary Clinic is here to explain. Read on for some of the reasons your cat might be panting and how this condition is treated.
So, Why Is My Cat Panting?
Reasons cats pant include:
- Stress: Some cats become stressed in unfamiliar surroundings, such as on a car ride or at the vet’s office. When stress is the source of panting, it should cease once things return to normal.
- Respiratory problems: If your kitty can’t breathe, he may start panting in an effort to get more air into his lungs. Respiratory distress can be caused by nasal blockages, excess mucus production, asthma, hemorrhaging within the lungs or cancer.
- Fluid in the chest: Known as hydrothorax, the accumulation of fluid between the lungs and ribs can make your cat pant. This condition can be caused by a viral disease called Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), a ruptured thoracic duct, or congestive heart failure resulting from an enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy).
- Heartworms: In cats, heartworms attack the lungs. The damage they cause can make it difficult for your cat to breathe, hence the panting.
- Low blood oxygen levels: Diseases or bacteria can reduce the amount of oxygen in your cat’s blood, forcing him to pant to get enough oxygen into his system. Severe anemia, carbon monoxide poisoning and excessive carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) can also cause panting.
- Other causes: In addition to these primary causes, your cat may also be panting due to heat stroke, fever, infection, trauma, tumors, neurological disorders, nerve disorders or Cushing’s disease.
How to Treat Cat Panting
There is little you can do to immediately treat your cat’s panting other than bring him to the vet for diagnosis and corresponding treatment. Call us first and describe what’s happening to determine if a vet visit is necessary.
Because a car ride to our office may stress your cat and make his panting worse, try to keep him as calm as possible. Place your cat in a carrier rather than holding him to prevent compromising his breathing. Place the carrier on the floor where visual stimuli can’t further add to his stress.
Once you arrive at Germantown Vet, we’ll put your cat on oxygen right away and help him calm down so his breathing slows back to normal. Then we’ll perform a thorough physical exam, focusing on the chest and lungs, to figure out what’s wrong. We may take X-rays, do blood tests and/or perform an electrocardiogram to diagnose the exact cause.
When we know what’s wrong, we can then begin treatment. This may involve medication, intravenous fluids, supplemental oxygen and/or draining fluid from your cat’s chest cavity. We’ll make recommendations to help your cat breathe easily from now on, though keep in mind that many diseases affecting the chest can’t be cured. Depending on your cat’s condition, follow-up vet visits may be necessary to monitor his status and help him live a healthy, normal life.
Schedule an Appointment with Germantown Vet if You’re Concerned About Your Cat’s Panting
If your cat starts panting while in a stressful situation, do your best to calm him down. If you don’t think stress is the cause, bring your kitty to Germantown Vet Clinic right away for diagnosis and treatment. A quick response gives your cat the best chance of recovery.
To schedule your appointment, please contact us today. If your cat is really having a hard time breathing, come in right away, no appointment needed. Just call us at 240-252-7467 to let us know you’re on your way!