Wednesday, May 7, 2008

When Your Cat Pants!

By Audrey Frederick

As a general rule cats do not pant, as they sweat through their paws. Having had cats most of my life I have never seen one of our cats pant.

It is said that cats pant when they are ill or when they are stressed out. Once in awhile, a cat will play hard and pant from the exertion, as will mother cats after giving birth.

Heat stroke is another cause for a cat to pant; though cats in general are smart enough not to put themselves into a position to get heatstroke, unless they are locked in a place (like a car) where they cannot get out.

Should you feel that your cat is suffering from heatstroke the best thing to do is wrap it in a cool damp towel and get it to the vet at once. Heatstroke can be fatal and quick. If you cannot get to the vet at once, cool the cat down with water from a hose. Cool water and not ice cold water is to be used.

Cats usually breathe nice quiet breaths, at an even keel, panting causes rapid breathing, usually the mouth is open, the breaths are shallow as very little air is being exchanged deep inside the cat's lungs.

What are some of the other things that can cause panting?

  • A fever can be a primary cause, as the cat's temperature rises the cat will pant to rid its body of the heat.
  • A cold will cause a cat to pant. If a cat cannot breathe through its nose naturally, it will breathe through its mouth and this may cause panting.
  • An obstruction in the nasal passages can cause a cat to pant. Polyps are the major cause and can be easily removed surgically.
  • Should a cat be anemic, this will cause a cat to pant as there are not enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen to the body.
  • Hyperthyroidism can lead to panting which can lead to heart disease.
  • Poisoning can also be a sign of panting, though cats are usually very discrete when it comes to eating things they should not.
  • Fleas can transmit a parasite that may produce a fever, red blood cell problems and anemia.
  • Respiratory problems can cause panting.
  • Heartworms in cats cause more of a respiratory disease than a heart condition, which is just the opposite of what it does in dogs. In cats it seems the larval stage (period before they get to the heart) does the most damage. The larvae often cause a condition that looks and acts like asthma.
  • A urinary infection in a male cat will cause extreme pain and this will cause the cat to pant.

These are just a few things that will cause a cat to pant and will require attention by your vet.

If you cat is panting excessively do not hesitate to make that phone call to your vet.

Along with panting look for signs of:

  • drooling
  • weakness
  • deep red gums
  • tongue and gums have turned bluish
  • coughing or wheezing
  • change in meow sound (voice) along with panting
  • snoring at night along with panting or wheezing

These are all serious signs that you should take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

Our job as a pet parent is to keep out pets healthy and a phone call to your vet may save your cat's life and ease your mind.

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1 comment:

Nani said...

My late step-cat, Chester panted when he was nervous, and he was nervous quite often. He later developed hyperthyroidism, which added to the panting, but because he panted when nervous, we didn't notice a "change" until he lost weight and was diagnosed. In retrospect, there had been times we wondered why he was nervous and perhaps he was not. To anyone reading this, if you can't find a reason why your cat is panting, it can't hurt to have the vet look into it!

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