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Why Does My Cat Pant Like A Dog

Taking care of your beloved cat is an ongoing effort of close monitoring and interaction. You may notice your cat exposing its tongue and panting like a dog, a cut sight for some. However, understanding the underlying cause for this behavior is important as there are several reasons that might be causing this behavior and immediate attention may be required.  

kitten cat tongue

Cats that expose their tongues out on occasion are acting well within normal cat behavior. If accompanied by audible gasps or panting, closer investigation will be required to discover the cause. Here are four reasons why your cat pants like a dog:  

  1. Help with heat dissipation

Like a dog, a cat has sweat glands on its surface, but they are not developed to help dissipate heat. Only sweat glands on the sole of the foot can effectively perspire. There are two ways to effectively dissipate heat in both cats and dogs. One being perspiration and the other, respiratory evaporation. The former principle relies on sweat glands on the soles (paws) to sweat and evaporate, just like we do. Alternatively, when the temperature of a cat or dog is too high, heat will gather in the chest area causing open mouth exhalation of hot air in an effort dissipate heat, thus reducing body temperature.  

Open mouth breathing to cool body temperature is common behavior for dogs but rare in cats. When a cat experiences stress or extreme heat conditions, heat dissipation via its paws will not suffice, they will resort to labored exhalation. If your cat often pants like a dog during very hot summers, it could be a precursor sign of heat stroke. Immediate adjustment of environment temperature will be required to help your kitty cool down. If your cat has been playing too hard, they may also pant, let them calm down and see if the panting subsides.

 

  1. Stress response

When a cat is stressed or suddenly frightened, it will cause its heart rate to accelerate, raising body temperature in the process. A series of stress induced reactions will follow, including open mouth breathing, a direct result of negative stress conditions.

cat in car

Just like us humans, cats can suffer from car sickness. During a long and bumpy journey, cats can experience stressful reactions. Symptoms include poor breathing, dizziness, physical imbalance, nausea and vomiting. If this happens to your cat, they will typically curl up and open their mouth, gasping for air. Stress induced gasping is often accompanied by increased saliva/ foaming at the mouth and even incontinence.

  1. Improve oxygen supply

Like most animals, cats usually breathe through the nose. When a cat is deprived of oxygen, the nasal cavity cannot inhale the required amount of oxygen. To compensate, open mouth breathing, and gasping is used to increase oxygen supply. Such observations are evidence of an already present condition that may be bronchitis, primary or secondary cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, asthma, pneumonia and so on.

When a cat experiences low oxygen conditions, it will also show signs of lethargy and difficulty in movement. If these conditions are observed, they should be taken to the vet immediately for medical diagnosis and treatment.

  1. Relieve discomfort

Cats can experience discomfort in the respiratory tract, bronchi, and cardiopulmonary function. It’s a little more problematic than a sore throat as it relates to possible oral diseases. oral ulcers, perioral disease, and feline stomatitis are all possible causes of discomfort that will yield similar symptoms.

In order to relieve pain and discomfort, a cat will open its mouth, exposing the tongue outside to avoid contact with sensitive areas. Symptoms will usually be accompanied by increased saliva and oral mucus, difficulty eating, and poor physical condition. Immediate medical attention should be sought from a vet in this scenario.

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