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Home > Cats > Why Is My Cat Panting After Playing & Is It Normal? 7 Vet Reviewed Causes

Why Is My Cat Panting After Playing & Is It Normal? 7 Vet Reviewed Causes

Blue tabby cat panting in hot weather

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Unfortunately, cats can’t speak to tell us how they’re feeling. This means that, in our role as pet parents, it is our job to ensure they’re OK and to look for possible signs of distress. We also need to ensure that our cats are healthy, fit, and well, and this includes making sure that they are getting enough exercise to keep them in shape.

Playtime is not only a good way to ensure fitness, but it can form a tight bond between you and your cat, while some cats find myriad ways in which to entertain themselves. If your cat is panting after playing, it could be a sign that they have overdone it and are panting to regulate temperature and normalize the oxygen levels in the body.

However, it could also be a sign of potential problems including asthma, heartworm, or even heart problems. Read on for more information and what to do about your cat panting.


Top 7 Causes Why Your Cat is Panting

When trying to determine the reason your cat is panting after playing, it is important to get some context. If your cat does not usually play or exercise much and has just finished chasing a laser pointer for half an hour, it is likely exhausted and the panting should pass. Causes for your cat panting excessively or suddenly include:

1. Heat

Cats are good at regulating their own body temperatures, but they can get overly hot especially when they have been playing or exercising. They can sweat through glands in their paws, but if they are especially hot, cats also pant to release heat via evaporation.

It is unusual to see a cat pant because the ambient temperature has caused them to overheat. They will usually seek a cooler spot to prevent this from happening. Following exercise, panting is more likely.

cat is sleeping while basking in the sun heat
Image By: qimono, Pixabay

2. Stress

It is more likely that a cat will pant through stress rather than because they are hot. This might be the cause if your cat has been playing with another cat, a dog, or a toy that they find especially frustrating. It could also be caused if they are stressed by pain or some incident that occurred while playing.

3. Asthma

Asthma occurs when the respiratory system’s small air passage tubes, called bronchi, get inflamed. It can prevent your cat from being able to inhale as much air as it needs. In this case, panting is your cat’s way of trying to inhale more air. Cats can suffer from asthma, just like people, and it may be triggered by exercise, exposure to allergens, or stress.

cat with asthma getting treatment
Image Credit: RozochkaIvn, Shutterstock

4. Heartworm

Heartworms are tiny parasitic worms that take residence in the lungs and hearts of cats. Heartworms are extremely serious and, as well as panting, they can cause wheezing and coughing. If your cat is showing symptoms, you must seek veterinary advice as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming fatal.

5. Heart Problems

Heart failure can be common in cats, including in young cats and even kittens. Symptoms include panting because restricted blood flow means less oxygen is circulating around your cat’s body. Other symptoms include rapid breathing and you may also notice your cat’s gums turn a pale blue color. Rapid diagnostic and treatment plans are vital if your cat is suffering from heart problems.

The Maine coon cat ‘s checkered lung and heart sound by doctors with stethoscope
Image Credit: Sommart Sombutwanitkul, Shutterstock

6. Respiratory Infection

An upper respiratory infection is similar to human flu and has similar symptoms to the common cold so, as well as panting, your cat may be coughing and sneezing, and wheezing. Unlike the common cold, an upper respiratory infection can progress to something much more serious.

7. Pain

Panting may even be a sign that your cat is in pain or discomfort. This is more likely after playing than at other times, and it could be a sign that your cat has injured itself during its play session. Look for other signs, such as limping or if your cat is licking and grooming a particular area more often than normal.

a sick cat lying on the couch
Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock


What to Do

If your cat is panting after exercise, look for any other symptoms they might be displaying and monitor your cat. It is unusual for a cat to pant after playing, but it could have been caused by an especially exertive session or if your cat doesn’t usually do any exercise at all.

If your feline friend shows any symptoms of potential illnesses like heartworm, get veterinary advice as soon as possible.

veterinarian is making a check up of a adult maine coon cat
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock



Some cats love to play and will play until they’re worn out. Even so, it is unusual for a cat to pant after playing in the way that a dog does.

Panting may be a sign of another problem, like asthma, or something more serious, like heartworms or a heart condition. Consider any other symptoms, speak to a vet if you are concerned, and monitor your cat to ensure they are well.

Featured Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock

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