Cat Breathings Heavy

We have often seen dogs panting and breathing heavily to cool down and calm themselves. But have you seen a cat breathing heavy? This behavior is not commonly seen in felines, but if your cat is doing so, it means that your beloved kitty may be suffering from some health issues. There can be many reasons behind cat labored breathing. If you’re also wondering why is my cat breathing hard or what’s wrong with your kitty, keep reading this post!

So how do you know when a cat is breathing heavily or panting (opened-mouth breathing)? There can be normal breathing and abnormal breathing in cats. For example, if your cat panting after playing or after eating, this is normal breathing, and there is nothing to worry about. However, fast breathing in cats can also be symptoms of underlying serious health issues.

To know the type of breathing, first, you need to know about the normal cat respiratory rate. On average, the resting respiration rate of an adult cat ranges from 12-16 breaths per minute. So, usually, a feline takes between 20 and 30 breaths every minute.

Today in this post, we’ll tell you everything about a cat breathing heavy, fast breathing in felines, and how to calm a panting cat. We’ve also described the three types of cat heavy breathing, their symptoms, and their causes. Keep reading till the end to know what to do if you have a heavy breathing cat and what are the right treatments if a cat breathing fast.

Let’s start.

Signs of Fast Breathing in Cats

Signs of Fast Breathing in Cats

Why is my cat panting with her mouth open?

If you notice that your cat breathing heavy with an open mouth, check for other signs and symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loud breathing
  • Nostrils flaring
  • Gagging and Coughing
  • Rapidly rising and falling stomach or chest
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Blue-colored gums
  • Belly and chest are both moving with each breath

Causes of Fast Breathing in Cats

cat breathing heavy: Causes of Fast Breathing in Cats

There are many reasons behind a cat labored breathing, from injuries to illness. A doctor must evaluate these signs soon, so it’s important to visit your nearest vet if you don’t know why your cat is breathing rapidly.

Below are some of the common causes of fast breathing in felines:

  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Low levels of red blood cells (Anemia)
  • Heart disease or issues
  • Pain or shock
  • Exertion
  • Heartworm
  • Excess heat
  • Low oxygen levels in the blood (Hypoxemia)
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Pleural effusion
  • Injury
  • Bleeding into lungs
  • Tumors in the throat or chest
  • Pulmonary edema or Lung infection
  • Trauma or exposure to toxins

3 Types of Heavy Breathing in Cats

Heavy breathing in cats is usually classified into three categories:

  • Panting
  • Tachypnea
  • Dyspnea

Let’s know about each type of heavy breathing; then you’ll understand why does my cat breathe heavy:

1. Panting in Cats

cat breathing heavy: Panting in Cats

Like dogs, cats also pant whenever they are exposed to excessive heat or overexerted themselves. In this case, felines usually pant and rapid breathing with an open mouth.


Cats start panting with heavy breathing when

  • They feel too hot.
  • They’re excited or exert themselves.
  • After playtime or while walking.
  • They’re stressed.

Excessive panting can also indicate underlying health problems such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, heart issues, and lung problems.

What To Do:

If you feel your kitty has started panting after a walk or playtime and has no other symptoms, this is not a serious issue. Felines usually pant and rapid breathe whenever they’re stressed, overexcited, or play in a hot climate for long.

However, if your cat shows other symptoms and unusual behavior, you should immediately consult a vet.

2. Tachypnea

cat breathing heavy: Tachypnea

Tachypnea is rapid and shallow breathing in cats.


  • Bluish tint to the gums
  • Fatigue
  • Cyanosis
  • Breathing with mouth open.


  • Hypoxemia
  • Anemia
  • Nervousness
  • Heartworms
  • Heart failure
  • Fever
  • Space-occupying tumor

What To Do:

It is unusual if your cat has a resting respiration rate of over 30 breaths per minute. And if your cat’s sleeping respiration rate is more than 40 breaths per minute, you have to move immediately to the vet.

3. Dyspnea

Dyspnea, also known as Labored Breathing, is when a feline finds it extremely hard to breathe. Here are common symptoms and causes behind Labored Breathing:


  • The chest and belly are continuously moving while breathing.
  • Breathing with an open mouth.
  • Restless and sleeping issues.
  • Noisy and heavy breathing.
  • Flare nostrils.


  • If foreign objects are stuck in the throat.
  • Lung infections.
  • Bloating.
  • Tumors.
  • Fluid builds up in the lungs.
  • Enlarged liver
  • Heartworms
  • Toxins.
  • Congestive heart failure (CHF).
  • Fluid buildup.

What To Do:

Dyspnea or Labored Breathing is one of the most troubling types of rapid and heavy breathing in cats. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit the veterinarian’s office with your cat as soon as possible.

Cat Breathing Heavy: Final Words!  

So this is all about cat labored breathing. Felines are curious, active, and resilient animals. After reading this blog, you have surely got the answer to your question: why is my cat breathing fast?

From excessive heat and playing in hot weather to serious health conditions like heart issues and lung problems, there are many reasons why your cat breathing heavy. Contact your nearest vet immediately if you feel that your kitty is showing other symptoms like bluish tints in gums, Hypoxemia, Anemia, or any unusual behavior.

To know more about cat behavior, read our previous blogs on How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating, Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?, Canadian Marble Fox, and Why Do Cats Stare at You.

I hope this in-depth guide about a cat breathing heavy has helped you understand your kitty’s unusual panting and behavior.

In case you missed it!