Running up five stairs of flight is bound to make you pant and heave like your lungs are not getting enough air, but if cats or newborn kittens do it, it may be serious.
Cats are not ever known to be breathing from their mouths or panting but it’s not rare.
Rigorous playing or working themselves may cause them to breathe heavily or pant. This phenomenon is also seen to be happening with newborn kittens.
When a kitten is born they hiss or try to hiss, which is oddly familiar to the action of panting, so if you feel like your kitten is panting look closely to see if it is actually panting or just hissing. It may be a false alarm and closer inspection might save you a panicked phone call or a visit to your vet.
Recently I came across a cat owner on social media who shared the story of how she had to urgently take in a pregnant cat for a friend.
The cat gave birth to 6 kittens, who were checked by the vet and were healthy, but she noticed that of the kittens was breathing heavily and it seemed like she was trying to take in a lot of air but just couldn’t do it, so she rushed to the vet in the middle of the night to get her checked but turns out the little baby cat was just trying to hiss and couldn’t do it.
So you need to yourself check carefully and make sure if they are actually unconventionally breathing or you may be reading the signs wrong.
Why Is My Newborn Kitten Panting?
There may be numerous reasons why your newborn kitten is panting. It could be as harmless as overheating or could be as serious as a congestive heart failure
The overall reasons for which your kitten might be panting would be :
they may be panting to regulate their body temperature in case they get too warm.
- Anxiety or distress: Small things like loud noises of construction workers or kids’ chaotic playing are enough to cause a feline to be anxious and instigate an unsure feeling.
- Overexertion: After physical play and exertion, panting is common for cats. But conventionally this is observed in older cats, not newborn kittens
- Upper respiratory infection: it is the human equivalent of a common cold. It is not fatal but highly contagious. The symptoms of URI usually go away in two to three weeks
- Collapsing lungs: This condition is called Pneumothorax. This may be caused if the cats are not getting enough air in their lungs or they are getting a huge volume of air more than they could withstand
- Pneumonia: This is a common lung infection caused by bacteria or a virus in the lungs or the air passage.
- Congestive heart failure: As the name suggests this is a situation where the heart stops pumping blood which eventually leads to a collapse of other organs and death
If your kitten is actually panting due to mild reasons like overheating or anxiety or overexertion it may subside after a few seconds, but if not you need to contact your vet immediately.
You can check if your kitten is panting if it breathing heavily with her mouth open and her tongue hanging out. There may or may not sound accompanying these actions.
Newborn kittens are sensitive and there may be other things wrong with them if they are unusually panting.
Is It Normal For Newborn Kittens To Pant?
It is not common for newborn kittens to pant but it is also not uncustomary. There have been many cases associated with severe illness to common nose blocks but it is highly unusual if your baby cat is panting.
The kitten may be panting to keep herself cold. The cats have sweat glands between their toes and on their paw pads. Sometimes they get overheated, they pant to maintain their body temperature along with using the said glands.
Regulating body temperature by panting is not uncommon. In fact, it is very common in very hot places to see cats do this very often.
It is not atypical of cats to pant due to minor and ordinary reasons like releasing body heat or physical exertion but if you see your cat sitting around breathing heavily with her mouth open and it continues to do this for more than a few minutes you need to seek medical help in that case as soon as possible.
Another reason for your cat to be panting may be dehydration. You may need to take your cat and her newborn to the vet because there may be issues with feeding, if they are not being fed properly they may be panting due to that.
If you are feeding the newborn kitten the formula, it is possible that the kitten may have some formula struck in its oesophagus. This may situation needs to be addressed medically quickly as this may be fatal for the baby.
The panting if does not stop could be more severe as heart failure or a respiratory infection.
If still the phenomena in your kitten seem unsettling to you, even after them being completely normal you need to look closer and check for the following symptoms in your cats.
- Wheezing and rapid breathing accompanied by panting
- Tinged gums
- Loss of appetite
- Anti-social behaviour
- Blocked nose
- Periodic panting
If notice any of these other symptoms along with panting you need to immediately drop your work and take your kitten to get the required medical attention because panting alone may not be serious but paired with these symptoms panting could be a sign of something fatal.
Why Is My Kitten Panting With Her Mouth Open?
How to know if your kitten is panting or hissing? Here’s how
If a cat is hissing, it releases a burst of air from its mouth. It could be due to sensing imminent danger. You can actually feel the air coming out of their mouth if you are standing close enough.
But if the cat is panting you could see their tongues hanging out and taking in shallow breaths. You can see their lungs moving up and down and working.
The main difference is cats release air while hissing while they take in air while panting.
When cats pant it is similar to the way dogs pant but you can see every dog around you panting and some more than others, but cats do not pant regularly.
Personally, I think the trait of uncommon panting adds to their grace and makes me feel like it’s another royal trait they carry, that is composing themselves and even panting is rare in them.
What To Do If Your Kitten Is Panting?
If your kitten is panting due to overheating you can give it a few minutes to subside, else you can switch on the air conditioner if you have one.
In the absence of air conditioners, you wrap a wet towel around their body and try putting them down in the cool corners of your house.
If the cat is panting due to anxiety or stress, you can try distracting the cat and if she responds how she usually does to other distracting or alluring things to which they usually respond, to get their minds off the things causing them duress.
Panting due to dehydration can be eased by giving them plenty of water to drink. In hot weather dehydration and overheating can be easily cured.
But even after using a few home remedies does not help you need to take your kitten to the vet. You may be able to save their life in time if you look carefully and identify the symptoms in time
Frequently Asked Questions
Can panting be a sign my kitten is dying?
Panting may very commonly be a sign that your kitten is dying. It may have fatal diseases or it may be a symptom of conditions such as lung collapse. but don’t panic just yet, the problem may be as simple as overheating. If you observe other symptoms along with panting you may be able to distinguish if it is harmful or normal.
What if the kitten pants, stops and then starts panting again?
You need to go to the vet immediately, if this is observed in your cat it may be a sign of something as dangerous as heartworm or a parasite inside the body of your cat which creates these types of conditions in a cat’s body.
If they are panting is it necessarily heart failure?
No, it is not necessary heart failure, there may be many reasons your kitten is panting and heart failure may be one of them, but there could be other fatal or harmless, no possibility must be ruled out and the kittens should be monitored properly.
Panting may be a regular behaviour in dogs but not in cats, especially not in newborn kittens. Reasons may range from harmless to fatal but a close watch has to be kept on the kitten if it is ever observed in them.
The kittens are small and highly sensitive creatures and they are quite vulnerable in their first few weeks too. They are fragile and may catch diseases and infections faster than others if they are not sheltered.
Sometimes there may be parasites involved which could result in a few trips to the vet or maybe even other steps such as surgery accompanied by additional procedures such as x-rays and echocardiograms.
Many times It may be a usual reason such as overheating or dehydration for which you do not need to work up a sweat as they would pass quickly. It becomes concerning when they do not pass.
So monitor closely and if you observe anything out of the blue try to seek medical help as soon as you can.