Why Do Cats Pant In The Car?

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If you never traveled with a cat in a car you might just be figuring out that your cat didn’t really like the experience too much. Well why is this exactly? Cats don’t generally like getting in cars or traveling too much in general so as a result they tend to act weird in these situations and panting is one of those things.

Why Do Cats Pant In The Car?

Most of the time cats will pant for normal harmless reasons. The most common reason for this is because when cats are nervous their heart rate goes up and they tend to pant as a result. Other possible reasons is that they may be too hot or they just got done with some vigorous exercise.

If the temperature is fine and your cat hasn’t been doing anything such as running your cat may be going through some stress due to the car ride.

Signs Of Abnormal Panting In Cats

If your cat isn’t nervous, too hot or hasn’t been doing any exercise there may be a deeper reason why your cat is doing the panting. Here are some possible causes.

Asthma: Cats can actually get asthma. Signs of this include faster breathing, coughing and wheezing.

Congestive heart failure: They may have a possible underlining cardiovascular condition. The reason for this is because panting is equivalent to shortness of breath in cats. If you suspect your cat may have a medical condition then it may be time to get them a check up to see if there isn’t anything wrong with them.

Heart Worms: This is typically a disease of dogs but cat unfortunately can get worms as well. If your cat has worms its can cause them to have breathing difficulties.

Respiratory infection: If your cat has an infection this can also cause breathing difficulties which as a result will cause your cat to pant.
Other possible cause include anemia, extreme pain, neurological conditions etc.

If your cat has any of these symptoms even if they are just a kitten you should get them checked out as soon as you can as it can be due to any of these conditions.

How To Stop A Cat From Panting In The Car

It depends on the cause. If it is heat related then an obvious way to do this is to turn on the air conditioner which would benefit them a lot. If you don’t have an A/C then take them to an area that is a lot more cool.

The best way to stop a cat from panting when they are stressed is to do things that help them relax a bit more. Some ways that you can do this are:

Petting Them: If you can reach your hand in the carrier petting them can help them a lot in situations like this.

Cover Their Carrier: If they can’t see whats going on then they won’t be nervous being in the car or less nervous at the very least. Most carriers have a window covers built into them but if they don’t you can use something like a blanket and it works just as well.

Taking To Them: Talking tot hem can benefit them a lot. Just say calming things to them and they will most likely calm down a lot more.

Sedation: I would only do this as a last result. You can however give them something such as melotonin which is natural if you don’t want to give them medicine. You can get these in the form of treats as well which make administering it a lot easier.

Pheromone Sprays: Another way you help calm your cat down a lot more is it you use pheromone sprays. Its a type of spray that mimics a cats natural facial pheromones and as a result causes relaxation familiarity and security.

One of the most popular sprays that you can get is by Feliway Travel Spray On The Go Management Behavior Modifier Spray (click here for the chewy.com link) which a lot of pet owners seem to like including myself.

If you want more information on this you can read my article about calming you cat down here “Ways To Stop A Cat From Meowing In The Car That Actually Work“. This article that I wrote is also useful for this situation as well “How To Travel With An Anxious Cat“.


Cat panting isn’t really concerning in most cases but if you happen to see them do it a lot more especially when you are done with your car trip you should take them to the vet as soon as you can to make sure they don’t have some type of medical condition.