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Open-mouth panting cat?

August 8th, 2007, 09:40 AM
Hi all,

for the last two nights at dinnertime, my 5 year old kitty Riley has been "panting". I don't know how else to describe it. When it's food time, she always goes and sits next to her bowl and waits for her food...she's the last of 5 pets to get fed... and when I was feeding the other two cats I glanced over at her and noticed that she was "panting"...rapid, shallow breaths, visible belly movement, and for a bit her mouth was open and she was breathing through her mouth. It stopped when I petted her, then started again, then stopped when she started eating. I have not noticed her do this ever before. She has arthritis in her hocks and luxating patellas, for which she takes metacam. She has had two urinary tract infections in the past 10 months, treated with antibiotics. She has been on antianxiety meds in the past. Otherwise no health problems. She is otherwise perfectly normal -eating, drinking, affectionate/grumpy (very bipolar cat!), normal litterbox activity... and she did not seem distressed when this happened. Any ideas?

August 8th, 2007, 09:46 AM
could she of been smelling something? cats often smell with their mouths open, mine do it all the time... it often resembles "panting".

August 8th, 2007, 09:56 AM
Yes, I know what you mean, the flehmen gesture...the open-mouth sniffing. It kind of looked like that, but not exactly. I've seen her do that before. But maybe that's all it was...I don't know it was weird.

August 8th, 2007, 10:03 AM
Bendyfoot...could she have been hot? I thought she may have been smelling too! But you obviously know the difference...

Maybe the vet can shed a bit more light on it for you. My mother had a cat that was quite ill a few years ago and she was panting along with many other things and it was fluid on her lungs!

Cats are such funny creatures! I really wish they could talk!


August 8th, 2007, 10:34 AM
she was definately too hot if she was panting.

what;s the temperature in your house normally?

August 8th, 2007, 11:47 AM
We have air's usually around 77-80F. And it wasn't that hot yesterday or the day before either....

August 8th, 2007, 12:10 PM
When did Riley last have bloodwork done? I know that Metacam can cause kidney problems, and open-mouthed breathing can sometimes be a symptom of renal issues, so I'd be concerned about that as a possibility. There are also lots of other conditions related to open mouth breathing such as asthma, congestive heart failure, anemia, etc, or even something simple like a very vigorous bout of playing. Unlike dogs, cats don't usually pant from the heat unless it's really really freakin' hot.

If it continues, I'd say a vet visit might be your best bet. Good luck!

- forgot to add that some cats pant from stress or excitement, perhaps she's just really wound up about getting fed?

August 8th, 2007, 12:16 PM
She gets bloodwork for the metacam every 6 months. Everythings always been perfect. Last one was 3 months ago.

I'm probably making a big deal out of nothing. I'll watch for it again tonight, but it was just weird that it happened at the same time two days in a row, and no other times.

August 8th, 2007, 04:25 PM
Bendyfoot,why not try feeding her first,you mentioned she's the last one to be fed..

Dr Lee
August 8th, 2007, 06:07 PM
If your cat is truly panting to breathe - this is a medical emergency. Cats, unlike dogs or humans, are obligate nasal breathers - meaning they do not adequately exchange oxygen when inhaled through their mouth. The problem with cats is that they are so good at hiding illness.

There are however as jessi76 stated there are many behaviors which will may look like panting yet be normal behaviors. I had cat who would open his mouth like he had something to say whenever I cooked dinner. He never meowed during cooking and would do this behavior at any other time. :pawprint:

August 9th, 2007, 08:54 AM
Thanks for the input Dr. Lee. There's nothing about the "panting" that indicates to me that she's in any kind of distress at all. It starts as soon as she sits by her food dish, and stops as soon as she starts eating. I fed her first the last two meals, but she did it again at dinner last night and at breakfast this morning. It's the weirdest thing, it only lasts for maybe 10-20 seconds depending on how long it takes me to get their food container and put kibble in her dish. I have been watching her very closely and she doesn't do it any other time, not even after very active play/running. She has never ever done it before. Maybe it's just a new quirk. She's already pretty odd, so nothing would surprise me.

August 9th, 2007, 03:08 PM
I only had two cats in my lifetime who actually panted. Both were strays found in the wild and were uncomfortable with the human world around them. They would pant only when under some stress. In their case every time we went for a car ride to visit the vet...:D. Coincidentally, both had heart murmurs...don't know if the 2 are related...:shrug:

August 9th, 2007, 03:48 PM
My Chico panted once,he had jumped our fence and was gone for 2 hours,we found him on our frontporch with his tounge hanging out,it was also a very hot day..