Dogs typically breathe through the mouth and nose, but it’s common to see them panting in excitement or after exercise. When dogs get excited or overheated they cool down by panting. They rely on panting to regulate their body temperature. It’s actually pretty cool how their body works to cool them off: “The large surface area of the tongue, along with the rapid flow of air, maximizes cooling by evaporation, which is why dogs stick their tongues out when they pant.”
Some think that cats are small dogs. If they see their cat panting, they assume they’re cooling themselves down, but this is not what’s happening. First let’s talk about how cats cool themselves down. Well, they kind of “sweat” but not like you and me… “Cats lick their coats to cool down which is why your cat may groom himself more in the summer. When saliva evaporates from your cat’s fur, it provides a cooling effect, similar to a human’s sweat evaporating off of their skin.” Pretty cool, right?
Should Cats Breathe Through The Mouth?
But wait, so if a cat is panting, they are not cooling themselves down like a dog does? Well yes and no, in extremely hot weather a cat will pant in an effort to cool himself down. However, if your cat is panting it’s normally from being overheated, extremely stressed or a sign that something medical is going on. Which is very alarming!
Some issues that can cause open mouth breathing in our kitties are upper respiratory infections, asthma, lung problems, heat exhaustion, cancer and heart disease, to name a few.
Cats breathing should be smooth and relaxed, not labored. A cat that breathes through the mouth is cause for concern. If your cat is open mouth breathing or panting on a regular basis, a vet visit is in order sooner rather than later.