Both panting and drooling in cats can be a perfectly normal thing but when either happens excessively, this may be a sign of a larger problem. Cats often drool when purring or when they see food while panting is common when it is particularly warm. So how do you know when it is more than just normal behaviour?


One of the most common reasons that cats drool excessively is that they have problems with their mouth or teeth. Tartar build up can rub on the inside of the cat’s mouth and cause them to drool and this can be checked by pulling their lip back towards the ear. If the teeth are brown or look like concrete or the gums are red, swollen or bleeding then this is a sign of a problem and a vet’s visit is needed.

Drooling can also come when a cat has trouble swallowing or has a bad taste in their mouth. Swallowing issues can come when they had eaten something that has blocked their throat partially or even wrapped it around their tongue. Similarly, if they have eaten something bad tasting then drooling is a way of getting rid of the taste.

Drooling can also be a side effect of certain diseases and infections such as liver and kidney disease and upper respiratory infections.


Panting is the normal way a cat lowers their body temperature, particularly after exercise. They pant to allow water to evaporate from their mouth, tongue and lungs as well as swapping warm air for cool air. They also cool themselves by licking their fur and by perspiring through their paw pads. However if the panting becomes laboured, rapid or is accompanied anxiety, then this may be part of a bigger problem. Some cats also pant when they are frightened.

Rapid breathing is similar to panting and can be caused by an injury, fever, stress or being too hot. It can also be a side effect of conditions such as dehydration, lung and heart disease and even a build-up of toxic substances in the blood as a result of diabetes or kidney failure. A vet may need X-rays or other checks to establish the exact cause.

Drooling and panting

Some breeds of cats with a flat face, such as Persians, are prone to get heatstroke, though this isn’t common in cats as much as other animals with fur. It can happen if they have had too much sun and too little water and will result in both drooling and panting. Ensure cats have easy access to water and on the hottest days, keep them in shady spots and limit how much exercise they get. If you think your cat may have heatstroke, get in touch with your vet immediately.


Knowing the difference between normal panting and drooling and a sign of a problem is down to observation – know what is normal for your cat and you will be able to spot when something is abnormal. Even if you only think that there might be a problem, speak to your vet immediately rather than risk your cat’s life.