Why Do Cats Pant in the Car?

by Hayley
Why Do Cats Pant in the Car
Why Do Some Cats Hate Being in Cars

Cats are one of the most domesticated animals in the world aside from dogs. This being said, it is hard for them to travel for a very long time from one place to another. You can’t force them to go for long rides without preparing the proper equipment to prevent them from getting uncomfortable or panting.

So, why do cats pant in the car? There are ordinary and rare reasons for this which will be discussed further below. But one thing is for sure, before driving your cat to the nearest vet or to your parent’s house to spend the weekends, double-check first whether your cat will be happy riding your vehicle.

Why Does My Cat Pant in the Car?

Cats pant in the car for different reasons because they still have individuality after all. However, there are distinct reasons why hyperventilating is apparent for your furry friend once they enter the vehicle. These are the following:

They Are Stressed

First on our list is stress or anxiety. Cats are naturally anxious for a lot of things because of their animal instincts. You will always see them as being overprotective and aloof because they don’t want to get smothered by predators. This being said, you will see them panting hard at the backseat of your car a lot of times.

Read also: What Can I Give My Cat To Calm Her Down? 8 Effective Solutions

They Are Nauseous

Next is nausea. Just like humans, some cats don’t like traveling because they can’t withstand moving through a car. They feel like they are getting sick just because of the environment inside the vehicle. But through time, they will conquer this after a lot of long rides.

They Feel Hot

On a sunny day or in summer, even if the air conditioning of your car is at its maximum, you can still feel the heat of the outside. Cats are very sensitive creatures on all things and not just on their noses.

They Are Afraid

Another reason why do cats pant in the car is that they are afraid that something might happen once the same starts moving. Always remember that they are used to being stable at your house or apartment. This being said, you can expect that they will feel something new and might panic.

Read also: 5 Best Calming Treats for Cats on a Budget

They Have Medical Issues

Cats might hyperventilate when they are inside the car because of some medical issues that you already know or have yet to be apparent. When you’re unsure as to why your car pant excessively, you need to bring them to the vet as soon as possible.

They Are New To Cars

Last but not least, cats are new to the feeling of getting inside the car and traveling from your house to a new place. This is not surprising because even us, humans, on our first time riding a 4-wheel vehicle, have felt off and not used to riding the same.

What Other Rare Reasons That Can Cause Cat Panting?

Aside from the above-mentioned reasons, there are also rare or unusual reasons why cats pant in the car which signify that they need urgent medical attention. These are the following:


Did you know that even cats or animals, in general, can have asthma? This is because their lungs are almost similar to humans. So when you see your cat hyperventilating or catching their breath at the back of the car, there is a big chance that they have asthma.

Throat Blockage

Another reason is throat blockage. This is due to a lot of reasons and one of them is fur balls. Cats love licking themselves as a mode to remove dirt from their body and supposedly clean the same. As a result, a lot of their fur gets stuck in their throats forming a furball.

Congestive Heart Failure

Your cat might also have congestive heart failure which needs urgent medical attention. This can’t be seen right away because it is inside them. However, you can track whether your cat has this kind of medical condition when you bring them to a monthly vet check-up and treatment.

Respiratory Infection

Last but not least is a respiratory infection. Aside from asthma, cats may pant when they are inside the car when they experience this kind of infection. This does not only affect the lungs but all the parts of the respiratory system.

Why Do Some Cats Hate Being in Cars?

Some cats hate being in a car mainly for the reason of their animal instincts wanting to stay in a stationary place. They want to have full control of the whole area so making them ride a car for their vet appointment or other schedules will shake them off a little.

Aside from this, they also hate not having their favorite bed or pillows beside them. Cars usually can only accommodate certain kinds of portable car seats for pets so this might give them discomfort the whole ride.

How Can I Calm My Cat Down in the Car?

So after knowing all the reasons behind the panting of your cat at your car’s backseat, it’s now time that you learn how you can calm your cat in the car.

Let Them Drink Water

The first thing that you need to do to calm your cat in the car is to give them water. But remember to only feed them just enough to calm their nerves. You don’t want them to vomit inside the car, right? Have the water inside a sealed container as well.

Read also: Can Cats Drink Distilled Water?

Full Blast the A/C

Next is to turn the A/C of your car in full blast. This is to make sure that your cat will feel cool and comfortable even if the travel time is long. It will also distract them from overthinking because they are not feeling hot.

Utilize Stopovers

You also need to utilize stopovers when you can. This is inevitable on long road trips because just like humans, cats need to pee and eat as well. You can plan your stopovers to make sure that every hour or two, you and your cat can take a break from driving.

Have Them Checked-up

Before traveling, you need to get your feline friend checked up by a professional or a veterinarian. This is to make sure that your furry friend is safe to travel and can withstand the boredom and the motion of a motor vehicle driving at a certain speed.

How Can I Reduce the Chance of My Cat Panting During Car Rides?

Below are the ways how you can reduce the chance of your cat panting during car rides:

Choose the Right Cat Carrier

By choosing the right cat carrier for your feline friend, you might be able to make them more comfortable the whole journey. You need to ensure that they feel like they are in their beds at home.

Read also: Best Cat Carrier For Car Travel – Updated Guide

Train Your Cat

Next is to train your cat by bringing for short drives from time to time. By doing this, you will make them feel like they can now travel to a farther destination. When going to the park, you can bring your cat.

Don’t Feed Your Cat Breakfast

If your furry friend loves eating breakfast and then puking in the car, you need to take a stand and withhold their breakfast before the long ride. this is to make sure that they will not feel nauseous when traveling.

Make the Carrier Stable

Use high-quality cat carriers to install in your car. Use the straps as well to make sure that the carrier will be stable and will not move when you turn or swerve ways.

Read also: How to Get an Aggressive Cat Into a Carrier – Proven Methods!

Travel at the Right Time

When your cat hates the scorching heat of the day, you can travel early in the morning or late at night just to make sure that they are comfortable.

Open Relaxing Fumes

Have some fumes or essential oils spread across the car to relax the both of you. You can buy lavender fumes or even lemon fresheners to make sure that your cat’s mind is relaxed.

Play Some Music

Last but not least, play the kind of music that your cat loves. This can be classical music or pop music depending on the liking of both of you. This will distract them from thinking that they are riding a vehicle.


Why do cats pant in the car? Mainly because they are afraid or not used to riding the same. But other reasons might be because of some medical conditions that they have. This being said, your cat’s comfort should be your number one priority so prepare them long before bringing them on your very first road trip together.

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