Pet Panthers is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission.

Why do Savannah Cats Pant?

As a new Savannah cat owner, you may have a lot of questions, even if you have had domestic cats before. While they are related and very similar in a lot of ways, Savannahs still have some unique characteristics, such as having dog-like behavior, sometimes including the act of panting.

While panting in Savannahs is a little more common than in a domestic cat, it still should only occur under specific circumstances. It’s normal for a Savannah to pant after play time or sometimes after a big meal. However, random panting could be a sign of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or anxiety.

It’s important to be able to recognize when panting is a cause for seeking help from your veterinarian. While getting plenty of exercise and time outside is a good thing for your Savannah,there are some things to know to make sure you keep your Savannah happy and healthy.

Why Do Savannah Cats Pant And What To Do?

Generally speaking, cats do not normally pant,Savannahs included. When you see a dog panting it’s because it does not sweat in the traditional sense, and it cools itself through panting (and its paws). Cats also sweat through their paw pads, but only resort to panting under some type of stress. The type of stress could be something as simple as playing a bit too hard during playtime.

Heat Exhaustion

On the other hand, there are much more serious things that can cause your Savannah to pant. If the weather is really hot and your Savannah is stuck out in their enclosure or out for their walk for too long, they can begin to overheat. Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke if not addressed immediately.

Other serious issues, if the panting is becoming consistent and not just during exercise,include the possibility that your Savannah could have a heart or lung issue. These problems are less common, especially in younger healthy cats. As your Savannah gets older, you always want to keep an eye out for new developments and behavioral changes, including panting.  

More Than Your Average Cat

Under normal circumstances Savannah cats are known to pant more than the average domestic cat, and this is because they are much larger and more active. Savannahs have a high amount of energy which requires a lot of play time to burn off. During play you may have them running laps around the living room chasing their favorite toy, which can really get the blood pumping.

All that running around can really work up your Savannah and cause them to feel a bit heated, needing to pant in addition to sweating through their paws. This type of panting isn’t anything to worry yourself about as long as you recognize your Savannah’s exhaustion and allow them to recover with some rest.

In some cases, Savannahs can excite themselves during their favorite times of the day like feeding, playing, or going outside. They may start to pace and meow in their excitement, which can work them up. In this case they could start to pant from being over stimulated, but it is nothing to be concerned about.

The Effects Of Stress

However, negative anxiety can also lead to panting which can cause your Savannah to feel overwhelmed. Some things that can lead to stress-induced panting include travel, new pets in the home, new people around, certain sounds, or other environmental changes. Most of these issues can be easily addressed withoutintervention from your vet.

If you notice your Savannah has been panting more and not after exercising, take note of any recent changes in your home. Is it possible there is something causing them stress? Is there a new pet in the home that they just haven’t warmed up to yet, or possibly a new person? If so, remember that slow introductions are always the best and least stressful.

Animals do not usually enjoy travelling in vehicles. It just isn’t natural for them and can sometimes cause a lot of stress, and it is no different for your Savannah. Luckily there are a lot of different supplements and pheromones on the market today that can help keep your cat calm when traveling.

Avoid The Heat

Another good tip would be to avoid walking your Savannah if it is very hot outside, at least not for too long. If the temperature outside is too hot and your Savannah is not able to handle it, they can start tooverheat. If they have an outdoor enclosure be sure to provide plenty of water and shade orhave a cat door that leads back.     

You will know right away if your cat is overheating. They will begin to breathe and pant rapidly and more than likely will try and seek a place to lay down. If you observe this and you are outdoors,bring your Savannah inside right away. Once your Savannah is in a cool place, wrap them in a damp cloth or gently pour cool water onto them. Make sure the water is cool and not ice cold.

If your Savannah was not out for very long the cool water method should be all your Savannah needs, along with some rest. You also want to make sure they have water nearby. After overheating, keeping your Savannah hydrated is very important. Once recovered your cat should return to their normal healthy self.

Overheating

Unfortunately, if your Savannah was stuck in a hot room or outdoors for a long period of time their condition could be more serious. Overheating can also lead to heat stroke which can potentially be fatal. If you find your Savannah and they are panting heavily while laying down, unresponsive, or drooling, contact your vet immediately.

After calling your vet you will still want to wrap your Savannah in a cool damp towel to help cool them down. If possible, turn the AC on in the car or put the windows down to get cool air circulating in the car. Once you arrive your vet will take it from there.

What Your Vet May Do If Your Savannah Is Panting

If you have noticed that your cat has been panting often and for long periods, it is time for a visit to the vet. Once there your vet will give your Savannah a routine exam while also listening closely to their heart and lungs. If there are anyabnormalities,they will run a variety of tests depending on what they find.

Heart Complications

Sometimes panting can be caused by a heart murmur or an enlarged heart which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. As a result, blood becomes backed up and fluid leaks into the lungs. To check for this, your vet will do an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of your cat’s heart. This will allow your vet to visually see if there are any problems that need to be addressed.

As with the heart, if there are any abnormalities with their lungs your Savannah will receive a chest X-ray. If there are any growths or fluid buildup your Savannah could have a form of lung cancer or upper respiratory infection. However, if nothing is found it could mean your cat may just have feline asthma or allergies, which are both easily treated.

If your Savannah is brought in for heat exhaustion or heat stroke your vet will take their temperature and check their vitals before administering emergency treatment. A saline drip will almost always be hooked up to your Savannah to help with rehydration. Dehydration in addition to panting can lead to further complications and could possibly even be fatal.

Cooling Them Down

Additionally, your vet may choose to bring down your Savannah’s temperature using a cool water edema. This may not sound pleasant, but it is a fast and efficient way to bring down your Savannah’s body temperature. This is important because heat stroke can ultimately cause organ failure including in the brain, which could leave your Savannah with lifelong complications.

Once your Savannah has been stabilized your vet will continue to monitor them and run fluids through a drip. More than likely your cat will have to remain under observation overnight depending on the severity of their condition. In some cases, your Savannah may make a quick recovery and be allowed home after a few hours.

Final Thoughts

As a pet owner it is always best to know what behavior isabnormal and what is natural. For Savannahs, panting can be a safe and naturally occurring reaction to a high energy play session. They could also just be super excited but look out for consistent periods of panting or if your Savannah has been exposed to high temperatures, as they may be suffering from heat stroke.