Cats tend to become extremely stressed when they’re traveling in the car. It’s a new environment that they’re not used to, and the strange noises, movements and surroundings can cause them to breathe quickly and pant. The panting will usually stop once they’re out of the car and back to their normal calm self.
Another reason why your cat might be panting in the car is that they’re overheating. Since cats don’t sweat as humans do, they need to pant to cool down. This is especially true if they’re already stressed from being in the car. Luckily, this is something that can easily be resolved by putting them in a crate and using calming pheromone sprays.
Lastly, your cat might be panting in the car because they’re feeling nauseous. The vibrations, noises and movements of a moving car can make your cat feel sick to their stomach. This will then make them start to pant to control their breathing.
If your cat’s panting isn’t due to heat or anxiety, it could be a sign of something more serious. If they’re drooling, looking weak and lethargic or have trouble breathing, it’s time to take them to the vet right away. They may have a respiratory or heart condition, such as feline asthma, that needs to be treated immediately. They could also be suffering from extreme pain or a severe trauma. It’s best to play it safe and get them checked out by a veterinarian.