“Why does my cat huff,” you think to yourself as you observe your fluffy friend running around producing strange sounds. “Would this be the moment to schedule an appointment with her veterinarian or,” you mumble under your breath knowing she’s too busy with whatever she’s doing to answer.
“When did pet parenting become such a daring endeavor,” you find yourself drifting away from what’s happening right there and then. You can’t help but wonder about the what-ifs and could-have-beens of getting a precious purrincess and knowing how to keep her safe.
And, you can’t help but laugh at yourself knowing you’re overthinking and overanalyzing… again. Cats are weird and your cat won’t stop being weird because that’s what’s keeping you up at night. Oh, and your cat won’t stop huffing and puffing because that’s what’s pushing you over the edge.
“What’s a little huffing and puffing compared to what other cats do,” you attempt to make yourself feel better. But, you’re not far from the truth because cats display a bunch of odd behaviors – they knock things down, “knead the dough” on top of you, headbutt you, and do the “elevator butt” thing.
And, these odd behaviors make a lot of sense to your fluffy friend. They’re a great way for them to communicate what they’re feeling, demand attention, and even display frustration and aggression. They’re a great way for them to annoy you when you’re trying to have your beauty sleep, too.
“But, why does my cat huff?” sounds like something you might utter right about now. When such attention-seeking behaviors make sense to our furry friends, they must have a reason for huffing and puffing, right? They don’t simply wake up with the thought “Today’s a great day for huffing!”, right?
Here’s what we know!
Cat communication quirks
You came knocking on the right door, didn’t you!? Cats huff and puff because they’re frustrated with something or someone. Cat huffing (other than being a telltale sign of frustration) can mean that your cat’s exhausted or overwhelmed, too. But, there’s more – and that’s what we’re here for.
“Why does my cat huff?” typically follows a bunch of other questions such as “Why does my cat paw at smooth surfaces?“ Or “Why does my cat show me her butt ALL THE TIME?!”. And, you might have figured this one out yourself, but cats do that because they’re cats and because they can.
Odd behavior’s something that makes them… them. And, whether you can stomach that or not, odd behavior makes sense to them – because everything they do, they do for a good reason. You might not understand that reason at first, but that’s why we’re here.
Your fluffy friend might headbutt you now and then making you wonder “Why does she do that?”. But, she’s only doing that because she’s marking her territory and claiming you as one of her own. She’s rubbing her pheromones on you and she’s doing that on purpose!
Or, your furry friend might storm out of the apartment only to storm back as fast as she can – and repeat that a couple of times knocking down everything that’s on her way. Such behavior’s known as “the zoomies” and serves as a great way to get rid of stress. Whatever your cat might be doing, she’s doing that for herself.
Strange sounds and odd behaviors seem to be your cat’s way of communicating her needs, feelings, and wants. So, you might want to brush up on your knowledge and offer your precious purrincess a helping hand. And, here’s our little contribution!
Why does my cat huff?
1. She’s grumpy
“Why does my cat huff? She’s the happiest kitten I’ve ever seen! She spends her days chasing after butterflies, sleeping on the grass while the sunshine’s keeping her fluff warm, and munching on the most delicious cat treats out there. She’s like Rapawnzel; why would she be grumpy!?”
That might be the way you see your precious purrincess, but… There’s always a but when we’re talking about the quirky kitty antics.
Kitties get frustrated, stressed out, and annoyed with the world around them all the time. Wouldn’t you be annoyed if the butterfly you were chasing for the past 40 minutes turned out to be a moth?
And, kitties huff out of frustration and grumpiness because that’s what makes them feel better. You might scream at the top of your lungs when you have an early morning meeting after a night out. Or, you might punch the pillow on your bed when the alarm goes off.
But, the curious little creature huffs and puffs when she’s frustrated. And, don’t even get me started on the strange sounds coming out of her mouth when you accidentally step on her paw! Cats don’t hold a grudge for too long, though!
2. She wants you and your attention
Oh, the definition of attention-seeking behavior! Trust me, cats huff and puff when they want something from you. Whether that’s a couple of minutes of cuddling, a bite of your turkey sandwich, or even for you to open the door and let her go outside.
Cats are pretty much like fluffy toddlers! They know what they want and they know when they want that – but they don’t have the ability to get that for themselves. So, they need you. They don’t speak English (or whichever language you’re speaking) so they need the huffing and puffing.
But, when your fluffy friend’s displaying such behavior because she wants attention she’s showing you that she loves you and appreciates your company (as strange as that might sound). And, you’re the one who reinforced such behavior when you continued responding to her hints and tricks.
3. She’s having the time of her life
“Why does my cat huff? And don’t give me that whole “she’s grumpy” speech because she’s not. She looks like she’s having the time of her life but she keeps huffing and puffing!” Does that look like something you would say when you’re watching over your furry friend living her best life?
You might be happy to hear that cats can huff when they’re calm and comfortable, too. As a matter of fact, the type of huff she does sounds more like a sigh – and a sigh of relief more than anything else. You might hear her huff that way when she’s lounging on the sofa or when she’s resting after a big meal.
Not to mention that she might let out a huff moments after she does her little “kneading the dough” mention on your thighs, curls up on top of you, and prepares for the best nap of her life. You know what that means, though – you can’t move as long as she’s sleeping on top of you! That’s the law!
4. She’s tired
“Maybe she’s tired? I know I’m huffing and puffing whenever I’m going up a long flight of stairs or whenever I’m at the gym trying to get my bikini body ready for the summer!” Your four-legged friend might not be working on her bikini body (because she’s purrfect), but that’s not to say that she’s not huffing because she’s tired.
Maybe she’s been running outside for the entirety of the morning chasing after a mouse. Maybe she’s been licking herself clean after experiencing a “pond accident.” Or, maybe she’s been working really hard trying to put bread on the table for her family. Who knows?!
And, huffing out of weariness seems pretty common among felines which means you have nothing to worry about. As long as her breath returns to “normal” after a couple of minutes, you don’t have to rush her to the emergency animal center (even though you know you want to).
5. She’s trying to catch her breath
“Why does my cat huff? She sounds like she’s trying to catch her breath!” That might be the reason why – you might think your cat’s huffing when she’s trying to catch her breath after running, playing, or even eating (some cats eat very, very vigorously).
There’s nothing wrong with that, kind of. When your cat’s trying to catch her breath, make sure she’s not choking on something. Cats are curious creatures and they don’t shy away from munching on everything they can get their paws on – berries, seeds, bones, and even things that aren’t considered food, AT ALL.
And, that’s why they’re susceptible to choking. You might catch them huffing and puffing trying to get something out of their throat and/or esophagus. And, you might want to rush them to the emergency animal center ASAP (which doesn’t sound bad, as long as you can’t help them yourself).
6. She’s wheezing and/or experiencing respiratory problems
Now, your furry friend might huff because she’s trying to catch her breath after choking on a chicken bone. But, she might also huff because she’s experiencing respiratory problems and/or showing symptoms of respiratory disease. But, how do you know whether you should start panicking or not?!
For starters, you shouldn’t panic AT ALL! There’s no reason why your furry friend shouldn’t be fine with proper care and medication, regardless of why she’s huffing. But, on the off chance that she’s huffing because of respiratory disease, she might showcase other symptoms.
Sneezing, wheezing, stuffy (and runny) nose, coughing, gagging, fever, and decreased appetite are only some of the symptoms pointing towards a respiratory infection or some other respiratory disease. Make sure to contact your vet the moment that you notice any of these symptoms and voilà!
7. She’s stressed out
“Aren’t we all!? My cat’s huffing because she’s stressed out? What does she have to be stressed out about?!“
Here’s the thing, the funny, little snippets of pet parents’ monologues are here to help you picture what you or someone else might say when your cat starts displaying off behavior. But, they’re pretty accurate, aren’t they?
As a matter of fact, most pet parents don’t notice the most obvious signs of stress because they don’t think that’s a pawsibility. And, that’s not necessarily the fault of the parents. Cats are really, really good at hiding signs of stress as it helps them survive and hide from predators.
And, huffing’s not the only sign of stress which means you might want to observe and analyze your fluff’s behavior for a little bit. Anything that’s out of the ordinary might serve as a telltale sign – hiding under the table, running away from humans, overeating or not eating whatsoever, meowing, growling, and even vomiting and diarrhea.
Consult with your vet and conduct your own research – trust me, there are plenty of tips and tricks on how to make your fluffy friend feel better (depending on the reason for her behavior).
8. She’s hurting
“Why does my cat huff?” Maybe because she’s stubbed one of her paws? Or maybe she has a stomachache after munching on that moth? Whatever the reason might be, cats tend to pretend like everything’s fine when they’re feeling uncomfortable or when they’re hurting.
But, you might be able to decipher whether her huffing means she’s hurting when you observe other symptoms. So, you might notice she doesn’t want to eat or go outside whenever you try to get her to play. And, you might notice she’s behaving differently, hiding away from you, and huffing when you touch her.
Make sure to schedule an appointment with your vet the moment that you notice these symptoms. She might have hurt herself while she was playing, but she might have ALSO contracted a disease. Trust me; you’re better off knowing what’s going on than guessing and treating her yourself.
When does huffing become a “contact your vet” problem?
Now, cats CLEARLY huff for a bunch of reasons and you’re the one that needs to figure out whether those reasons are worth the vet visit. Trust me, you don’t want to be the pet parent that cries “Wolf!” whenever something happens!
More times than not, huffing’s not something to lose sleep over. Cats huff and puff when they’re annoyed with you, when they wake up from a particularly enjoyable Sunday nap, or even when they’re tired. But, there are times when cats huff because of a health problem.
And, those are the times that you should contact your vet without the fear of being the pet parent who cried “Wolf!” Huffing that’s accompanied by wheezing, panting, or difficulty breathing might suggest your cat’s choking or even experiencing symptoms of respiratory diseases.
Oh and, when such behavior continues over a longer period – you might want to rush your fluffy friend to an appointment. Diseases such as dyspnea, asthma, and other respiratory diseases might start as a simple huff.
Distinguishing between communicative huffing and a medical problem might be tough, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
And, how to stop your cat from huffing?
Here’s the thing, stopping your cat from huffing EVER AGAIN might not be something you can accomplish on your own. Granted your cat huffs as a form of communication, a cat behaviorist might be able to help you keep huffing and puffing to a minimum.
But, when your cat huffs as a result of something (discomfort, distress, frustration, and health problems) you might be better off letting her off the hook. Huffing can help you catch a health problem you, otherwise, might not be able to catch in time to react.
When you notice your cat huffing, try to stop whatever you’re doing and let her chill out and cool down. Stop encouraging the huffing behavior as he might start feeling lightheaded and under the weather after some time. She should be back to her shenanigans after a couple of minutes!
Read this: Why Does My Cat Squeak When I Pick Him Up? Am I Hurting Him?