Why Does My Cat Purr with His Mouth Open?

Many cat owners have observed their feline friends purring with their mouths open and wondered what it means. While purring itself is a common behavior in cats that often signifies contentment, the open mouth during purring can indicate something more. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind why cats sometimes purr with their mouths open.


One possible explanation for a cat purring with its mouth open is panting. Cats use panting as a way to cool down when they are overheated. Similar to dogs, cats have sweat glands on their paw pads, but they are not as effective in regulating body temperature. Hence, when a cat engages in strenuous activity or experiences excessive heat, it may resort to panting. Purring while panting could be the cat’s attempt to regulate its breathing and restore a normal temperature.

Dental or Oral Pain

Another reason why a cat may purr with its mouth open is dental or oral pain. Just like humans, cats can suffer from various dental issues that cause discomfort or pain. These may include gum inflammation, tooth decay, or oral infections. Cats are known to purr not only when they are happy but also when they are stressed or in pain. So, if your feline friend is purring with an open mouth, it might be an indication that it is experiencing oral or dental discomfort.

Excitement or Anxiety

Cats may also purr with their mouths open due to heightened excitement or anxiety. When a cat is highly stimulated or agitated, its purring can intensify, leading to an open mouth. This behavior is commonly observed in situations such as playtime or when encountering new environments, people, or animals. It is important to pay attention to other signs of nervousness or fear, such as dilated pupils, flattened ears, or a tense body posture, to determine if the open-mouthed purring is related to anxiety.

Breathing Difficulty

In some cases, a cat may purr with its mouth open if it is experiencing breathing difficulty. This can occur due to respiratory illnesses like asthma or allergies, which may cause congestion or inflammation of the airways. Purring helps cats relax, and by opening their mouths, they can increase the airflow and alleviate the breathing discomfort. If you notice your cat displaying other respiratory symptoms like wheezing, coughing, or labored breathing, it is essential to seek veterinary care.


Cats use various forms of communication to express their needs and feelings. Open-mouthed purring can be a part of their communication repertoire. When a cat purrs with its mouth slightly open, it might be an invitation for social interaction. Cats may use this behavior to attract attention, show affection, or indicate their desire to play. It is important to consider the overall body language of the cat alongside open-mouthed purring to fully understand their intentions.

Other Possible Causes

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, there can be other factors contributing to a cat purring with an open mouth. Some cats simply have a tendency to purr with their mouths open, and it may not necessarily indicate a problem. Each cat is unique, and their behavior can vary. However, if you notice any concerning or unusual signs accompanying the open-mouthed purring, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian for appropriate evaluation and guidance.

In conclusion, cats may purr with their mouths open for a variety of reasons, including panting, dental or oral pain, excitement or anxiety, breathing difficulty, or communication. It is important to consider the context, other behavioral cues, and the overall well-being of the cat to interpret this behavior accurately. If you have concerns about your cat’s open-mouthed purring, consulting a veterinarian can provide you with the necessary insights and ensure the health and happiness of your feline companion.