Why Does My Cat Huff? (Top Reasons)

Why does your cat huff when you’re hanging out or even playing?

A hiss is short for a step back, and a chirp accompanied by a tail in the air is how many cats say hello.

While some cat sounds are self-explanatory, why your cat huffs might be a little more complicated than you think.

Why Does My Cat Huff

This article mentions some concerning health conditions.

But they’re just suggestions you might consider for the sake of safety.

Read til the end before you start worrying yourself because your cat huffing might be just a huff.

First, though, let’s agree on what a “huff” is precisely…

What Kind Of “Huff” Is Your Cat Making?

A huff is an exhale through the nose. Plain and simple.

What differentiates the huff is how your cat does it.

And this can tell you how your cat is feeling and perhaps even how they’re doing health-wise.

1. Sighing

If your cat is audibly exhaling out of nowhere while resting – especially if they do it slowly – they might be that, a sigh.

Yes, cats sigh! But for different reasons than we do.

As this great article on cat sighing explains, cats don’t sigh because they’re sad.

When a cat is sad, it probably won’t make any noise.

While humans sigh for all kinds of reasons (though usually out of tiredness or frustration), cats will do it when they feel safe, relaxed, and at home.

So think of it as a sigh of relief when you sink into a hot bath at the end of a long day.

2. Panting

Panting might be obvious, but it’s a good idea to include it anyway, as this could have significant implications for your cat’s health.

If your cat is breathing audibly with its mouth open, they struggle to breathe.

Panting can sometimes be harmless if your cat overexerts itself while playing or gets overheated.

However, if your cat does this regularly, a trip to the vet is the next best thing you should do.

Panting could signify heartworm, respiratory infection, or even feline asthma!

So err on the side of caution.

3. Wheezing

A wheeze in a cat is kind of like panting with their mouth shut or labored breathing.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this is a sign of respiratory distress.

Any sign of respiratory distress in your cat is something to talk with your vet about.

Cats don’t know how to tell us they’re ill.

This means that they might already be suffering silently from asthma and be pretty uncomfortable!

4. A Plain Old Huff

But what if your cat is simply doing a short, quick huff out their nose with its mouth shut?

Well, they might actually be mad at you.

It’s not incredibly common, but some cats huff and puff when frustrated or worked up.

This could happen if you’ve done something to upset them (like not feeding them when they want to be fed).

Or if they’re trying to catch a bird or toy they can’t get to.

Reasons cats huff

Another cat behavior you might see in this latter situation is: “chattering.”

This sort of “akakak” sound your cat makes means it is getting excited to play or hunt and maybe even a little over-excited.

Learn more on the adorable phenomenon of cat chattering if you’ve got the time!

Why Does My Cat Huff At Me? I Love Him!

Accept That Your Cat Will Occasionally Get Grumpy

It’s too easy to analyze our cats and project human emotions onto them.

However, remember that the reality they’re living in is different from yours.

And they don’t project morals onto people the way we do.

Temporary grumpiness is as expected for them as it is for us.

As long as your cat seems content, curious and relaxed, they’re probably living a happy life.

The only time you’d have to worry will be if they’ve lost their “spark.”

Losing their spark could mean a sudden apathy to play or cuddles, not eating, seeming scared, or being overly aggressive.

Your cat will get annoyed at you from time to time.

Just accept that and remember that cats don’t hold grudges as we do.

How Long Does A Cat Hold A Grudge?

If you’ve accidentally sat on your cat’s tail, suddenly gone on holiday, or even had to feed them later than usual, your cat might go in a huff or physically huff at you.

They’re annoyed, but it won’t last forever,

This fantastic article on cat grudges and cat memory explains that cats have poor working memory.

Unfortunately, this also means that your cat may forget day-to-day events quickly as the cat continues to live in a relatively “moment-to-moment” fashion.

Considering this, along with the fact that cats’ emotions aren’t as complicated as ours, they’re not going to lose sleep over a bit of transgression.

However, that doesn’t mean your cat has no memory at all.

As any cat owner knows, cats learn to associate particular objects, sounds, and actions with positive or negative outcomes.

And cats can experience trauma in a similar way to us.

If a cat gets shouted at, it’ll learn to see shouting as painful and become scared of loud noises.

But conversely, if you have a friend that always gives your cat treats when they come over, they’ll start getting excited every time they see that friend.

Why Does My Cat Huff, Though? I Still Don’t Know!

As we mentioned, you must check with your vet if your cat’s behavior worries you.

But as long as they don’t seem to be in respiratory distress, it’s probably nothing.

If they do it once out of the blue for no reason, they might just have some dust in their nose! Who knows?

Take a video if you like, and show it to some of your cat-parent friends or your vet, and see what they say.

And try not to worry if your cat gets grumpy at you sometimes!