Snoring in Cats

Photo of Red Cat Sleeping

Westend61 / Getty Images

We all know that cats love to sleep, cats can sleep between 12 to 16 hours a day on average. Sometimes you may hear your cat snoring while they catnap, but is this normal in cats?

What Is Snoring?

Snoring is a sound that is generated during sleep by vibration of loose tissue in the upper airway. Snoring occurs when the passages in the upper airways which include the nose, back of the mouth, or throat vibrate audibly during breathing. Vibrations and the resulting snoring are most likely to occur when the tissues of the upper airways are relaxed during sleep.

Snoring in cats can be normal, but in some cases, snoring may indicate a medical problem. 

Why Does My Cat Snore?

There are various reasons that can cause your cats to snore when they are sleeping but below are some of the most common causes. 

  • Brachycephalic Breed: Brachycephalic cat breeds, such as Persians, Burmese and Himalayan are often predisposed to snoring. Brachycephalic” comes from two words, with “brachy” meaning shortened and “cephalic” meaning head. Hence, the skull bones of brachycephalic cats are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a pushed in appearance. With the shortened nasal passages of these cats, they often develop breathing problems, including snoring. 
  • Overweight: Overweight cats have a higher tendency to snore due to the excess fat depositing in the tissues surrounding the upper airways. One of the many reasons you should try to prevent your cat from becoming overweight.
  • Sleep Position: Cats can sleep in the most unbelievable positions due to how flexible they are and sometimes these awkward positions can cause your cat to snore. If this is the case, the sound should be brief and stop when your cat changes positions. 
  • Respiratory Issues: Respiratory illnesses including a bacterial or fungal infection and asthma can often cause snoring. Other symptoms of a respiratory infection are discharge from eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and decreased activity and appetite. 
  • Presence of Foreign Objects: Foreign objects such as a grass blade in the back of the mouth or nose can trigger snoring as well as coughing and agitation. 

In addition to the above, other possible causes include allergies, polyps or masses, inflammation, and/or trauma. 

When Is Snoring in Cats Not Normal?

Although, snoring can be normal for your cat, it’s important to know when to be concerned. If you notice your cat suddenly starts snoring, snoring becomes louder, or your cat is experiencing other symptoms along with snoring such as sneezing, coughing, and changes in appetite or behavior, you should contact your veterinarian. If you ever notice your cat panting, wheezing, having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

How to Prevent Cats From Snoring?

Snoring can be normal and is more common in some breeds than others but there are health issues that can increase the likelihood of your cat snoring like obesity, which you can help prevent along with annual veterinary visits. 

Exercise

Exercising their prey drive with interactive play is a crucial part of your cat’s development and contributes greatly to their quality of life. Use a wand toy such as a feather wand or a mouse on a string, and move the toy like the prey that it is supposed to represent. Just like us, not all cats love the same things, so try a few wand toys to see what the cat enjoys. Also, providing your cat with toys they can play with on their own is recommended, everything from ping pong balls, motorized toys and catnip kicker toys, which are great for cats to attack, bunny kick, and snuggle with. Toy rotation is a simple idea that will keep your cat more interested in playing and prevent boredom.

Provide Perches and Create Space to Climb

Climbing is great for balance, helping your cat maintain their agility and getting them to move more. Also, perches will allow your cats to space themselves out as they prefer. Cats enjoy exploring vertical spaces as well as having a high vantage point from which to view the outside world. Window perches, cat trees and cat-friendly shelving are ideal ways to vary your cat’s environment.  

Food Puzzles

Food puzzles help to slow down eating, prevent boredom and obesity and allow cats to eat more instinctively by allowing them to forage and “hunt” for their food. There are various food dispensing toys for cats that you can purchase, and you can even make your own. I recommend starting with an easier, beginner puzzle and work up based on your individual cat’s preference.

Annual Veterinary Visits

Regular wellness exams are an important part to keeping your cat happy and healthy. Cats are masters of hiding pain and illness due to being both prey and predator animals and annual vet visits can help make you aware that your cat is overweight or has another medical issue sooner. Preventive care is always better than reactive care. 

While snoring is less common in cats than dogs or humans, it is considered normal sleeping habit in most cases. However, if your cat's snoring is accompanied with other physical or behavioral changes, a veterinary visit is best.