My Cat Is Snoring: Is That Normal?

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  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

Since cats spend most of their time snoozing away, it makes sense that when they’re really relaxed, you might hear a snore here and there. Just like with us humans–and dogs, too–this is totally natural and shouldn’t be an issue. If you have a kitty that is snoring up such a storm that it’s concerning you, there could be some other things going on under all that fluff and cuteness.

Why Do Cats Snore?

Cats have sleep cycles just like we do, which include REM and deep-sleep non-REM cycles. During those REM cycles you might see your kitty “chasing butterflies” or hear them make small mewls. During the deeper, non-REM, sleep cycle is when snoring usually occurs, indicating your kitty is in a complete, relaxed sleep.

Kitties who sleep in unusual positions or are overweight may snore more than others, simply because there may be pressure on their respiratory systems. If your kitty is of a brachycephalic (also called short-nosed or flat-faced) breed, such as Persian, Himalayan or Burmese, snoring may be more pronounced and may occur more often simply because of the construction of their airways and palates.

When Is Snoring Bad?

Snoring generally isn’t an issue on its own but if you notice your kitty’s snoring is combined with other symptoms, it may be time to check in with your Vet. Here are some common signs your kitty’s snoring may be caused by something else.

Discharge from nose or eyes, sneezing, sores in mouth or on tongue: These are all signs of an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). Similar to a cold in humans, URI is very common in kitties, especially those that have come from a shelter, spent time in a boarding facility, or have regular contact with other cats outside of the home. “If you have a cat that suffers from upper respiratory infections, or chronic nasal inflammation or rhinitis, it’s likely that cat will be a snorer,” Dr. Andrea Jones, a veterinarian at Princeton Animal Hospital & Carnegie Cat Clinic tells PetMD. The congestion caused by URI can amplify a kitty’s snores but, in general, will self-resolve. If your kitty is showing other signs of discomfort, such as trouble breathing, lethargy, loss of appetite, or fever, your vet can prescribe antibiotics to help get her on the mend.

Snorting, coughing, or open-mouth breathing: If you have a brachycephalic kitty these, combined with excessive snoring, can be signs of brachycephalic airway syndrome. If your kitty isn’t a brachycephalic breed, these could be signs that your kitty may be having some respiratory issues caused by anything from a polyp to a foreign object such as a piece of grass–which, of course, would make snoring more pronounced. Another one to call your vet about to make sure kitty’s got all the air she needs.

Lethargy, fever, loss of appetite: These are all signs that your kitty isn’t feeling well and whether any of them make snoring worse or not, you should immediately put a call in to your vet.

Trouble swallowing, extension of neck when swallowing, retching: These can be signs that your kitty may have something stuck in there that shouldn’t be. If your kitty is not passing a hairball and displaying these behaviors you may want to consult your vet. There is a chance kitty might have swallowed something they shouldn’t–such as a foxtail or toxic plant–and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Swelling on the face, head, or neck: These can be a sign of dental issues or abscess and can make breathing difficult–not to mention be painful and even dangerous to your kitty’s health. If your cat’s face or neck is painful or swollen, check immediately with your vet.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do About Cat Snoring?

If snoring is really of concern, there are some things you can do to ensure your kitty’s respiratory system is good and healthy.

Address weight concerns: If your kitty is overweight, get her started on a diet to shed those extra pounds that may be weighing on her respiratory system.

Exercise: Exercise is good for kitties for emotional as well as physical reasons. Not only does exercise help your kitty stay svelte, but it also provides mental stimulation to keep her happy and curious. Invest in some fun toys, such as lasers or feather sticks, that will get her riled up.

Fresh air: Just like for us humans, a good dose of fresh air can do wonders. If you have a screened window, get your cat a tree or bed so that she can take advantage of fresh air while watching the world outside. Even better, if you have the space, build your kitty a catio!

Dryness: if you live in an area with very low humidity, the dry air can be as uncomfortable for kitty as it is for us. Try a humidifier in the room kitty sleeps most in. Adding some humidity to the environment might just be the ticket to give your kitty, and you, a silent night’s sleep.

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