Cat Questions
why does my cat snore

Cat Snoring - Why Does My Cat Snore?

Written by Steph McCulloch


As a cat owner, it’s essential to understand why cats snore to determine whether it is normal behaviour or indicative of an underlying health issue. Cat snoring is often considered normal and harmless, especially if it occurs occasionally or during deep sleep. Some common reasons for cat snoring include relaxed throat muscles, sinus congestion, or sleeping position.
cat laying down sleeping with white flower on her head


cat sleeping on astroturf

Cat snoring refers to the audible sound produced by some cats during sleep. While not all cats snore, it is relatively common among feline companions.

As a cat owner, it’s essential to understand why cats snore to determine whether it is normal behaviour or indicative of an underlying health issue. Cat snoring is often considered normal and harmless, especially if it occurs occasionally or during deep sleep. Some common reasons for cat snoring include relaxed throat muscles, sinus congestion, or sleeping position.

However, it is crucial for cat owners to be vigilant and attentive to their pet's snoring patterns. Persistent and loud snoring could be a sign of potential health problems that warrant attention from a veterinarian. 

In this article, we’re going to explore feline snoring, how it happens and the factors that contribute to it so you can get clued up on all things cat.

Understanding cat snoring

cat yawning whilst laying across white windowsill

Cats and humans have something in common that might surprise you - we both snore. Just like how your partner's snoring can keep you up at night, your feline friend's snores can be quite loud and disruptive as well. It turns out that cat snoring and human snoring share some similarities, which makes for an interesting connection between our two species.

When our cats are asleep, their airways can sometimes get partially blocked, causing snoring. It's a bit like when you have a stuffy nose, and your breath makes a wheezing sound as it struggles to get through. In cats, this partial blockage is often due to relaxed throat muscles or other structures obstructing the smooth flow of air. Just like us, the snoring sounds in cats are created by the vibrations of soft tissues in their throat or nasal passages as air passes through the narrowed airway.

To understand why cats snore, we need to peek into their sleep cycles. Cats, like us, have different stages of sleep. They experience both rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. But here's the fascinating part - cats spend more time in REM sleep compared to humans. This higher percentage of REM sleep can contribute to their snoring habits.

During REM sleep, both humans and cats experience muscle relaxation. And it's this relaxation that can be a culprit behind the snoring symphony. As the muscles in the throat and airway slacken, there's a higher chance of partial airway collapse in both cats and humans. Imagine a soft palate or tongue falling back into the airway, causing vibrations as air tries to pass through - that's the sound of snoring.

As our cats age, they might experience some changes that can lead to snoring. Similar to us, weight gain can be a factor. Older cats might become less active and gain a bit of extra weight, which could result in fat deposits around their throat and airway. These additional tissues can narrow the air passage and contribute to the purring-turned-snoring situation.

Just like some older humans, ageing cats might also face a loss of muscle tone. With reduced muscle support in their throat, the likelihood of airway collapse increases, leading to those snoring sounds in the middle of the night. Dental problems are common in older cats too, and they might cause changes in jaw alignment or inflamed oral tissues, which can contribute to snoring as well.

Factors contributing to cat snoring

ginger cat napping on outdoor park bench

Obesity in cats can impact their respiratory system, especially in brachycephalic breeds like Persians, Himalayans, and Burmese. These breeds have naturally shortened nasal passages, making them more susceptible to breathing difficulties. When overweight or obese, cats develop excess fat deposits around the neck and throat, further narrowing the airway and compromising airflow. This can lead to snoring, heavy breathing, and even sleep apnea, particularly during sleep when muscle tone is reduced.

The sleeping position of an obese cat can worsen the situation. Some overweight cats prefer to sleep on their backs or with their head tilted back, which increases the pressure on the throat and nasal passages, exacerbating respiratory issues. Addressing obesity is crucial to improve their overall health and respiratory function. Weight management through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help obese cats shed excess weight, reducing fat deposits around the neck and throat, and alleviating airway compression during sleep and wakefulness.

For brachycephalic breeds, vigilant monitoring is essential. Regular veterinary check-ups can detect respiratory problems early, allowing for timely intervention. Owners should be mindful of their cat's weight and breathing patterns, especially if they belong to a brachycephalic breed.

Normal vs abnormal cat snoring

grey cat yawning sitting on cardboard box

Cat snoring can be a charming and normal part of a feline's sleep routine. Occasional and mild snoring is usually nothing to worry about, as it's often caused by relaxed muscles during sleep, resulting in gentle vibrations in their airways. These adorable purrs can make our hearts melt, and they're generally harmless. However, excessive snoring in cats might signal an underlying issue. 

If your cat starts snoring loudly and frequently, it could be a cause for concern. This intensified snoring may indicate a partial blockage or obstruction in their airway, potentially affecting their breathing during sleep.

Monitoring changes in your cat's snoring patterns is essential for their well-being. If you notice a sudden increase in the intensity or frequency of their snoring, it's important to pay attention. Look out for any additional symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, or laboured respiration. 

Changes in their behaviour or energy levels can also offer valuable insights into their health. Being vigilant about their snoring habits helps catch any potential health issues early, allowing for prompt intervention.

When cat snoring becomes persistent and is accompanied by other respiratory issues, it's crucial to seek advice from a veterinarian. This could be a sign of various underlying health problems, including obesity, upper respiratory infections, allergies, or issues with their nasal passages. Your cat's well-being is paramount, and a professional evaluation can help identify and address any health concerns to ensure they enjoy a restful and healthy sleep.

Potential health issues associated with cat snoring

ginger cat tucked up in duvet and blankets

Cats, like us, can experience respiratory infections and mucus buildup, and it's crucial to keep a watchful eye on their well-being. Respiratory infections in cats can range from mild to severe, causing symptoms like sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and even mucus buildup. When our cats are feeling under the weather, a veterinary opinion is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Allergies are the bane of both humans and cats alike! Just like some of us suffer from seasonal allergies, our funny feline companions can also be sensitive to certain triggers. Allergies in cats can lead to nasal congestion and sneezing, similar to what we experience. 

When their nasal passages become congested, it can affect their breathing, causing discomfort and even impacting their sleep patterns. Identifying the allergen and working with a veterinarian to manage the symptoms can bring relief and help our whiskered friends breathe easier.

Now, let's talk about dental health - which is not just about pearly whites but also respiratory well-being. Dental diseases can be sneaky culprits, affecting more than just the mouth. Poor dental hygiene in cats can lead to gum inflammation and infections that may spread to the nasal passages and throat. This can result in difficulty breathing, snoring, and even respiratory issues. Regular dental check-ups and proper dental care can prevent dental diseases from causing further respiratory complications.

There are other respiratory infections that can affect our feline friends, the most notable being chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is a condition characterised by inflammation of the lower airways, causing coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. This chronic condition can be managed with proper veterinary care, including medications and lifestyle adjustments, to improve breathing and provide relief to our beloved kitties.

When to consult a veterinarian

cat sleeping on arm of yellow couch

Our feline friends may not always be able to tell us when they're feeling unwell, so it's essential for us to be vigilant and spot any signs that could signal a need for veterinary attention. Some common indicators of potential health issues in cats include:

1. Lethargy, loss of appetite, and lack of energy

If your cat is unusually lethargic, lacking energy, and not showing interest in food or treats, it could be a red flag that something is amiss. Loss of appetite and decreased energy levels can be indicative of various underlying health problems, from infections to more serious conditions.

2. Respiratory problems, coughing, and panting

Keep an eye out for respiratory problems like coughing and panting. Coughing could be a sign of respiratory infections, asthma, or other issues affecting the airways.

While panting can be normal in certain situations (e.g., after play or on a hot day), excessive or unexplained panting may indicate respiratory distress and requires attention.

3. Laboured breathing and rapid breathing

Difficulty breathing, characterised by laboured breaths and a visible effort to inhale and exhale, is a critical sign that your cat needs urgent veterinary care.

Rapid breathing, especially when it persists even in a relaxed state, could be a sign of stress, pain, or respiratory problems that warrant prompt evaluation by a veterinarian.

Being attuned to these signs and promptly seeking veterinary attention can make a significant difference in diagnosing and treating potential health issues in our beloved feline companions. Regular check-ups and open communication with your veterinarian are essential to ensure your cat's health and well-being are well looked after. 

As a Waggel member, you can get exclusive 24/7 access to online vet care with Joii. All you need to do is download their app and book a consultation, it’s easy! It’s also super easy to get a quote with Waggel for top pet insurance, saving you hassle, worry and of course, money on vet bills. The quote process is simple, just enter a few details about your pet and we’ll do the rest. 


It's essential to remember that occasional snoring in cats is usually not a major concern. Much like when we have stuffy noses and snore occasionally, our pets might do the same from time to time. While occasional and mild snoring is typical and harmless, loud and persistent snoring could indicate underlying health issues, requiring veterinary attention. Being vigilant about changes in snoring patterns is crucial to detect potential problems early.

If your cat's snoring is accompanied by other respiratory issues or changes in behaviour, it's always best to consult with a veterinarian. 

Monitoring their health, including snoring patterns, and seeking veterinary care when needed can help maintain their comfort and happiness. As responsible pet owners, taking proactive actions to address potential health issues ensures that our beloved cats lead happy, healthy lives.

Part of this responsibility includes taking out a pet insurance policy for your cat. At Waggel, all of our policies are Lifetime meaning we’ll cover your pet for the rest of their life as long as you renew your policy each year. By making one monthly payment, your pet (and your wallet) are protected from accidents and illnesses. Want even more good news? We cover dental too! 

We value all of our members and that’s why we provide a membership platform. Here you can gain access to perks and rewards for yourself and your pet! Don’t forget, this also includes around-the-clock online vet care with Joii. Interested in joining us? Get your free quote today.

If you’re looking for more cat-related health information, you’re in the right place. The Waggel blog also contains guides on things such as cat sneezes and feline alopecia meaning you don’t have to trawl through pages of weird search engine results to get the answers you’re looking for.


Is it normal for cats to snore?

Snoring can indeed be a normal occurrence in cats, particularly as they age. Just like with humans, as cats grow older, their bodies go through various changes, including changes in muscle tone and tissue elasticity.

It's important to note that not all cats snore, and the likelihood of snoring can vary depending on several factors, such as breed and health conditions.

What causes cats to snore?

Cats snore due to the relaxation of muscles in their throat and airways during sleep, which can lead to partial airway blockage and create vibrations as air passes through, resulting in the characteristic snoring sounds. 

Additionally, certain factors such as breed, age, health conditions, and sleeping positions can also contribute to the likelihood and intensity of snoring in cats.

Should I be worried if my cat snores?

Occasional and mild snoring in cats is generally not a cause for concern, as it can be a normal occurrence. However, if the snoring becomes excessive, persistent, or is accompanied by other respiratory symptoms or changes in behaviour, it may be advisable to seek veterinary attention to rule out any underlying health issues.

When should I be concerned about my cat's snoring?

You should be concerned about your cat's snoring if it becomes excessive, persistent, or is accompanied by other respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, or rapid breathing. 

Additionally, any changes in your cat's behaviour, energy levels, or appetite, along with the snoring, may also warrant veterinary attention to ensure their respiratory health and overall well-being.

Can cats clear out obstructions causing snoring on their own?

Cats may be able to clear out minor obstructions causing snoring on their own, especially if it's a temporary issue. 

However, if the snoring is due to more significant obstructions, such as chronic inflammation or structural issues in the airway, cats may not be able to clear them out independently. In cases like this, the snoring may persist until the underlying cause is addressed, which could require veterinary intervention and treatment.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

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