As a cat owner, you know one of your cat’s favorite activities is curling up out of reach and taking a long nap. You’re watching him sleep peacefully when all of a sudden, you hear a small snort coming from his direction. Don’t worry! Much like humans and dogs, snoring is very normal for your cat to do and for the most part, is quite harmless. There are a few things you should be on the lookout for to ensure this is just kitty sleeping deeply and not a medical health issue you should address.
Why Your Cat is Snoring: Potential Causes
While cat snoring is less common than in dogs, many breeds still do it. Depending on facial features, genetics or even more basic traits such as weight, and even sleeping positions can cause snoring in cats.
Certain breeds of cats are known snorers. Any cat with flat facial features, such as Persians, has a very high likelihood of snoring. These are brachycephalic cats that have small nostrils which makes breathing difficult, leading to snoring. If you have one of these cats, snoring is to be expected. Besides small nostrils, these cats also have an elongated soft palate, which could block the windpipe and cause difficulty breathing as well. While this noisy sleeping may bother you, it is harmless to your cat.
Besides breed-specific problems, other causes could be more related to how your cat sleeps. If your cat snoozes in a very odd position, this could cause snoring. If your cat is twisted into a different sleeping position, the angle of his head or neck could be causing the issue.
If your cat has had one too many meals this week, it may be causing some issues besides moving slowly. Overweight cats are much more likely to snore. Since your cat is overweight, it puts more pressure on the nasal passage and causes them to snore due to restricted windpipes. Although feline obesity-caused snoring is not an immediate concern, the long-term effects of your cat being overweight can be serious. Some health concerns directly caused by obesity such as high blood pressure, hepatic lipidosis and feline heart disease. Speak to your veterinarian about how you can reduce your cat’s risk of obesity and find a food program to help your cat lose weight if necessary.
Abnormal Causes of Snoring in Cats
If your cat is exhibiting any of these abnormal symptoms while snoring, it is highly advised to take him in to be checked out by a medical professional.
- The sound of the snore changes causing it to be more of a snort or cat cough. This can be an indication of a serious respiratory issue which could be changing your cat’s snoring patterns.
- If your cat is showing signs of labored breathing such as sitting with an extended neck and breathing quickly, you should take him in to the hospital.
- If there is discharge coming from your cat’s eyes or nose accompanied with sneezing or sores on your cat’s nose, make an appointment immediately. This could be a sign of an upper respiratory infection and your cat will need antibiotics to cure this.
- If your cat demonstrates a loss of appetite or is more lethargic than usual accompanied with new snoring patterns, also see a doctor. These symptoms alone are generally signs of illness in cats so anytime your cat won’t eat or engage with you, there may be something wrong.
- A swollen area of the face accompanied by new or unusual snoring
- Signs of foreign objects in your cat’s nasal passage
- Changes in the way your cat sounds when he meows or purrs can be signs of tumors or other nasal blockage
- While snoring can be normal when asleep, if your cat Is making snoring noises when awake, this can be a sign of illness as well. These sounds can be:
- Stertor – a low-pitched snore
- Stridor – a high-pitched snore
- Panting – this is incredibly rare in cats, unlike dogs
- Any signs of labored breathing accompanied by unusual breathing sounds
These unusual breathing sounds can be the symptoms of a multitude of issues for your cat. Many cats snore when they have an upper or lower respiratory infection. This may also be caused by feline heart disease, especially if your cat is also overweight. A tumor or polyp in the nasal passage can cause snoring and while some may be a non-issue, some tumors are cancerous and cause long-term issues. In some cases, snoring can even be caused by severe dental disease. Cats have a tendency to not show signs of illness until they are incredibly sick so stay vigilant and if your cat shows any of the above signs, make an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.
Treating Your Cats Snoring When Serious
Upon arriving at the veterinarian, they will perform a series of tests on your cat to rule out a series of issues. They will take x-rays and blood work to ensure your cat does not have bacterial or fungal infections, tumors or polyps, foreign bodies in the nasal passages, inflammation, or severe trauma in the throat or lungs.
If your cat ends up having a tumor, polyp or foreign body in the throat or lungs, your veterinarian can perform surgery to remove them. In serious cases where the tumor is cancerous, your cat may have to undergo chemo and remain at the hospital for observation.
In case of infection and inflammation, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and rest, and may even keep him overnight for observation as well. This can be as simple as your cat having a cold or something more serious like bronchitis. These infections generally last 7-21 days and you will have to administer the antibiotics as instructed.
Asthma in Cats
If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, this is a chronic condition that will need to be monitored throughout your cat’s life. If left untreated or unwatched, your cat will experience asthma attacks. This is when the passages in your cat’s lungs constrict and can lead to respiratory distress and in serious cases, death. Certain breeds are more prone to feline asthma than others, so be sure to ask your veterinarian if your cat is at risk. Signs of asthma are:
- Foamy mucus
- Blue lips and Gums
- After activity, very heavy breathing
- Uninterested in activity and food
Your veterinarian can treat your cat’s asthma with a corticosteroid in order to reduce inflammation and can be administered through a shot, breathing machine or oral medication. Some cats may even be prescribed an inhaler that you can administer when your cat is experiencing an asthma attack. Keeping your cat in a cool, quiet area with good ventilation will always help your cat to avoid asthma attacks or worsening the one he is having in that moment.
Treating Harmless Snoring
In the case of harmless snoring, there are a few things you can do to reduce the amount your cat snores.
- If your cat is overweight, a healthy diet and exercise plan can greatly reduce the amount your cat snores. Generally speaking, weight loss is one of the best ways to keep your cat happy and healthy.
- In some cases, keeping a humidifier near your cat while he sleeps can reduce snoring.
- Make sure your cat is sleeping in a comfortable position. If your cat is laid out flat and not twisted around oddly, the risk of snoring is greatly reduced. This may be difficult to do since cats can be particular about how and where they sleep.
Ultimately, while annoying, if your cat is healthy and happy and occasionally snores at night, there is not much to worry about besides figuring out how you will sleep through it.
- Animal Friends. (2019). Why Does My Cat Snore? | Animal Friends. [online] Available at: https://www.animalfriends.co.uk/blog/why-does-my-cat-snore/ [Accessed 20 May 2019].
- LLC, A. (2019).