Is It Normal for Cats to Snore?

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Cats are strange creatures at times, as any cat owner will agree. Though being a cat owner can be challenging at times, it can also be rewarding–there is nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with your feline friend to watch a movie. In keeping with their often-odd behavioral traits, some cats develop a tendency to snore. Why some cats snore and is it something you should be concerned about?

Why Do Some Cats Snore?

Snoring is common in dogs, especially in brachycephalic or short-faced breeds. While there certainly are cats that snore, it is less common and it is usually caused by some sort of airway obstruction.

Related: Why Do Cats Sleep So Much?

In cats, the low-pitched snoring sound is known as stertor and it is the result of the soft tissue lining the nose and throat vibrating as the cat inhales or exhales. As is true for people, snoring in cats is sometimes related to the position in which the cat is sleeping, but it can also be the result of a medical problem that requires attention.

Snoring is more common in flat-faced cat breeds like the Himalayan and the Persian, though any cat with a compressed facial formation may be prone to snoring. Cats with flat faces may have narrower nostrils than usual which can restrict the intake of air – they may also have an elongated soft palate that collapses into the airway with each inhale and exhale. Obesity in cats can also increase the risk for respiratory disturbances or blockages which can contribute to snoring.

When Should You Be Concerned? 

Unless the snoring seems to be having a negative impact on your cat, you may not need to do anything about it. If, however, your cat is snoring because something is making breathing through the nose difficult and he is compensating with open-mouthed breathing, it is worth having him checked by your veterinarian.

Related: Do Cats Dream of Chasing Mice and Balls of Yarn?

Other signs that may indicate a problem include facial swelling, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, and a change in voice. These signs can be indicative of health problems like a bacterial or fungal infection, laryngeal paralysis, polyps or masses in the throat, inflammation, or a foreign body stuck in the airway.

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam and a review of his symptoms, so pay close attention to any changes your cat exhibits so you can report them. In some cases, your vet may also recommend x-rays to identify the problem. In severe cases that are particularly difficult to diagnose, your cat may need to be sedated for a closer examination. Once your vet identifies the problem he will recommend a course of treatment.

Though snoring is not automatically a cause for concern in cats, it can sometimes be a symptom for a serious health problem. It is always a good idea to pay attention to your cat’s behavior and to report any concerning changes to your veterinarian, even if they seem insignificant. It is always better to be safe than sorry.