Can Cats Snore While Awake? The Surprising Truth About Your Feline’s Noisy Naps

What is snoring?

Snoring is a noise made by vibration of the upper airway as airflow passes through while breathing during sleep. The vibration occurs as the tissues in the nose, mouth, and throat relax and narrow the airway during sleep, causing a “fluttering” sound as air tries to pass through (1).

Snoring is more common during sleep, but it can occasionally occur while awake in some individuals. Snoring while awake happens when the muscles in the roof of the mouth (soft palate), throat and tongue relax and partially block the airway (2). This obstruction causes air turbulence and vibration of the soft tissues as the airflow is restricted, creating a snoring noise.

Snoring generally occurs only during inhalation while breathing. It results from obstructed air movement while the soft tissues in the airway narrow or collapse into the path of airflow.




Do cats snore?

Yes, cats can snore just like humans do. Snoring in cats most often occurs when they are in deep sleep. The sound of snoring comes from soft tissue in the throat and nasal passages vibrating as air moves in and out while breathing. Many owners first notice their cats snoring as they get older. Snoring that happens occasionally is usually normal, especially if the cat is overweight or has some nasal congestion. However, frequent or loud snoring can potentially be a sign of an underlying health issue like sleep apnea or asthma. Cats that start snoring suddenly when they did not before should be checked by a vet to identify the cause.

According to PetMD, snoring is less common in cats compared to dogs. But snoring during sleep is considered normal cat behavior, as long as it is not excessive or accompanied by other symptoms. Some snoring while sleeping is nothing to worry about. Butpersistent, loud snoring or snoring while awake could signal an issue requiring veterinary attention.

Reasons Cats Snore

There are several reasons why cats may snore. Some of the most common include:

Allergies – Allergies can cause nasal congestion and inflammation in a cat’s nasal passages and throat. This inflammation narrows the airways, increasing air turbulence and causing snoring sounds. Common allergens for cats include pollen, mold, dust mites, and certain proteins in food.[1]

Upper respiratory infections – Infections in a cat’s upper respiratory tract, such as feline herpesvirus or calicivirus, can cause congestion, swelling, and excess mucus production. The narrowed airways generate snoring sounds as the cat breathes.[2]

Anatomical abnormalities – Structural issues like narrow nostrils, elongated soft palates, or tracheal deformities can obstruct air flow and lead to snoring. Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds like Persians are prone to these abnormalities.[3]

In some cases, snoring may result from a combination of these factors. Determining the underlying cause can help vets recommend appropriate treatment options.


When cats are most likely to snore

Snoring in cats is most common when they are sleeping. During deep, restful sleep, cats are very relaxed, which can cause the soft tissues in their throat to vibrate and make snoring noises as air passes through. This is especially true as cats get older and the muscles in their throat become more relaxed.

Snoring can also occur when cats are very relaxed while awake. For example, an elderly cat purring contentedly in your lap may begin to snore lightly. This is caused by the throat muscles being in a relaxed state during periods of contentment. As long as the snoring is not excessive or accompanied by breathing difficulty, it is usually normal.

However, snoring while awake can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue making it difficult for the cat to breathe properly. Conditions like respiratory infections, nasal polyps, or asthma can obstruct airflow and cause snoring even when awake. If snoring persists while your cat is alert and active, it warrants a veterinary exam to diagnose the cause and rule out potential health problems.

According to PetMD, snoring while awake is more concerning than occasional snoring during sleep, and may indicate breathing difficulty or health issues that require treatment (source). Pet owners should monitor changes in snoring carefully and consult a vet if it seems abnormal.

Signs a cat is snoring while awake

There are several signs that indicate a cat may be snoring or making snoring-like noises while awake. According to the Pet Plan blog Why do cats snore – and is snoring in cats normal?, audible raspy breathing is one of the main symptoms. The raspy breathing is caused by air passing through narrowed airways or blockages in the nasal passages or throat.

Other signs include:

  • Trouble breathing – labored, heavy, or loud breathing
  • Open-mouth breathing – the cat keeps its mouth open to improve air intake
  • Noises while breathing in and out – wheezing, snorting, or sniffing sounds

According to the Pet Lovers Centre blog post Cat Snoring: Reasons, Symptoms and Treatment Options, if a cat makes snoring-like noises while awake, it’s likely due to obstructed airways rather than actual snoring. The raspy breathing and other symptoms point to an underlying issue that needs veterinary attention.

Causes of Snoring While Awake

There are several potential medical causes of a cat snoring or making noises while awake:

Allergies – Allergies can cause nasal congestion, inflammation, and airway restriction that leads to noisy breathing and snoring sounds. Cats can develop allergies to things like pollen, dust, mold, certain foods, and more [1].

Upper respiratory infection – Infections in the upper respiratory tract, like the common cold, can cause congestion, secretions, and inflammation that obstruct normal breathing. The noises may sound like snoring [2].

Heart disease – Some types of heart disease can cause fluid buildup in or around the lungs. This can cause noisy, wheezy, snore-like breathing sounds [3].

Tumors pressing on airway – Nasal cavity tumors, thyroid tumors, and other masses putting pressure on the airways can lead to noisy obstructed breathing [3].

Risks of snoring while awake

Snoring while awake often indicates an obstructed airway in cats. This obstruction can occur due to inflammation, foreign objects, tumors, or other anomalies in the nasal passages, throat, or windpipe. When airflow is obstructed, the cat has to forcefully move air through the narrowed passages, creating a snoring sound.

Obstructed breathing can lead to hypoxia, which is a shortage of oxygen reaching the tissues. If severe, hypoxia can cause organ damage, collapse, or even death. The heart and lungs have to strain harder to move oxygen when breathing is obstructed, placing extra pressure on these vital organs.

Other risks associated with obstructed breathing while awake include overheating, fatigue, anxiety or distress from air hunger, and respiratory failure if the obstruction worsens. Prompt veterinary attention is crucial whenever snoring or noisy breathing occurs in an awake cat to identify and treat the underlying cause before it escalates.

Some potential causes of airway obstruction leading to snoring while awake include:

  • Nasal polyps or tumors
  • Foreign object lodged in nasal cavity or throat
  • Respiratory infections causing inflammation and mucus buildup
  • Anatomical defects like cleft palate
  • Dental disease putting pressure on throat tissues
  • Allergic reaction causing swollen nasal/throat tissue

When to see the vet

If your cat’s snoring is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s important to have them seen by a veterinarian. According to PetMD, some signs that warrant a vet visit include:

  • Snoring persists for days on end
  • Trouble breathing or noisy breathing while awake
  • Lethargy or reduced activity
  • Weight loss

As Rover notes, cats who suddenly start snoring when they did not previously should also be evaluated by a vet. Chronic snoring or wheezing can be a sign of more serious upper airway obstruction or other health issues. Getting an accurate diagnosis is key to properly treating the root cause of snoring.

Diagnosing the Cause

If a cat’s snoring persists or seems abnormal, a veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. The tests may include:

Physical exam – The vet will listen to the cat’s breathing and feel their throat for abnormalities. They’ll check for nasal discharge, inflammation, foreign objects lodged in the nasal passages, or masses in the mouth/throat that could be obstructing breathing.

Imaging tests – X-rays or ultrasound can reveal masses, foreign objects, or anatomical abnormalities causing obstruction. CT or MRI scans may also be used for a more detailed look at the nasal cavity, throat, and airways (

Endoscopy – A tiny camera inserted into the throat allows vets to visually inspect for blockages, inflammation, ulcers or masses.

Bloodwork – Blood tests can detect infections, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders and other conditions that may be contributing to snoring.

Treating snoring in cats

If your cat’s snoring is disrupting their sleep or yours, there are some treatment options to consider. The main goal is to treat any underlying condition causing the snoring.

If there is an anatomical obstruction in the nasal passages or throat that is causing the snoring, surgery may be recommended. Procedures like soft palate resection can remove excess tissue and widen airways. According to the experts at The Spruce Pets, these surgeries often successfully treat snoring.

There are also some lifestyle changes and home remedies that may help reduce snoring:

  • Using a humidifier near your cat’s sleeping area can help keep nasal passages moist and clear.
  • Saline nasal drops can help relieve nasal congestion.
  • Elevating your cat’s head while sleeping may improve air flow.
  • Helping your cat lose weight if they are overweight.

Be sure to discuss any snoring with your veterinarian, as they can check for underlying illness and provide guidance on the best treatment options for your cat’s specific situation.

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