Do Cats Start Snoring as They Age? The Truth About Feline Snores

Do Cats Snore?

Snoring in cats occurs when air passing through the throat and nose causes soft tissues to vibrate and make noise. It happens when a cat is breathing while sleeping. The sound of snoring can range from soft and intermittent to quite loud and frequent.

According to PetMD, some cats are more predisposed to snoring than others (1). Factors that can lead to snoring in cats include:

  • Sleeping in a position that compresses the throat, like on their back
  • Being overweight, which can narrow airways
  • Having a respiratory infection that causes nasal congestion
  • Allergies or asthma leading to inflammation in airways
  • Anatomical abnormalities like an elongated soft palate

So while any cat can snore occasionally, those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to snore frequently and loudly.


Causes of Snoring in Cats

Snoring in cats can be caused by various health conditions that narrow the airways or block normal breathing. Some of the most common causes of feline snoring include:

Narrowed Airways: Inflammation, allergies, infections, or structural abnormalities in the nose, throat, or airways can restrict airflow and lead to noisy breathing. Nasal polyps or obstructive masses are examples of conditions that narrow the nasal passages and cause snoring or wheezing in cats.

Obesity: Excess weight puts pressure on a cat’s airways, especially when lying down, contributing to snoring. Obese cats have excess fatty tissue around the throat and neck that can constrict breathing.

Age: As cats get older, the muscles in their throat can weaken. Older cats also tend to put on extra weight. These age-related changes make senior cats more prone to snoring.

Health Conditions: Underlying illnesses like heart or kidney disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and asthma can all trigger snoring in cats. These conditions impair normal breathing functions.

In some cases, snoring may be caused by a temporary blockage like nasal congestion from a respiratory infection, an inhaled foreign object, or swelling from an injury or insect sting. But chronic long-term snoring usually signals an ongoing issue that needs veterinary attention.

How Snoring Changes as Cats Age

As cats get older, changes occur in their bodies that can lead to increased snoring. One major factor is the natural loosening of muscles and tissues in the throat and airways that occurs with age (1). The soft palate in particular can become more flaccid and prone to vibrating and partially obstructing air flow (2). This causes turbulence and snoring sounds when breathing.

Additionally, older cats are more likely to be overweight or develop chronic health conditions like heart disease that can contribute to snoring (3). Extra fat deposits in the neck and throat put more pressure on airways. Medical conditions like heart disease reduce oxygen levels, forcing cats to breathe harder when asleep and snore more loudly.

All of these age-related changes make snoring much more common in geriatric cats compared to younger cats. Owners may notice an elderly cat starting to snore or an existing snore becoming louder and more frequent as their pet reaches later life stages.


Diagnosing the Cause of Snoring

If your older cat has started snoring, it’s important to take them to the vet for a full checkup. The vet will do a physical exam and ask about any other symptoms you’ve noticed. They will listen closely to your cat’s breathing and may palpate their neck and throat to feel for abnormalities.

Tests the vet may recommend include:

  • Bloodwork to check for underlying conditions like thyroid disease or anemia
  • X-rays of the chest and neck to look for tumors or other obstructions
  • Endoscopy to visually inspect the throat and airways
  • Culture of the nose/throat to test for bacterial or fungal infections

Based on the exam and test results, the vet can diagnose potential causes of snoring like inflammation, tumors, hypothyroidism, or fungal infections. With an accurate diagnosis, they can provide treatment recommendations to address the root cause and help your older cat breathe easier.

For more information, see this veterinary source:

Treating Snoring in Older Cats

Managing snoring in older cats often starts with identifying and treating any underlying medical conditions. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, older cats may develop diseases like hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, arthritis, and heart disease that can contribute to snoring [1]. Working with your vet to properly diagnose and manage these chronic illnesses through medications or other treatments can help reduce snoring.

If an older cat is overweight, developing a weight loss program with your vet is key. Gradual weight reduction through an improved diet and exercise can help overweight cats lose excess fat in the throat and airways that contributes to snoring. According to, obesity is one of the most common causes of snoring in cats, so maintaining a healthy weight is critical [2].

In some cases, an anatomical obstruction like polyps in the nasal cavity or a deviated septum may cause snoring. Surgery can be an option to remove obstructions and improve breathing if recommended by your veterinarian after a thorough exam of your cat’s nasal passages and throat [3].

While snoring in older cats can be caused by serious medical conditions, working with your vet on treatment through weight loss programs, illness management, or surgery when needed can help reduce disruptive snoring and improve your cat’s quality of life.

Making Lifestyle Changes

There are some simple lifestyle changes you can make at home to help reduce your cat’s snoring, especially as they get older. One of the most important is encouraging more activity and playtime. As cats age and become less active, they are more prone to weight gain. Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on the airways, increasing snoring. Get your aging cat moving with interactive play sessions using wand toys, laser pointers, or anything else that inspires them to run and pounce. Try to play with your cat for at least 10-15 minutes twice a day. You can also place food puzzles and toys around the house so your cat has to hunt and work for their food. This mimics their natural hunting behavior and keeps them stimulated and active between play sessions.

It’s also helpful to transition your older cat to a wet food diet, if possible, to increase their water intake. Dehydration causes mucus to build up in the airways, exacerbating snoring. Wet food has much higher moisture content than dry kibble. You can also try placing water bowls in multiple locations around the house and using fountain waterers to encourage drinking. Getting enough fluids will help thin out mucus secretions and open up the airways.

With some simple diet and lifestyle adjustments tailored to your aging cat’s needs, you can help reduce snoring and give your furry friend better quality sleep.

Improving the Sleep Environment

Making some simple adjustments to your cat’s sleeping area can help reduce nighttime activity and restlessness. According to the Animal Humane Society, providing a comfortable sleeping space away from noise and distractions is key1. Here are some tips for creating a peaceful sleep environment for your cat:

Choose bedding made from breathable fabrics like cotton or flannel. Avoid plastics which can cause sweating. The RSPCA recommends placing soft, washable beds around the house so your cat has plenty of inviting sleeping spots2.

Consider using a humidifier in your cat’s sleeping area, especially during dry winter months. Proper humidity levels between 30-50% can help your cat breathe easier at night.

Limit exposure to potential irritants by keeping litter boxes, food bowls, and noisy appliances away from your cat’s bed. Reduce lights and sounds that could disturb sleep. Cats prefer sleeping in quiet, calm environments.

Making these simple changes to create a comfortable oasis for your cat to sleep undisturbed can help minimize restless nights. Be sure to observe your cat’s preferences and make adjustments to suit their needs.

When to See the Vet

While occasional snoring is usually normal in cats, there are some circumstances when snoring can indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention. You should take your cat to the vet if the snoring is accompanied by other concerning symptoms or is interfering with your cat’s sleep and quality of life.

Snoring accompanied by other symptoms like coughing, gagging, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or blue-tinged gums can signify potentially serious respiratory issues like asthma, upper airway obstruction, pneumonia, or heart failure. These require prompt veterinary diagnosis and treatment.

You should also see your vet if your cat’s snoring is excessive, loud, or prevents your cat from getting adequate rest. Persistent and disruptive snoring can take a toll on your cat’s health over time. The vet can examine your cat to determine if the snoring is caused by benign factors like nasal congestion, or more serious issues like tumors or polyps in the airways. They may recommend imaging tests or sedatives to allow for a detailed look at your cat’s airways.

Additionally, a new onset of snoring in an older cat should be evaluated to rule out age-related conditions like laryngeal paralysis or cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Your vet can assess your aging cat’s health status and recommend any necessary treatment to manage disease and keep your cat comfortable.

Don’t hesitate to call your vet if your cat’s snoring concerns you. They can advise you on the urgency of an appointment and help discern whether the snoring may be indicative of a health problem requiring attention. With prompt veterinary care as needed, you can help your feline friend breathe easy and sleep soundly. For more information, see this helpful veterinary guide on snoring in cats:

Coping Tips for Human Companions

Snoring cats can disrupt their human’s sleep. Here are some tips to help companions cope with a snoring cat:

Use white noise or earplugs to drown out the snoring. White noise machines or apps create ambient sounds like rainfall that can mask snoring noises. Earplugs block noise, allowing you to sleep through the snores.

Close bedroom doors at night to reduce the snoring sounds. Shutting the bedroom door can help muffle the snores if your cat sleeps in another room.

Provide a separate sleeping space for your cat. Set up a comfy cat bed in another room and encourage your pet to sleep there at night so the snores don’t reach your bedroom.

Give Your Cat a Peaceful Golden Years

As cats get older, their health needs change. While snoring may become more common, there are steps you can take to help your senior cat live comfortably. Regular veterinary checkups are crucial to monitor your cat’s health and catch any issues early. Your vet can suggest treatments for snoring or other age-related conditions. At home, focus on keeping your cat’s environment low-stress, providing easy access to food, water and litter. Make sure your cat has soft beds in quiet spots for uninterrupted naps. Gentle play, grooming and affection will lift their spirits. While aging brings challenges, simple adjustments help senior cats thrive in their golden years. With some preparation and attentive care, you can give your feline companion a peaceful, purr-filled retirement.


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