Do Cats Start Snoring in Their Golden Years?

What is snoring?

Snoring is caused by an obstructed airway in the throat and nasal passages. As a cat breathes, air moving through the blocked passageway causes the tissues to vibrate, resulting in a snoring sound.

Snoring is more common in overweight cats, as excess fat tissue can obstruct airways. Pressure on the throat from extra weight can cause the airway to become narrowed or blocked, leading to snoring sounds.

According to PetMD, “Snoring refers to noises that occur during sleep as air passes through relaxed tissues in the throat and mouth” ( It’s caused by some sort of obstruction or blockage in the airway.

Why do cats snore?

Cats can snore for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes of feline snoring include:

Relaxed throat muscles – When cats are in deep sleep, the muscles in their throat and mouth relax. This can cause the soft tissues of the throat to vibrate as air passes through, resulting in snoring sounds.

Nasal congestion – Snoring can be a sign of nasal congestion or upper respiratory infection in cats. Excess mucus and inflammation of the nasal passages can obstruct airflow and lead to snorting or snoring noises.

Obesity – Overweight and obese cats have a higher tendency to snore. Excess fat deposits in the throat area can obstruct breathing and create vibration of throat tissues.

Age – As cats get older, the throat muscles also weaken. Older cats are more likely to snore regularly due to age-related changes in their upper airway anatomy.

Do kittens snore?

Snoring is uncommon in young, healthy kittens. According to PetMD, kittens generally do not snore unless they have an underlying medical issue affecting their respiratory system. Snoring in kittens may indicate an infection or inflammation in the airways. Conditions like feline bronchitis, pneumonia, or rhinitis could lead to noisy breathing and snoring sounds.

While snoring is not normal in kittens, they may occasionally snore when very relaxed or in deep sleep. Light snoring or purring-like sounds while a kitten is sleeping peacefully are usually not a cause for concern. However, snoring that is persistent, loud, or accompanied by other symptoms warrants veterinary attention. Kittens who snore frequently or sound congested when breathing should be checked for respiratory illness.

Overall, snoring is uncommon and abnormal in healthy kittens. Pet parents should monitor kittens closely for any snoring or congested breathing, as it may signal an underlying medical problem requiring treatment. But occasional light snoring when a kitten is in a deep sleep is generally nothing to worry about.

When does snoring start in cats?

Snoring typically starts in middle or old age in cats as their throat muscles start to lose tone. According to Petplan, as cats age, their soft palate can become more flaccid which allows tissues to vibrate more and cause snoring sounds. The natural aging process causes muscles like those in the throat to weaken over time.

Snoring may also start earlier in cats who are overweight or obese. Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on the airways which can cause partial obstructions and snoring sounds. Keeping cats at a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help reduce snoring.

Is snoring normal in senior cats?

Snoring is fairly common in older cats. As cats age, their throat muscles can relax and partially obstruct their airways during sleep, causing snoring sounds. According to PetGuard, older cats are more likely to snore than younger kittens.

Snoring on its own is usually not a cause for concern in otherwise healthy senior cats. It does not necessarily indicate a problematic medical issue. However, excessive or worsening snoring should be monitored and reported to a veterinarian, as it could suggest an underlying condition.

Some snoring is normal, but owners of senior cats who snore frequently or loudly should stay alert for other symptoms like difficulty breathing, gagging, or coughing. These signs combined with snoring may indicate a more serious health problem requiring medical attention.

With regular veterinary checkups and care, minor snoring is manageable in aging cats. But any anomalous snoring habits in senior cats deserve further investigation.

When Is Snoring Concerning?

While occasional quiet snoring is generally benign and nothing to be worried about, loud, raspy, or excessive snoring may signal an underlying problem in cats.

Snoring that is high-pitched, raspy, or disruptively loud could indicate an obstruction in the nasal passages or throat. Common causes include inflammation due to an upper respiratory infection, nasal polyps, a foreign body stuck in the nasal cavity, or a tumor in the nose, throat, or sinuses (Source).

It’s also concerning if snoring is accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, reduced appetite, weight loss, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, or coughing. This may be a sign of an underlying respiratory issue or worsening heart disease (Source).

Additionally, new onset snoring or increased snoring in a senior cat warrants veterinary attention. Older cats are prone to hyperthyroidism, which can cause snoring. Heart disease and tumors may also lead to snoring as cats age (Source).

If your cat snores while awake or the snoring persists after repositioning your sleeping cat, a vet visit is recommended. This abnormal snoring is often indicative of an obstruction or inflammatory condition requiring treatment.

Medical conditions linked to snoring

Certain medical conditions can cause or worsen snoring in cats. Upper respiratory infections, dental disease, heart disease, sinus problems, and tumors in the mouth or nose can all obstruct airflow and lead to snoring sounds.

Upper airway disorders like the feline asthma complex or upper respiratory infections can cause inflammation and narrowing of the airways. This forces the cat to breathe harder to move air through the obstructed passages, resulting in snoring noises (1).

Dental disease like periodontal disease or tooth resorption can be painful and make it difficult for the cat to properly close its mouth. Malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth can also obstruct normal airflow. Treatment of dental disease may help reduce snoring (2).

Heart disease and heart failure can cause fluid buildup in the lungs or airways that obstructs breathing and leads to snoring sounds. Managing the underlying heart condition may help (3).

Sinus problems caused by infection, polyps, or inflammation can obstruct nasal passages and force the cat to mouth breathe. This turbulent airflow can cause snoring. Treatment with antibiotics, steroids, or surgery may be required (4).

Rarely, tumors in the nose, mouth, throat or airways can mechanically obstruct airflow and cause noisy breathing. Surgical removal may be required if a tumor is present (5).

Overall, any condition that obstructs normal airflow can potentially lead to snoring in cats. Diagnostic tests like x-rays, an echocardiogram, or endoscopy may be needed for a veterinarian to identify the underlying cause.



Diagnosing snoring issues

If your cat’s snoring seems abnormal or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam and take the cat’s medical history. They will listen closely to your cat’s breathing and may feel their throat for obstructions.

If the vet suspects an underlying infection, they may run lab tests like a complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis or cultures to check for bacteria. Imaging tests like x-rays or an ultrasound of the nose and throat area may be done in some cases to get a closer look at the structures and check for masses, foreign objects, or other issues.

As outlined by PetMD, the vet will determine if the snoring is caused by benign issues like sinus congestion, or more serious conditions like tumors, collapsing trachea, or fluid buildup in or around the airways. Proper diagnosis is key before determining treatment options.

Treating Cat Snoring

The treatment for a cat’s snoring will depend on the underlying cause. If a medical issue like nasal congestion or respiratory infection is causing the snoring, the vet will prescribe appropriate medication to address the condition (source). In cases of obesity leading to snoring, the vet will recommend a structured weight loss plan with portion control and diet changes. Medications may sometimes be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the airways.

If there is severe obstruction in the airways from abnormalities like elongated soft palate, surgery may be required to remove or correct the problematic tissue. This allows normal airflow and stops the vibration that causes snoring. The vet will determine if surgical intervention is necessary through diagnostic tests. With proper treatment for the underlying cause, snoring can often be reduced or resolved (source).

When to see the vet

While snoring may be normal at times for cats, you will want to get your cat evaluated by a vet if their snoring worsens or causes excessive disruption to their sleep or breathing.

Signs that your cat’s snoring may indicate an underlying health issue include:

  • Snoring that becomes louder or more frequent
  • Disrupted breathing or gasping sounds while awake
  • Lethargy, appetite issues, or weight loss
  • No improvement with at-home treatments like humidifiers or dietary changes

According to Rover, loud or excessive snoring can be a sign of respiratory infections, heart disease, tumors, or other health problems. Senior cats are also more prone to age-related conditions that can cause snoring to worsen.

If your cat’s quality of life seems impacted by their snoring or you notice any additional symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian. They can perform an exam and determine if tests like x-rays or lab work are needed to diagnose the underlying cause.

With treatment from your vet for any medical conditions, as well as some lifestyle changes, it may be possible to reduce your cat’s snoring and help them sleep more soundly.

Scroll to Top