When My Cat Breathes It Sounds Like Snoring?

What causes snoring sounds in cats?

Snoring sounds in cats can be caused by a variety of issues that narrow the airways or obstruct normal breathing. Some of the most common causes include:

Narrowed airways: Structural deformities like an elongated soft palate or collapsed trachea can narrow a cat’s airways. This obstruction can cause turbulent airflow and snoring sounds as the cat struggles to breathe normally.

Obstructed breathing: Nasal polyps, sinus infections, and upper respiratory infections can all cause congestion and blockages in a cat’s nasal passages and throat. As a cat tries to breathe past these obstructions, it may produce noisy breathing sounds.

Physical deformities: Some cats are born with facial or throat deformities like cleft palate that affect their ability to breathe properly. These physical anomalies can lead to noisy breathing.

Overweight: Carrying excess weight puts pressure on a cat’s windpipe and throat tissues. This can narrow the airways and lead to snoring.

Age: As cats get older, throat muscles weaken and tissues sag. This reduces airflow and produces snoring sounds.

Is it normal for cats to snore?

Occasional minor snoring can be normal for cats. Cats can snore when sleeping deeply or in certain positions that cause their airway to narrow slightly. This is usually not a cause for concern, according to PetMD.

However, consistent loud snoring or snoring accompanied by other symptoms is considered abnormal. Loud snoring can indicate an obstruction in the airways from conditions like respiratory infections, nasal polyps, or anatomical defects. Severe snoring may also disrupt a cat’s sleep quality. If snoring persists, worsens, or causes breathing difficulties, veterinary attention is warranted, advises The Spruce Pets.

In summary, minor occasional snoring can be normal but persistent, loud snoring may signify an underlying health issue for cats. Monitoring the duration, loudness, and accompanying symptoms of snoring is important to determine if veterinary assessment is needed.

When should I be concerned about snoring?

Snoring in cats can usually be considered normal and harmless, but there are some instances when snoring may be cause for concern. Very loud snoring that can be heard from another room, snoring that occurs even when your cat is awake or excited, or snoring that is accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty breathing, lethargy, or weight loss could signal an underlying health issue (PetMD). These signs point to potentially dangerous conditions like:

Respiratory infections – Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in a cat’s nasal passages or throat can cause inflammation that leads to snoring. Severe upper respiratory infections may produce louder snoring along with nasal discharge, coughing, fever, or breathing difficulties.

Asthma – Some cats develop asthma when allergens or irritants trigger inflammation in the airways. The resulting narrowed airways cause wheezing, labored breathing, and snoring. A severe asthma attack requires emergency veterinary care.

Heart disease – Underlying heart conditions can impair blood circulation and cause fluid to build up in airways. This fluid obstruction leads to noisy breathing. Look for snoring combined with lethargy, coughing, or collapse.

Obesity – Excess weight puts pressure on a cat’s airways. Obese cats often snore loudly since excess fat narrows their breathing passages. Rapid weight gain exacerbates the problem.

If your cat’s snoring is accompanied by any abnormal symptoms, schedule a veterinary exam. Early treatment of the underlying cause can greatly improve your cat’s breathing and quality of life.

Medical Conditions Linked to Snoring

There are several medical conditions that can cause or worsen snoring in cats:


Rhinitis is inflammation inside a cat’s nose. It can be caused by allergies, viruses, bacteria, or fungus. Swelling inside the nasal passageways narrows the airways and increases air turbulence, leading to snoring sounds as the cat breathes [1].


Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinuses. It has similar causes to rhinitis. Pressure and congestion in the sinus cavities can obstruct normal airflow and lead to snoring [2].

Elongated Soft Palate

Some cats may be born with an abnormally long soft palate or extra tissue on their soft palate. This can obstruct the airway and cause turbulence and vibration of tissue while breathing, resulting in snoring [3].


Any type of mass or growth in a cat’s nasal passage, sinuses or throat region can obstruct airflow and lead to snoring. These obstructions cause air turbulence as the cat struggles to breathe past the blockage.

Upper Airway Obstructions

Foreign objects lodged in a cat’s nasal cavity or throat can partially block their airway. Things like blades of grass, small sticks or thorns can all cause airway obstructions and subsequent snoring as the cat tries to breathe past the object.

Diagnosing the cause of snoring

If your cat’s snoring is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, your vet will perform a full physical exam to try to pinpoint the cause. They will listen closely to your cat’s breathing using a stethoscope, feeling for any crackling, wheezing, or other abnormal sounds.

Your vet may recommend imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans to get a closer look at your cat’s airways and identify any obstructions or masses. These images can reveal structural problems or growths that could be contributing to snoring.

In some cases, your vet may perform an endoscopy by inserting a tiny camera into your cat’s nose or throat to visually inspect the airways. Endoscopy allows vets to identify issues like masses, polyps, collapsing trachea, or inflammation that may not show up on other tests.

With a combination of a physical exam, imaging, and possibly endoscopy, your vet will aim to make an accurate diagnosis for the root cause of your cat’s snoring.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for addressing snoring in cats. Here are some of the main approaches:

Weight loss program: If obesity or being overweight is contributing to snoring, a veterinarian-supervised weight loss program can help cats lose excess fat and relieve pressure on the airway. This may involve calorie reduction, diet changes, and increasing exercise.

Surgery for obstructions: In some cases, surgical procedures can remove obstructions in the nasal passages or soft palate which contribute to snoring. Specific surgeries depend on the location and nature of the obstruction.

Medications: Veterinarians may prescribe medications to reduce inflammation or open up nasal passages if these are contributing factors. Some common options are steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Addressing underlying conditions: Snoring can sometimes signal underlying illness such as respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, dental disease, or heart conditions. Diagnosing and properly managing any related health problems may alleviate snoring.

When to see a vet

If your cat’s snoring is a new development or has gotten louder or more frequent, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian. According to PetMD, sudden onset of snoring can be a sign of an underlying medical issue that requires treatment. Some conditions that could lead to snoring in cats include:

– Obesity – Excess weight can cause fat deposits to develop around the airways. This narrows the airways and contributes to snoring.

– Respiratory infections – Upper respiratory infections from bacteria, viruses or fungus can cause inflammation in the airways.

– Obstructed nostrils – Obstructions like polyps in the nasal cavity restrict airflow and lead to snoring.

– Tumors – Nasal cavity tumors or thyroid tumors can obstruct breathing.

– Heart disease – Heart conditions like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can manifest as breathing issues.

You should also make an appointment if your cat’s snoring is accompanied by other symptoms like breathing difficulties, lethargy, weight loss or other signs of illness. The earlier treatment can begin, the better the outcome is likely to be for respiratory issues in cats. Your vet will do a physical exam and use diagnostic tests as needed to pinpoint the cause of your cat’s snoring.

Caring for a snoring cat

If your cat is snoring frequently or loudly, there are some steps you can take at home to help care for them:

Ensure proper rest. Make sure your cat has a comfortable place to sleep and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Cats that are overtired may snore more.

Monitor breathing. Keep an eye on your cat’s breathing when they are asleep. Look for any signs of distress like labored breathing or wheezing. Contact your vet if you notice any issues.

Keep stress low. Stress and anxiety can contribute to snoring. Try to minimize stressful situations for your cat like sudden loud noises, changes in routine, or introducing new animals/people.

Avoid irritants. Reduce exposure to things that may irritate your cat’s airways like smoke, dust, and strong scents from household cleaners or candles.

Maintain healthy weight. Carrying extra weight can worsen snoring. Make sure your cat maintains a normal weight by feeding an appropriate diet and giving them regular exercise.

With some simple at-home care, you can help create a calming environment for a snoring cat. But be sure to consult your veterinarian if the snoring persists or you notice any other concerning symptoms.

Improving air quality

There are several things you can do to improve the air quality in your home to help reduce your cat’s snoring:

Invest in a high-quality air purifier designed for pet allergens. Look for ones with a HEPA filter that can capture pet dander, dust, and other irritants from the air. Some top recommendations are units from companies like Lennox and Alen.

Use a humidifier to add moisture back into dry air, which can irritate airways. Choose one that produces cool mist to prevent burns.

Avoid smoking indoors and limit use of candles, incense, or strong sprays that release particulates into the air.

Clean the litter box frequently to reduce airborne irritants like ammonia.

Vacuum regularly and wash bedding to remove sources of dust and dander.

Providing support

One way to provide support to a snoring cat is to give any prescribed medications and follow post-op instructions carefully if your cat had surgery related to snoring or breathing problems. Attend all follow-up appointments to ensure your cat is healing properly. Providing loving care throughout the recovery process helps a cat feel secure. According to thesprucepets.com, you can make your cat more comfortable by providing soft bedding and keeping their sleeping area peaceful. Give your cat affection and play with them gently if their activity is restricted during recovery. With time and care, your cat can get back to normal after treatment for snoring.

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