You’re sleeping soundly with your favorite feline curled up at your side, but a sudden, a snore can seriously ruin the moment.
Snoring cats aren’t as common as snoring dogs or people, and it’s natural to be slightly worried—as well as sleep-deprived. In most cases, however, cat snoring is nothing to worry about. There is a chance it’s medical related, but your cat’s snores could also be part of a simpler problem.
Here are a few common reasons why cats snore and how you can help quiet their breathing to earn yourself a good night’s rest.
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It’s in the Genes
Certain cat breeds are especially prone to snoring because of the shape of their face and mouth. They’re called brachycephalic breeds, but they’re best known for being “flat-faced cats.” Persian and Himalayan cats are examples. These cats have characteristically smooshed-looking faces, shortened nose bones, and narrow nasal passageways. They also have larger soft palates at the back of their mouth that can further restrict airflow. All of these physical features combine to make it difficult for air to make it past the nose and mouth.
The Fix: If your cat’s facial features are seriously restricting their breathing, your vet might recommend surgery to widen their nasal openings. Surgery comes with risks, however, and it isn’t always worth it. If surgery is not an option, there’s no guaranteed way to stop a flat-faced cat from snoring. Make sure there are no other contributing factors like weight or allergies before buying your first pair of ear plugs.
Extra Pounds Weighing Them Down
Overweight cats have a high tendency to snore. This same rule applies to people, and it has to do with neck fat. Extra cushion around the neck narrows the airway and makes it harder to breathe. When the cat is asleep, that extra strain on their respiratory system results in snoring.
The Fix: The best way to help your overweight cat breath easier is to help them lose the extra pounds. Encourage them to move around and exercise on a regular basis. Invest in toys that require movement, and engage them in one-on-one playtime to keep them interested. You can even try harnessing your cat with a leash and taking them on walks. You’ll also need to adjust their diet to promote better nutrition — consult with your vet.
Awkward Sleeping Positions
Laying with their head tilted at an odd angle or with their neck turned in a specific direction can also restrict airflow. If your cat seems to be sleeping normally but suddenly lets out a snore after they change positions, pay attention to how they moved.
The Fix: Your cat might not appreciate you disturbing their sleep, but carefully and gently adjust their position. Move their head so their neck is straight and not strained. Monitoring them and paying attention to their favorite sleeping positions can help you determine which sleeping positions lead to snoring. You can also invest in a larger cat bed to make sure they’re not awkwardly cramming themselves into a tiny area that requires them to tilt their head while asleep.
A slight case of the sniffles caused by allergies can clog nasal passageways with mucus and lead to snoring. Allergy related throat inflammation is also a common cause of snoring. Pet Health Network says,
“Because there is such a wide variety of allergens, cat allergies are generally divided into three main categories: flea allergy, environmental allergies (atopic Dermatitis), and food allergy.”
Signs of allergies include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, eye discharge, and snoring.
The Fix: The best way to determine what kind of allergy your cat is suffering from is to visit the vet. Describe their diet and habits in full detail. You might need to experiment with different types of food to narrow down possibilities. If you can pinpoint the allergen, you can stop the snoring by removing it from the cat’s life. Keeping their bedding and the carpet clean will also limit their exposure to common allergens like pollen and dust.
Obstruction in the Nasal Passages
Anything blocking the movement of air through the nasal passages can cause snoring–and that includes an inhaled blade of grass or piece of kitty litter. There could also be tumors or polyps growing in their nose. There’s potential for tumors to be cancerous, but polyps are benign. They grow from mucus membranes and cause sneezing, difficulty breathing, and nasal discharge.
The Fix: Even if it’s only a blade of grass, never try to remove an obstruction from your cat’s nose on your own. Visit the vet and have them do the procedure with professional equipment and techniques. For tumors, you’ll need your vet to determine if it’s cancerous or not. Benign tumors and polyps can usually be removed with a simple procedure.
Snoring is often a symptom of an upper respiratory infection or chronic nasal inflammation. If that’s the case, the snoring will also be accompanied by other signs of illness. These could include regular coughing, sneezing, panting, lethargy, and lack of appetite.
The Fix: Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms of illness. In this case, the snoring is no longer your main concern. Your vet might recommend antibiotics or another treatment depending on the diagnosis. If you address the issue of your cat’s health, the snoring should stop when they get better.