My Pet Snores. Should I Worry?

cat sleeping flickr

When Crouton began snoring, my wife and I thought it was so adorable, we actually taped it.

But as time went by, I began to wonder. (I say “I” because let’s face facts: the entire family knows Crouton is really my cat. Am I right, buddy? Yeah, Daddy’s right.)

At first I passed it off as “growing up.” At nearly five, Crouton was well into his adult stage.

But five isn’t exactly elderly for a cat. So I admit it: I was getting worried. As I said, in the beginning, it was kind of cute. Much like the leg- and whisker-twitching of a snoozing dog dreaming of that big rabbit chase, a lightly snoring kitty is giggle-worthy. It’s the stuff of Facebook memes and Youtube clips, always bound to bring a smile. But Crouton’s snoring only grew deeper as the years went by. By the age of eight, he was jerking awake mid-snore and seemed grumpy and uncoordinated on certain days. Now I WAS worried. What to do?

An Assessment – and An Uncomfortable Conclusion

Eventually, I admitted that something really was wrong, and Crouton and I paid a little visit to the vet. The doctor told me that Crouton’s weight was impacting his breathing at night.

I was shocked. Sure, Crouton was a bit round about the middle, but heavy enough to cause snoring?

According to the vet, it doesn’t take much extra weight to impact a pet’s breathing. I was surprised, but relieved to have an answer. I began engaging Crouton in active play and changed his diet. As his waist whittled, so did his snoring. Today Crouton is ten years old and going strong – a little less apt to go chasing after the lizards that find their way into our garden, but breathing easily…and sleeping well.

Should You Worry?

Both humans and pets may occasionally snore. Snoring can be a natural reaction to the relaxation of the muscles of the throat and palate. So the occasional snuffle may not be cause for concern.

But if snoring becomes a regular thing, sounds very deep, rumbly or jerky, and/or makes your pet startle, it may be time for a visit to the vet.

Other red flags: your pet appears less coordinated during wake times than she used to be, dozes more frequently than before (and is not elderly/”senior”), appears irritable or becomes less social.

These symptoms may indicate something other than nighttime snoring and lack of oxygen/lack of rest, so either way, you’ll want to visit the pet doc for a once-over and advice.

What Causes Snoring in Pets?

Weight was Crouton’s issue, but that won’t necessarily be the case for every pet. However, overall, the risk for snoring increases in pets that:

  • are above their ideal weight
  • are over a certain age (ask your vet what constitutes “senior” age for your species and breed)
  • are allergic to something in their environment
  • experience poor/incomplete sleep overall
  • are currently ill, particularly with an upper respiratory ailment
  • are stressed

Don’t worry – and don’t wait. Have your pet looked over by a professional to rule out serious issues, and you’ll both rest easier.