cat purring while sleeping

A cat purring while sleeping is common in a cat owner’s household.

But what’s the reason behind their purring?

I get to the bottom of it below and answer some other questions. 

You’ll soon know everything about what a purring, sleeping kitty means. 

Why Does My Cat Purr in Their Sleep?

Sadly, there isn’t a single answer to why a cat purrs while they sleep. But it usually boils down to one of three reasons behind this adorable action from your feline friend. 

Reason 1. Your Cat Feels Relaxed and Comfortable

cute black cat sleeping deeply in a blanket

In most cases, a cat purring while sleeping is a sign of being comfortable and relaxed. It’s a signal that they’re content, as cats “purr whenever they’re happy” [1]

After all, it takes a certain level of relaxation to nap. It’s doubtful that a cat would be feeling hurt or stressed while catching some z’s. 

It’s also possible that your cat isn’t resting their eyes at all. My cat often closes his eyes and purrs while laying on my lap without ever going to sleep. 

CHECK THIS: Why Does My Cat Purr a Lot

Reason 2. Your Cat is Dreaming

kitten covered by a red blanket

Another possible reason behind the purring is what could happen during the nap. In other words, cats will purr based on what’s happening in their dreams. 

Most cat owners don’t know their cats, but they do. All mammals are known for dreaming during sleep, so we share this experience with many animals. 

But there’s no way of telling what’s happening inside a cat’s dream. Therefore, it’s possible that their purring is happening because of a good or bad dream. 

I’d imagine a dream about the vet or a loud barking dog would cause anxious purring. As a result, this reason becomes a complicated but exciting cause of a cat’s sleeping purrs. 

Reason 3. Bonding with Each Other

a tiger cat sleeping on top of a lady in a white shirt

A pet owner with more than one cat will often come across an unusual sight once in a while. This circumstance is two cats purring together as they sleep. 

I find it to be one of the most adorable things to experience as a cat owner. But it’s also a sign of two cats bonding with each other. 

This occurrence goes all the back to when a kitten first purrs when they’re only a few weeks old. At this young age, their purring is a way to signal their mothers about their locations. 

The mother cats will purr back to let those kittens know they’re around and caring for them. As a result, it creates a sufficient bond between the adult cat and her kittens.

If you have an adult cat with a litter of kittens, this bonding behavior will likely occur. But it’s not uncommon with older cats as they use purring as a way of forming friendships. 

So anyone who has cats purring together doesn’t need to worry. Your cats are simply becoming best friends as you’ve always wanted!

When Else Do Cats Purr?

Of course, sleeping isn’t the only time cats will start purring. Cats will use purring to communicate several other things to a pet owner. 

1. They Want Something or Are Hungry

One of the more common reasons cats purring is your cat wanting food. They will usually combine this purr with an unpleasant meow or cry. 

It’s almost unmistakable to a cat owner and quite abrupt. Basically, your cat leaves little doubt when they’re hungry and willing to let you know about it. 

2. Heat

A cat going through heat cycles will make different sounds, including purring. Female cats often use purring to call a nearby mate for breeding. 

Owners can expect a heat cycle to last “several days with the average length being six days.”[2] Unfortunately, these cycles can be very annoying for owners.

I was once stuck inside a small apartment with a cat in heat. It was a nightmare and almost impossible to get any sleep.

3. Relief and Healing

Many cats purr to soothe themselves when they’re in pain or hurt. It takes energy to purr, but the relief it provides is more than worth it for them. 

Some experts suggest that purring can help cats get better quicker. A low frequency of purrs will cause a series of vibrations within their bodies that can [3]:

  • Lessen swelling and pain
  • Heal wounds and bones
  • Repair tendons
  • Build muscle
  • Ease breathing

ALSO READ: Why Doesn’t My Cat Purr Anymore?

Is That Purring or Is My Cat Actually Snoring? 

cat purring while sleeping on the bed

If you’re unsure about whether your cat’s purring, snoring is another possibility. It’s a common condition in cats and isn’t usually a sign of anything worrisome. 

Snoring is another sign of a cat feeling relaxed and comfortable during their sleep. So there’s no need to run over to the vet unless there are other worrying signs. 

It’s also worth noting that cats with short muzzles and overweight felines are more prone to snoring. Certain sleeping positions are more likely to cause snoring, as well. 

If your furry friend snores regularly, I wouldn’t worry about it. Snoring becomes an issue if there’s a sudden change or accompanied by discharges from the eyes or nose. 

In these situations, I recommend taking them to the vet. These symptoms may indicate certain medical conditions, specifically upper respiratory infections [4].

Another worrisome sign is if a snoring cat has difficulty breathing when awake. Again, it’s not a situation you want to mess around with and require immediate vet attention.

If you simply want to stop a regularly snoring cat, I don’t blame you as they can get loud. A few home remedies are worth trying, such as using a humidifier or a healthy diet and exercise. 

Cat Purring While Sleeping FAQs

How to tell if a cat is purring in pain

A cat purring in pain will exhibit other notable signs to tell let you know. These include changes in vocalizing, facial expressions, daily habits, aggression levels, postures, and activities of daily living [5].

Why does my cat purr when I pet her

kitten cuddling with his owner

A cat purring when you pet them is usually a sign of contentment [1]. It happens because your cat trusts and loves you, so they’re providing a sign of affection and that they’re happy. Read more on the “Why Do Cats Purr When You Touch Them?” guide.

Do cats stop purring when they sleep?

Cats don’t necessarily stop or start purring when they sleep. It’ll change based on several circumstances, including the sleeping environment, your cat’s mood, and many other factors.

Conclusion

A cat purring while they’re sleeping isn’t usually a cause of alarm. In most cases, it’s their way of telling us they’re happy and feel comfortable inside our home.

But it’s important to remember that purring isn’t always a sign of happiness. You must stay vigilant for other problematic body language or symptoms to ensure your cat’s alright. 

If you have any more questions or concerns about this topic, let me know in our comment section. I’ll make sure to answer each one as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!

Resources

  • 1. The cat’s meow [Internet]. The Humane Society of the United States. Available from: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cats-meow
  • 2. Llera R. Estrous Cycles in Cats [Internet]. vca_corporate. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/estrus-cycles-in-cats
  • 3. Why do cats purr? [Internet]. Scientific American. 2006. Available from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-cats-purr/#:~:text=Cats%20purr%20during%20both%20inhalation
  • 4. Feline Respiratory Diseases [Internet]. www.crystalriveranimalhospital.com. [cited 2021 Dec 13]. Available from: https://www.crystalriveranimalhospital.com/feline-respiratory-diseases.php
  • 5. Weir M. How Do I Know if My Cat is in Pain? [Internet]. vca_corporate. Available from: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/how-do-i-know-if-my-cat-is-in-pain
black and white cat purring while sleeping deeply

Have you seen your cat purring while sleeping? Let us know in the comments below!

Ben Robers
Ben Robers

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed. Learn more about Benhere
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