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Is It Normal For Cats To Purr While Sleeping?

The sound of a purring cat is so soothing to humans that it is an option in several white noise apps and equipment. That may put you to sleep, but should you be concerned if your cat is simultaneously purring and sleeping?

Although it is common for cats to purr while resting, the reason why they are doing so may be cause for concern.

"Is it Normal For Cats To Purr While Sleeping?" by BestForPets (bestforpets.org) discusses how and why cats purr while resting. We'll also explore whether purring is a cause for concern while your cat is asleep or awake.

How and Why Cats Purr

The mechanism by which cats purr remains somewhat of a mystery. Experts believe that air flow via the cat’s vocal cords causes the sound. Yet, it is unknown exactly what in the cat’s brain causes the behavior.

Cats purr not only when they are content, but also when they are anxious or disturbed. Purring might sometimes suggest a cat’s illness or discomfort.

According to a study published in the journal Current Biology, researchers found that the purring sound cats make while sleeping includes an embedded cry that may be a form of communication. The study, conducted by McComb et al. (2009), observed that the cry within the purr is at a frequency that can induce feelings of comfort and healing in both cats and humans. This suggests that purring may have evolved as a way for cats to communicate with their owners while sleeping and help promote healing and relaxation.

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that purring may also have therapeutic effects on bones and soft tissue healing, as the vibrations produced by purring can help stimulate bone growth and repair (Lyon et al., 2016).

According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the International Society of Feline Medicine (2013), cats have environmental needs that should be met to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. Providing adequate space, hiding places, and appropriate scratching surfaces can help reduce stress and prevent behavioral problems such as excessive purring.

Why Cats Purr When They Sleep

It is believed that purring serves multiple objectives, whether the cat is awake or asleep. It is basically a method for communicating feelings. In many instances, the purring of a cat is a sign of happiness and joy, as most owners believe.

Like to humans, cats can dream, and purring during sleep may signal that your cat is enjoying a pleasant dream. Cats may purr while sleeping if they are feeling peaceful and content, or as a way to bond with household members.

Terrible dreams can also cause your cat to purr in its sleep; purring is a method of relaxation and stress relief. Another intriguing explanation for why cats purr during sleep is that this sound may have healing properties.

According to study, the frequency at which cats purr is believed to enhance bone and tissue repair. In human medicine, sound treatment is utilized for several goals.

Cats may purr while resting in order to recover themselves physiologically. Our cats spend the majority of the day napping, so why not utilize that time for tissue repair?

In a study published in Animals, Bradshaw (2016) discusses the evolutionary basis for assessing animal welfare standards, using the example of domestic cats. This research helps shed light on why cats might purr when they sleep and what it might mean for their health and well-being.

When to Worry About Your Cat Purring While Sleeping

As previously stated, cats may purr when they are ill or in pain, including when they are sleeping. If this is the case, you may likely see other alarming symptoms, such as:

  • Loss of hunger
  • Limping
  • Reluctance to leap on furniture
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

Purring alone is not cause for concern, but if it occurs regularly and is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s time to take your cat to the veterinarian for an examination.

Some cats, particularly those with flat faces or who are overweight, may snore when sleeping, which sounds quite similar to purring. Normal snoring may suggest a problem if accompanied by other symptoms, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Eye or nasal discharge

Additionally, Stelow (2019) suggests that excessive purring may be a sign of anxiety or pain and recommends seeking veterinary advice if this behavior persists. Heidenberger (1997) also highlights the importance of providing indoor cats with an enriched environment to promote their welfare.


As we’ve discovered in “Is it Normal For Cats To Purr While Sleeping?” by BestForPets (bestforpets.org), it’s common for sleeping cats to purr, and they often do so for the same reasons as awake cats. Purring can signify both positive and negative feelings, as well as physical discomfort.

Because cats are so adept at concealing pain and illness, we must pay close attention to even the most subtle indications that something is wrong.

Purring during sleep may be one of these indicators, although it is typically not the sole one. In many circumstances, your cat purrs while sleeping because it is content and contented. Appreciate the purr since it may also be calming you down.

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Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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