Cats purr when they are happy, when they are relaxed, or even when they're not feeling well, but it still seems odd that a cat would purr in its sleep. Sure, it's adorable, but is it actually something to be concerned about? We talked to two veterinarians to find out why cats purr in their sleep and what it means.
Why Does My Cat Purr in Their Sleep?
It's probably because they're dreaming! "All mammals can dream while sleeping, and cats are not an exception," Claudine Sievert, DVM, a cat and dog veterinary doctor from Kansas, and veterinary consultant at CatPet.club, told POPSUGAR, "When they reach the sleep stage we know as REM (rapid eye movement), they may have dreams, expressing that with purring."
But purring doesn't necessarily mean those dreams are good ones. "Cats purr to communicate different emotions, not only happiness or relaxation. So, a feline may purr while sleeping because she has a good or a bad dream. In the case of bad dreams, she may purr out her stress or anxiety that way," explained Dr. Sievert.
Does Purring Always Mean a Cat Is Content?
"A cat who feels safe and happy enough to sleep soundly may express this by purring during sleep. This may especially be true during a 'belly-up' position while asleep (as they are exposing their vulnerable underside while not being awake), or while sleeping on their side with the legs stretched out," Shadi Ireifej, DVM, DACVS, co-founder and chief medical officer of VetTriage, told POPSUGAR.
However, Dr. Ireifej noted that cats may also purr in their sleep if they are injured or in pain. "Just like people who need to 'sleep off' a problem or who feel tired because of illness or injury, ill or injured cats may do the same," he said.
Is That Purring or Is My Cat Actually Snoring?
"Snoring is normal for cats, especially for breeds with flatter faces, cats who are overweight, or those sleeping in some positions," said Dr. Sievert. "Chronic problems with nasal floors can lead to snoring too." Is snoring an indication of a problem? Dr. Sievert said that it's probably normal if your feline snores regularly. "However, if you notice that snoring is accompanied by discharge from the eyes and nose, it's time to visit a vet," she said, explaining that these are symptoms of upper respiratory problems.
Why Do My Cats Purr Together In Their Sleep?
If you've got more than one cat, the purring may have an even more adorable reason. Dr. Ireifej said that cats who are sleeping together, such as a mother cat and her kittens, may purr as a means of comfort and bonding. "The purring sound itself may promote healing of the body," he explained. Aww!