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Why Does My Cat Purr When They’re Asleep?

Is there anything sweeter than seeing a cat curled up in a cozy nook, purring in its sleep? We can’t think of much that beats it. But if you’ve ever wondered why cats purr in their sleep—and if they’re really as happy as they seem—we’re here to reassure you. Cats who purr in their sleep are usually relaxed and content or dreaming. If you want to learn more about why and how cats purr—and other reasons they might purr in their sleep—keep reading!

divider-catclaw1 Purring and Relaxation

grey tabby cat sleeping on warm radiator
Image Credit: Xseon, Shutterstock

What even is purring? When cats purr, they do it continuously, whether they’re breathing in or out. That’s because purring is caused by a vibrating larynx or voice box. The muscles that make up the larynx expand and contract very quickly, creating a constant hum that varies from cat to cat. Although we don’t know all the reasons why cats purr, we know that it’s good for them. It’s also really good for us—the sound of a cat purring can induce relaxation and lower blood pressure.

Purring is an involuntary reflex that usually happens when the cat is relaxed and content. That’s true when sleeping too! Your cat likes to sleep in places where they feel safe and relaxed. This might be a cozy nook or right next to a trusted human like you. And sleeping somewhere

relaxing sometimes triggers the purring reflex, even if your cat isn’t awake and aware of their own purring.

Purring When Dreaming

Another reason for purring in sleep might be a dream. During the Rapid Eye Movement (or REM) stage of sleep, cats experience vivid dreams, just like we do. You might see your cat make small movements or see flickering eyelids that tip you off to the dream. And during a dream, your cat might start purring because of what they see! If you see purring combined with other signs of dreaming, it’s likely that your cat is enjoying a happy dream.

Other Reasons for Purring

cat purring
Image Credit: Amandad, Pixabay

Although cats usually purr for happy reasons, that’s not always true. Cats can also have paradoxical purrs during times of stress, fear, or sickness. These purrs might be a reflex meant to help your cat calm down or soothe itself. There’s also evidence that purring can actually help your cat heal from some injuries. This means that if you see your cat purring in their sleep combined with other signs of stress, everything might not be perfect. Although purring because of injury or anxiety is less common, it’s still worth knowing about.

Purring vs Snoring

Finally, if your cat’s sleep purrs sound different from their waking purrs, your cat might actually be snoring. This usually happens when your cat is sleeping deeply and is more common in cats with allergies, flat faces, or overweight cats. If your cat has always snored, it’s likely not a big deal. But if you notice that your cat has suddenly started, it might be a sign of asthma, allergies, or other respiratory issues. Look out for other signs of illness in case a vet visit is needed.

divider-catclaw1 Last Thoughts

As you can see, sleep and purring go hand in hand. There are a few reasons why your cat might purr in their sleep. Cats can purr because they are scared or injured, but that’s pretty rare. Your kitty is probably feeling happy, content, and relaxed, whether they’re dreaming or dozing. Feel free to sit back and enjoy the soft, musical sound.

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Featured Image Credit: ANURAK PONGPATIMET, Shutterstock