Can Pets Have Nose Whistles?


The Cat NoseNicholas Doumani | more info (via: Wylio)
Hi Dr. Barchas,

I saw your blog post recently about cats coughing, and it got me thinking about my own cat. She is an adult female that is healthy and active, but she sometimes makes a mild wheezing sound when she’s sitting or lying in certain position.

It’s almost like a mild, wheezy snoring sound, but she’s awake. She doesn’t do it when she’s running around. She doesn’t seem to have difficulty breathing or be in any pain when she does this, and in fact she’s done it all of her life.

Could this be normal for her, or do you think there could be a problem?

Seattle, WA

It sounds like your pet may have a nose whistle. Surely you have encountered people with nose whistles — they tend to be common in libraries and among people who sit next to you during final exams. A little bit of sinus congestion, or excess adipose tissue in the throat, causes air to whistle as it moves through the upper respiratory system. It’s a lot like snoring, except it can happen when an individual is awake.

I’m guessing that your cat may be the feline equivalent of a person with a whistling nose. Increased respiratory noises are especially common in Persians and other cats with short noses, but any cat’s nose can whistle.

The key thing you have mentioned is that the noise is not linked to breathing difficulties or distress. This makes me optimistic that it’s nothing serious. However, since I haven’t met your cat I can’t be sure. Your best bet is to have a vet take a look at her. Hopefully the vet will confirm my suspicions.

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