Skip to Content

My cat’s purr sounds gurgly/hoarse

While your cat can become ill with cat-specific illnesses, cats can become ill with the same things that make you ill. Some of these illnesses include but are not limited to the following.

  • Sinus Infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Common Cold
  • Asthma
  • Laryngitis or Laryngeal Paralysis
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Nasopharyngeal Growths
  • Pharyngitis
  • Flu or Feline Influenza

Many of these illnesses mimic the symptoms you would find if you contact some of the above illnesses. Your vet may order similar treatment for your cat that your primary doctor orders for you should you become ill with these.

Even though you and your cat can take many of the same medicines, never give your cat your medicine because your medicine is compounded differently and is too big of a dose for a small cat. Never give your cat over-the-counter medication without first speaking with your vet. 

Why Does My Cat’s Purr Sound Gurgly/Hoarse? 

I remember adopting a purebred Himalayan cat from a lady who had major back surgery and could no longer care for her cat. As I lay on the floor with “King Pup,” I listened to him breathe; his breathing was noisy and did not seem normal to me.

This unusual sound sent me packing to the vet. I always believe in practicing caution and remaining on the safe side versus not playing it safe with my fur baby’s health and being sorry later.

The vet explained that cats have tiny nasal passages, and all cats can make pretty weird noises through their noses, which was purr-fectly normal. Some cat breeds have even smaller nasal passages, like the Himalayan breed.

This situation made me take note of all the different breathing sounds my four cats made that was considered normal for them. It also helped me identify possible health issues as these noises changed. It alerted me to the fact that perhaps there was an illness brewing.

I am sure you would know you were ill if you suddenly developed a gurgly/hoarse sound in your throat. You may notice this more when you are breathing.

You may have other symptoms, such as a sore throat, a fever, or shortness of breath. These other possible symptoms are harder to pick up in a cat because they hide illnesses so well.

Aside from the air through the nasal passages, a cat can make unique noises while purring. A cat should not be making any noises emanating from its upper respiratory tract; if it does, it may have an upper respiratory tract infection.

This infection can be acute or chronic, sudden and severe or long-term, for life, and be less severe because it can be managed, such as asthma.

Have you undoubtedly heard your stomach gurgle?

A cat’s stomach can gurgle the same as your stomach. A cat can purr at the same time. This can happen if the cat is hungry or plum full from eating dinner. This is entirely different if you hear gurgling from the throat. This gurgling should be cause for concern.

A gurgling/hoarse sound from your cat means a possible illness involving the throat, larynx, and lungs, meaning the lower respiratory tract. The problems could be any of the following illnesses.

  • Feline Rhinotracheitis or Feline Herpesvirus Type I

This is a severe illness, and your cat needs immediate treatment. If your cat is already ill with a chronic disease such as asthma or IBS, your cat’s immune system has already taken a hit. This illness is all that much more severe. Other possibilities include but are not limited to the following.

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Common Cold

It is not uncommon for you or your cat to have laryngitis, an inflamed and swollen larynx due to an infection or irritation such as something so simple as a common cold.

The larynx is where your voice emanates, and your cat’s meow comes from. When the larynx becomes irritated, you have difficulty speaking, and your cat has difficulty meowing. Your cat’s meow can sound gurgly and hoarse.

Perhaps all it can muster is moving its lips without any sound. Like you, your cat may try coughing to help clear the throat.

Laryngeal Paralysis

This condition causes the cat to be unable to meow because the upper respiratory tract is partially blocked, causing gurgling sounds in the throat. You may see your cat make strange movements with its mouth. Laryngeal Paralysis can be caused by some of the following.

  • Throat surgery
  • Collar damage
  • Bites
  • Cancer

Plural Effusion

This condition causes fluid to build up in the pleural cavity and causes the lungs to limit their movement and air exchange. You may hear a gurgling/hoarse sound from your cat and see that your cat has trouble breathing.

Although pleural effusion has varying degrees of severity, it is dangerous at any level, and you need to get your cat to the vet for emergency consultation and treatment. Causes could be such as but not limited to the following.

  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Infectious Peritonitis
  • Tumors
  • Cancer
  • Penetration of an object
  • Hernia in the diaphragm
  • Chest trauma
  • Bacterial Infection

Nasal Tumors or Polyps

Nasal tumors or polyps are common in cats and, when present, can cause some shortness of breath and rales or a rattling sound in the throat.

  • This can also affect the cat’s ears.
  • It may be shaking its head.
  • It may constantly scratch its ears.

This needs your vet’s intervention.

What To Do If My Cat’s Purr Sounds Gurgly/Hoarse? 

If you hear your cat develop a gurgling/hoarse sound, please do not treat them at home. It is best if you can keep your cat calm. After you visit your vet, allow your cat time to rest and recover. Sometimes a humidifier in the vicinity of rest could help to keep their throat and nasal passages moist.

Cats are susceptible to our moods and behavior. If you become anxious, upset, and scattered, it will not help your cat. Your cat will pick up on your nervousness, making your cat more anxious.

Know Your Cat’s Normal Sounds

Whether you just adopted your first cat or you have had a cat for a while, pay special attention to the unique noises that your cat makes. Knowing what noises are typical for your cat and what is different and unusual helps you to get your cat to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. All cats are different. You must,

  • Get your cat to the vet at once when they display gurgly, harsh sounds.
  • Immediately get it to the vet for out-of-the-ordinary symptoms
  • Continually monitor your cat for changes.
  • Do not diagnose your cat’s health and do not treat it at home. It is up to your vet to diagnose and treat accordingly.

Depending on the diagnosis, your vet may order,

  • Oxygen
  • Extract fluid around the heart or lungs
  • Diuretics
  • Blood work
  • X-ray or scans
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Pain medications
  • Steroid therapy
  • Eye drops
  • Rehydration
  • Admit to the hospital

It takes your vet’s expertise to determine the cause of the gurgling/hoarse sounds and to initiate the proper treatment.

If your cat is making unusual sounds like gurgling/hoarse sounds, this is a cause for alarm, and you need to call your vet as soon as possible. If you can get your cat into an emergency hospital, it is best to do this rather than wait until the holiday, weekend, or night is over. It could be too late, especially if it has developed an upper respiratory infection or a heart or lung problem.

Your vet is the only go-to professional for help if you hear gurgling/hoarse sounds from your cat’s throat or upper respiratory tract.