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Why Do Cats Sigh? Everything You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat meowing

Just like people and most other mammals, cats can sigh. Usually, they sigh in the same situations that people sigh, and their signs generally mean the same thing!

Cats sigh when they’re relaxing, bored, and content. They might sigh briefly when they wake up from a nap or just as they get comfortable enough to fall asleep. Since cats generally only sigh when they are content, it can be a good indication of happiness.

Sighing can also be a sign of boredom, however. If a cat’s lying around because they have nothing to do, sighing may commence.

Usually, sighing isn’t anything serious. You don’t have to worry about it indicating an underlying illness. Sighing is usually just a normal behavior that cats exhibit!

3 Reasons That Cats Sigh

cat on the couch bleps
Image Credit: Sonja-Kalee, Pixabay

Just like people, sighing can occur for all sorts of different reasons in cats. Here is a short explanation of common reasons that cats may sigh.

1. Relaxation

Cats often sigh when they are relaxed. They may sigh right after they wake up or before they go to sleep. It’s normal to see cats stretch out, sigh, and then snuggle back up during a nap. It’s a sign of relaxation and contentment.

Stressed cats usually don’t sigh. However, even stressed felines might feel comfortable every once in a while.

Sighing is like deep breathing — it is relaxing. Cats may sigh to release excess carbon monoxide and relax their facial muscles, which relaxes the other muscles in their body. It’s a precursor to sleep for many felines.

2. Contentment

cat on the grass meowing
Image Credit: Piqsels

Contentment and relaxation go hand in hand. However, cats may sign when they aren’t necessarily relaxed but just very content. For instance, if your feline is lying around on the couch, then they may sigh as part of their contentment.

Stressed and anxious cats will usually be wound up too much to sigh. Therefore, if your cat is sighing, it’s a good sign that they aren’t stressed or anxious.

That said, you shouldn’t assume that your cat is entirely content based on their sighing alone. Sometimes, cats will also sigh when they are stressed. Usually, this will be accompanied by other stress behaviors, though.

If your cat is relaxed and sighing, it usually isn’t a sign that they are anxious.

3. Boredom

If your cat is bored, they’re probably just lying around. In this situation, it isn’t uncommon for your feline to lie around and sigh. They’re relaxed and content to be sure. But they’re only relaxing because they don’t have anything better to do.

Boredom can come in many forms. Sometimes, cats will attempt to make their own fun, which usually results in destructive behaviors. If your cat is climbing around on the cabinets and getting into places that they shouldn’t, they may be bored.

These destructive periods are usually interspersed with times of lying around and not doing anything. Sighing can occur during this period.

Some cats need more mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy than others. If your feline sleeps for incredibly long periods and is destructive when they are awake, it can be a sign of boredom.

In these situations, we recommend introducing more mental stimulation. You can invest in climbing trees for your feline, as many cats find great fun in climbing. Or you can invest in puzzle toys specifically designed for cats.

Either way, your goal should be to improve the amount of mental stimulation in your cat’s day, which should stop the destructive behaviors.

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Why Does My Cat Sigh Loudly?

tabby cat sneezing
Image Credit: Jupiter_79, Pixabay

Some cats sigh more loudly than others. Typically, this isn’t a sign of an underlying problem. Some cats are more vocal or may randomly be more vocal during certain times. Some people sigh quite loudly compared to others, but this typically doesn’t mean much.

Cats often sigh when relaxed. If they are sighing particularly loudly, it could be that they’re more relaxed.

Of course, just because your cat doesn’t sigh loudly doesn’t mean they’re stressed or anxious. All cats have favorite ways of expressing themselves, and some felines sigh loudly more often.

There usually isn’t an issue with your cat sighing loudly. In most cases, it’s just a sign that your feline is snuggling up to go to sleep or enjoying their current situation.

What’s the Difference Between a Sigh and a Huff?

Sighing and huffing are quite different even though they often sound the same and can be easily mistaken for each other.

Sighing usually happens when the cat is relaxed and even half asleep. Your cat will likely be showing other signs of relaxation, such as heavy eyes. Most cats will be stretched out or curled up in a position that they like to sleep in. Cats that are tense and wound up usually aren’t sighing.

On the other hand, cats tend to huff at things. They’re completely alert and focusing on whatever they’re huffing about.

For instance, cats often huff to signify their irritation. Therefore, whatever is irritating them is usually the thing that they’re focusing on. Their eyes probably won’t be closed, and they aren’t likely to be in a sleep position.

Cats huff at other cats as a warning. It isn’t quite as aggressive as a hiss but gets the same point across. When a cat huffs at another cat, it’s a signal that the other cat needs to get away or things may escalate.

Often, cats resort to huffing instead of hissing when they’re just irritated but not necessarily frightened. A cat may huff at another when they know that there is no real danger, but they’d still rather the other cat be somewhere else.

If the feline is worried about the other cat harming them, they’re much more likely to hiss and growl instead.

Is Sighing a Sign of a Problem?

cat rubbing its face to owner
Image Credit: Piqsels

In many cases, sighing is not a sign of any problem. There are no major medical conditions for cats that have sighing as one of the main symptoms. If your cat is sick, they will probably show other signs.

However, fatigue and lethargy are common signs of illness. Cats are good at hiding their illness. In the wild, any sign of illness could result in them being attacked by a predator. Domestic cats don’t have to worry about being attacked in our homes, but these innate instincts apply. Our cats will still hide their illness until they become very sick.

Usually, when your cat starts showing undeniable signs of illness, they have been sick for a while.

Lethargy is usually one of the first signs that your cat isn’t feeling good. While they may not show any outward signs of pain, they may stop moving quite as much and as quickly as they would before. They may lie around more, which can lead to more sighing.

However, if they are in pain, cats may not truly relax to the point that they sigh. On the other hand, sighing can sometimes be a method of pain relief. Anything that helps a cat relax may lessen their pain, which is likely greater if they’re all tensed up.

Therefore, sighing can accompany illness. If your cat is lying around more, they’re probably going to sigh more. However, sighing itself isn’t a common sign of illness.


Cats may sigh for a variety of different reasons. Usually, this is a sign that your cat is relaxed and enjoying life. Sighing helps relax your feline’s facial muscles and increases the amount of oxygen circulating in their bloodstream.

Often, sighing is just a part of a cats’ relaxation routine. They’ll often get comfortable and ready to go to sleep before sighing. Many may wake up between sleep cycles, get comfortable again, and then sigh. Some may sigh when they’re simply relaxing but not necessarily sleeping.

Either way, sighing is not a sign of a problem. It’s a sign that your cat is content and peaceful. They aren’t worried about anything suddenly coming up and disturbing their sleep.

That said, certain medical conditions can cause cats to lie around a bit more than usual. In these cases, they may sign more simply because they’re lying around more. Of course, in-pain cats may have a hard time calming down and may sigh less.

Sighing can be helpful when indicating your cat’s current mood, but only when combined with other signals. Don’t assume that your cat is entirely relaxed (or not) based on the amount that they’re sighing. Just like most animals, cats have their preferred way of communicating. Some may simply sigh more than others.

Featured Image Credit: Marvin Otto, Pixabay

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