do cats lose their voice

Cat laryngitis is often the result of infectious diseases such as upper respiratory infections (cat cold or URI), calicivirus, or rhinotracheitis however there are a number of other conditions that can cause your cat to lose their voice including: Inhaled irritants, such as smoke or dust.

What Is Loss of Voice in Cats?

A common reason for a cat’s voice to change is an upper respiratory infection. This is only temporary, and after the infection clears up, the cat usually resumes its usual behavior within a few days to a few weeks. Contact your veterinarian if your cat has a change in voice along with squinty eyes, yellow or green nasal or eye discharge, lethargy, or especially if your cat is not eating or drinking much. Certain upper respiratory infections call for veterinary care.

Other less common but frequently more dangerous causes of a changed or lost voice include those that can impair breathing or swallowing, which can be fatal. A tumor in the throat, a foreign object lodged in the throat, an injury to the throat, an abscess (pocket of pus), irritation from consuming a toxic substance, or laryngeal paralysis are the most frequent causes of these conditions.

Ways a Cat Can Lose Their Voice

  • Similar to how people get a cold, an upper respiratory viral infection can cause laryngitis. Their voice temporarily changes or disappears due to throat swelling.
  • In cats, benign polyps are most frequently found in the nasopharynx, the back of the mouth. They can occasionally be found on the larynx, where they alter the meow.
  • The two most prevalent malignancies that affect the throat are squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma. As they get bigger, they cause your cat’s breathing to become noisy and their voice to change or disappear.
  • Any kind of trauma or injury to the throat region can result in changes to the vocalizations, laryngeal structural damage, and swelling. These include: Foreign object (e. g. a kick, fall, crush injury, venomous bite, needle and string, stick, or foxtail)
  • Abscesses can emerge rapidly from a bite wound or foreign object infection in the throat. The meow may alter or stop as the abscess enlarges.
  • Caustic irritation causes swelling in the mouth and throat. Depending on how much of the swelling there is (it may get worse before getting better), your cat might lose its voice or change. Exposure to toxins, such as those found in plants or common household chemicals, can result in chronic vomiting.
  • When a portion of the larynx is paralyzed, it cannot move at all or only partially. The arytenoids, a set of gates in the larynx, are always open to allow the cat to breathe. When the cat swallows, they close, allowing food and liquids to enter the esophagus safely. Due to the possibility of food and liquids getting into the lungs, laryngeal paralysis causes vocal abnormalities, increased breathing, and an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia in cats.
  • Laryngeal edema is a broad, multifactorial swelling of the throat. Chronic meowing typically causes a mild change in the meow. Breathing difficulties, voice changes, and brachycephalic airway syndrome can result from insect stings.
  • Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune disorder causing weak muscles. Even though weak muscles can occur anywhere in the body, occasionally the esophagus and throat are the only affected areas, which results in changes to the meow and regurgitation of food.
  • Eosinophilic granuloma complex is a collection of skin and oral inflammatory (swelling) disorders. Sometimes the swelling is in the throat, resulting in a change in voice or loss of voice entirely.
  • Seldom do cats who undergo ethanol injection therapy for thyroid nodules or surgical thyroid removal as a treatment for hyperthyroidism experience vocal changes or loss following the procedure.

Signs & Symptoms of Laryngitis in Cats

Your cat may exhibit one or more of the following laryngitis symptoms, depending on the underlying cause:

  • Dry, harsh cough that may be painful
  • Bad breath
  • High-pitched breathing
  • Changes in your cats vocalizations
  • Noisy breathing
  • Open mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lowered head while standing
  • Increased effort to breathe

In addition to exhibiting typical cold symptoms, your cat may display laryngitis brought on by a virus or cat cold. These symptoms include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose

Take your cat to the veterinarian if it exhibits any of the symptoms listed above. When a viral illness causes laryngitis, it sometimes goes away on its own in a few days, but the underlying cause may be dangerous and necessitate veterinary care.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that a sore throat can also result in breathing problems and an inability to eat, two symptoms that require emergency veterinary attention.


Is it normal for cats to lose their voices?

Most cases of voice loss in cats warrant at least a chat with the vet to determine next steps. An upper respiratory infection is typically the most common underlying reason for a cat to experience voice loss. Cats do not typically rest their voices after meowing too much, so it may lead to temporary voice loss.

Why does my cat meow but no sound comes out?

There are several types of meows and meanings behind these vocalizations, silent meows included. Sometimes, health problems can cause a cat to lose their voice. However, silent meows are most often a sign of communication and affection. A silent meow may indicate cat laryngitis, depending on your cat’s health status.

Why is my cat’s meow so raspy?

Overuse is a common case. If a cat meows a lot to attract attention because it is trapped somewhere or in distress, its meowing might become hoarse. Changes in vocal sounds may also be related to laryngitis, or inflammation of the vocal cords.

Can cat laryngitis go away on its own?

While in some cases laryngitis caused by a viral illness may clear up on its own within a couple of days, the underlying cause could be serious and may require veterinary care.