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Why Did My Cat Lose His Voice? 6 Potential Reasons!

It’s normal for us to lose our voice or feel hoarse when we’re sick or after yelling at a party or concert. It’s not as common of an occurrence in our pets. If your normally vocal cat has suddenly lost his voice or his meows have become raspy, you might be worried about what’s causing the unusual silence.

We always recommend consulting with your veterinarian if your cat starts displaying out-of-character behaviors. Several factors could be contributing to their quietness, and a sudden loss of voice could be indicative of underlying conditions. Most of the time, there is a benign cause behind the silence, but in some situations, this symptom could be a sign of something more serious. Keep reading to find the potential reasons why your kitty has been silent lately.

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The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Lost His Voice

1. Overuse

Just as humans can lose their voice after talking too much or speaking at a loud volume for too long, cats can lose the ability to meow if they’ve been especially vocal lately.

You’ll see this most often in female cats who are in heat, though it has been seen in both genders. Sometimes cats will meow excessively when they’re put into uncomfortable or new scenarios. Maybe you recently took a long road trip with your cat or had put them up in a boarding facility while you were away on vacation. Your cat will vocalize a lot when they’re stressed so these types of new situations can trigger them into overusing their voices.

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Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock
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2. Laryngeal Problems

Your cat’s larynx (voice box) is what they use to vocalize. If your pet has an underlying issue that affects his larynx, his ability to meow will be affected. If the vet has determined your cat is dealing with inflammation in his larynx, he will be diagnosed with laryngitis.

Feline laryngitis is most often caused by infectious diseases like calicivirus or rhinotracheitis.

Calicivirus is one of the most common infectious agents in cats that have a respiratory infection. Cats with this virus will have symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, and nasal and eye discharge. They are also prone to developing ulcers in their mouths and nose.

Rhinotracheitis is sometimes known as Herpesvirus infection or Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR). It is an infectious disease and is a major cause of upper respiratory disease in cats. It’s also the most common cause of feline conjunctivitis (the most common feline eye disorder). Cats with FVR will exhibit symptoms such as fever, sneezing, nasal inflammation, excessive salivation, lethargy, and anorexia.

Laryngeal paralysis is a disorder of the upper airway. It is rare in cats but could be a reason your kitty cannot use his voice. This condition happens when the cartilages in the larynx are not able to open and close as they should when your cat is breathing.

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3. Environmental Factors

Inhaled irritants like smoke or dust can cause voice loss in pets.

Smoke inhalation can happen when an airborne chemical or gas is breathed in. A home fire is the most common cause of smoke inhalation in cats as they’ll often retreat to a hiding spot instead of trying to escape. Fires can also release chemical gases that can cause poisoning in your pets. Smoke inhalation can cause serious conditions like secondary pneumonia and neurological dysfunction.

Dust inhalation is another environmental factor that can cause voice loss. If you use traditional cat litter for your pets, they’re around dust particles every day. Regular litter box habits will rarely create enough of a dust cloud to cause issues, though.

Your cat might also be suffering from feline allergies. Things like pollen or dust mites can cause your kitty to get a sore throat which can lead to hoarseness and voice loss.

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Image Credit: scarlett1991, Pixabay
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4. Foreign Bodies

Cats are curious little creatures. It’s not unusual for them to get themselves into predicaments where they’re putting themselves in harm’s way. Small bones, grass awns, or household objects like screws or buttons can become lodged in your cat’s throat if they try to eat or play with them. When foreign bodies like this are stuck in their throats, it will be difficult for them to vocalize. Most of the time, you will notice your cat displaying other signs of this problem, such as vomiting, stinky breath, and anorexia.

A throat obstruction is a serious problem that must be seen by your vet. Your vet will most likely need to sedate your cat to perform a laryngoscope to see what’s going on.

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5. Growths or Tumors

Both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors and growths can interfere with your cat’s ability to vocalize.

Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign masses that begin growing in the middle ear. As they continue to grow, they travel down the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. If they keep growing, they can partially block the back of your cat’s mouth, making it difficult for them to breathe.

Chondrosarcoma is a rather rare but fast-spreading tumor that begins in the cartilage. They are one of a few different kinds of laryngeal tumors that can affect how your cat’s voice box and trachea operate. Chondrosarcoma is aggressive, malignant, and life-threatening. If it is to blame for your cat’s change in voice, your vet will need to excise the tumor and potentially surrounding tissue as well.

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Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock
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6. Rabies

Rabies in cats is rare, thanks to aggressive vaccination programs. Of the roughly 250 cases of feline rabies reported every year, most are in unvaccinated cats.

So, while it is unlikely that your cat’s voice loss is due to rabies, it’s not entirely implausible. The rabies virus can cause hoarseness which will present itself in your cats’ difficulty to vocalize. If there is any chance your pet may have had a run-in with a rabid animal, you need to visit your vet as soon as possible.

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How Can I Soothe My Cat’s Throat?

You should make an appointment to visit your cat’s vet anytime he’s showing signs of illness or discomfort. Your vet can prescribe pain medication if they determine that your kitty is in a lot of pain which can help soothe their throat and allow them to swallow. If your vet finds your cat is fighting an infection, he may prescribe corticosteroids and antibiotics to help control it.

If your cat has a respiratory infection that’s affecting his voice box, he may also be resisting at food time. Cats use their nose to smell their food before eating it. That’s why they’ll turn their nose up at spoiled food or a dish that’s been tampered with (hence why trying to stick your cat’s medication in their food most likely doesn’t work). While this is a fantastic survival skill, it’s not helpful if your cat is sick and cannot smell its food. They cannot feel better if they’re not able to eat.

If you know your kitty has a respiratory infection, try offering them slightly warm (but not hot) food. Warmer foods tend to produce more of an odor and will be more tempting to a sick cat. Mix a bit of warm water with their soft food to create a creamier and softer version that’ll feel nice on their throats.

Some cats with throat irritation respond well to throat drops. You can find these online or in specialty pet stores. These supplements are made with herbal ingredients to support the throats’ tissues as well as your cat’s upper respiratory tract.

If your cat’s hoarseness is due to growths or tumors, your vet will need to remove them or treat them with medication. The same goes for cats suffering from laryngeal paralysis.

Cat allergies can be treated with medication from your veterinarian.

cat is being checked by a vet
Image Credit: Maria Sbytova, Shutterstock

Is Laryngitis Contagious?

It depends on what’s causing the laryngitis diagnosis.

Cats with upper respiratory infections are contagious to their feline housemates but not to humans. If you have a multi-cat household, we recommend separating the kitty with laryngitis from its housemates until they have been cleared from the vet. A single sneeze can expose the other cats in your home to the laryngitis-causing virus. This is even true if everyone is up to date with their vaccinations.

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your sick pet.

There are several things you can do to keep your isolating cat as comfortable as possible as they recover. Provide them with a quiet and warm spot to rest. Give them plenty of water and wet food (as directed above). A humidifier can be helpful if your cat is congested. Don’t stop giving your cat medication that’s been prescribed, even if they seem to have recovered.

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Final Words

While there are a lot of factors that could be contributing to your cat’s sudden silence, they’re not all an immediate cause for concern. We do always recommend making a visit with your vet for peace of mind, though. We like to err on the side of caution when it comes to our feline family members and bet you do too.

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Featured Image Credit: Oscar Wiedemeijer, Shutterstock

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