Any change in feline behavior is potentially troublesome. Usually, changes in behavior are associated with illnesses and stress. These underlying causes range from innocent to serious. For instance, many cats experience changes in vocalizations when they are ill.
However, determining if the condition is serious or minor can be difficult. Often, you have to look at other symptoms and your cat’s environment to make a judgment.
A cat can suddenly become silent for a variety of reasons. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common reasons to help you determine which is probably behind your cat’s zipped lips.
The 5 Reasons Why Your Cat is Suddenly Quiet
When cats are first adopted, they can meow a lot. Often, this is a sign of stress. The cat isn’t sure what’s going on or where they are. Cats may worry about a whole host of things, such as when they are eating next and if you’re going to leave. Therefore, to prevent these things from happening, they may demand more attention and more food.
However, as they settle into a routine, they’ll start to figure out that food and attention will stay available. After a few weeks, most cats settle down and may be more laidback than they were during the first week.
Usually, this isn’t a sign of a problem. Instead, it’s a sign of contentment. Your cat has just realized they don’t need to demand so much attention.
Furthermore, kittens and adolescent cats often go through growth changes. During this period, they can be noisy, since they’re experiencing physical changes. However, they will often settle down after a few days.
Cats can also become quiet if they are stressed. Usually, when a cat is stressed, they won’t want to draw attention to themselves. Instead, they’ll want to hide and remain out of sight. Therefore, they may quit vocalizing as much and spend quite a bit of time hiding.
If something new has occurred in your cat’s environment, this is likely to be the case. Even small changes like furniture rearrangements can cause cats to stress. Usually, cats adapt to smaller changes quickly and will be back to their old self in a few days.
However, larger changes often take longer for them to adapt. Introducing a new cat to the house can stress out your current cat for weeks or even months. There are some ways to limit this stress, such as by using pheromones. In some cases, medication may be necessary.
Often, time is all that is needed, though.
In the wild, cats are constantly under threat of larger predators. While cats are predators themselves, there are many larger predators out there that may hunt them. Therefore, cats are extremely good at hiding their illnesses. In the wild, showing signs of an illness can make them a prime target for other predators, including other cats.
Cats are extremely good at hiding their symptoms. Often, owners don’t even notice their cat is sick before the cat is very sick and in need of emergency care.
If your feline is sick, they may start by acting reserved and quiet. They’ll likely be stressed and not want to draw attention to themselves. Therefore, they may quit meowing and spend more time being quiet.
Often, there are very few symptoms that your cat will show at this stage. However, any sort of apathy, changes in appetite, panting, or other behavioral changes may signal that your cat is sick.
If you don’t think your cat is experiencing one of the other problems on this list, a trip to the vet is probably in order. Even if you think the lack of vocalization is caused by something else, you may want to contact your vet, anyway.
4. Emotional Unregulation
If your cat is upset, they may not meow. Just like humans, cats may not feel very sociable if they are sad or stressed. Often, this occurs when cats experience some sort of change, such as a move or the loss of a companion. Emotional upset and stress are very similar.
However, if your cat is upset (but not stressed), then they may not show other stress symptoms. The change may not be as abrupt as a very stressed cat may exhibit.
Sometimes, cats may only quit meowing and perhaps sleep a bit more—but not show other signs of stress. While this is typically still “stress”, cat owners are more likely to identify it as sadness or depression.
As with stress, the only thing you can often do in this situation is wait. Cats often adjust to a new situation after a few days or weeks. If your cat continues showing strange behaviors past a couple of months, you may want to talk to your vet.
Some injuries can prevent your cat from meowing. However, because cats are so good at hiding their discomfort, you may never know that they are injured, to begin with.
Therefore, the only sign that they are injured may be their decreased vocalization. Usually, injuries that affect meowing involve the throat or voice box. Just like a person with strep doesn’t want to talk much, a cat with a sore throat won’t meow much, either.
Injuries like laryngeal paralysis can affect the voice box and cause paralysis. Luckily, this condition is not painful, but it does mean that your cat won’t be able to meow. Tumors and growths can also cause problems with meowing, as they may prevent the voice box from working properly.
There are many injuries that are completely harmless. They may change your cat’s meow, but they don’t always require veterinary attention.
That said, some of them are serious. For instance, if your cat eats something they aren’t supposed to and damages its throat, vet attention is recommended. Not only can these injuries get infected and cause all sorts of problems, but the foreign object can also damage the digestive tract.
When your cat gets injured, the best option is to visit the vet. It is impossible to know for sure what the injury is at home. Therefore, you should visit the vet to ensure that it isn’t something serious.
There are many reasons why a cat may stop meowing. On the more serious end, illnesses and injuries can lead to your cat’s inability to meow. Therefore, if your cat suddenly stops meowing, you should probably contact a vet—unless you can identify another obvious cause.
Not all injuries or illnesses that affect meowing are serious. However, some are and require veterinary attention.
With that said, stress can cause excessive quietness, as well. Some cats meow more when they are stressed, though, especially when they move to a new home. In this case, your cat may stop meowing quite as much whenever they first arrived. However, this is normal and not a reason to be concerned.
Often, in these cases, time is all that’s necessary to fix the situation.
Featured Image Credit: Pklaschka, Pixabay