Cats make all kinds of noises to communicate with their owners and each other. Some cats have resounding meows that owners can hear from around the house, and others will softly chirp or squeak to “talk”. All these noises are normal for cats; even cats that have never meowed aren’t abnormal unless something has changed.
If your cat used to meow and now can only issue a squeak, it could indicate ill health. You should take your cat to the vet if it has lost its voice or can only squeak instead of meowing. There are several reasons a cat can lose its voice and only squeak, including laryngitis, blockages, and occasionally cancer.
What If My Cat Has Never Meowed?
Some cats only squeak and have never meowed; if this is the case with your cat, it could be because their mother never taught them how to meow. Kittens are born knowing how to vocalize, but it is only a squeak. Kittens will squeak to their mothers to let them know where they are or to communicate a need to them, such as hunger.
The mother cat will chirp and chirrup back, but meowing isn’t modeled until later. Usually, meowing is used to communicate solely to humans, so a cat will meow to its owners, and the kittens will learn this behavior. Cats tend to use body language to communicate primarily with other cats.
Cats that are feral or semi-feral and don’t spend much time around humans may never learn to meow to elicit human attention.1
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Squeaking?
Something is wrong if your cat used to meow happily but is now only managing a squeak. It could be generalized or a specific problem with their throat, upper airways, or voice box (larynx). There are a few reasons why your cat might suddenly be squeaking:
Non-Medical Reasons For Squeaking
Cats can also squeak for non-medical reasons. These are usually behavioral and are often used to communicate something specific, like between a kitten and the mother cat. The following points are all examples of squeaking for non-medical reasons:
Cats make all kinds of sounds. If your cat has never been one to meow, their squeaking might be their way of getting your attention. For example, if they want you to follow or are imploring you to feed them, a squeak might be the most attention-grabbing noise they can make.
However, if your cat has a healthy meow normally, a suddenly hoarse or squeaking meow usually indicates a problem. Laryngitis is often the cause of squeaking meows, and taking your cat to the vet if you have any concerns about changes in its voice is strongly recommended.
Featured Image Credit: Marvin Otto, Pixabay