Has your cat ever inexplicably gone mute? Your usually vocal kitty may not be meowing as often, or they sound funny when they do. Just like humans, cats are susceptible to a variety of illnesses and environmental factors that can cause them to lose their voice.
Thankfully, it’s not always serious when your cat loses their voice. You may notice that they sound raspier than usual, and sometimes they lose their voice completely.
But before running off to the vet in a panic, there are some things you should know about your beloved kitty’s anatomy and the various reasons why a cat may lose their voice.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
Yes, they certainly can. Cats can lose their voices for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are serious.
A change in your cat’s voice may be subtle. Your cat’s meow may sound a little bit raspy or forced. In these situations, the cause is not usually serious. Sometimes even just dry, cold weather is the culprit.
Other times, a change in your cat’s voice can mean a very serious medical problem, either caused by trauma, a foreign body, infection, or disease.
To understand why your cat may lose their voice, it’s important to understand a bit of kitty anatomy.
Just like in human beings, vocal sounds in cats are created by the physical vibration of the vocal cords, which are located at the beginning of their trachea. Kitties respond to your voice and can even learn their name!
When your cat’s brain sends the signal to the vocal cords to make a sound, the vocal cords open and close. The opening and closing produce all the noises your cat makes, from purring to meowing.
In fact, cats have an additional membrane in their vocal cords that humans and other animals don’t have. This additional membrane is what produces the “purring” sound your cat makes when they are happy.
The membrane is able to vibrate very quickly and doesn’t inhibit their breathing, which is why your cat can purr for long periods of time without having to stop to breathe.
Anything that inhibits the vocal cords from vibrating correctly will cause a change in your cat’s voice.
This cat’s unusual meow may be caused by an underlying problem in their throat.
Cats can lose their voice for a lot of different reasons. A cold caused by a respiratory virus is the most common and benign reason.
If your cat catches a lot of colds, you may want to consider adding an immune system booster to your cat’s food or water. Vibactra is an all-natural immune system support additive that may help give your kitty’s immune system a boost.
If you suspect their upper respiratory problems are allergy-related, you can talk to your vet about allergy medicine for cats, such as Zyrtec.
Just as you may lose your voice when you have a cold or flu, excess mucus or irritation in your cat’s upper respiratory tract may cause them to temporarily have a hoarse voice or lose their voice altogether.
However, there are some other causes that are much more serious:
If your cat has accidentally ingested something that they shouldn’t have, especially something sharp, these foreign bodies can cause irritation and, eventually, an abscess in the throat. Your vet will be able to examine your cat’s throat to check for any foreign body that may be causing the problem.
You can help protect your cat against these types of abscesses by keeping tempting yet dangerous things out of reach such as needles, prickly plants, and shards of bone.
Cancer of the throat is known to happen in cats. Tumors, both benign and malignant, can also form on your cat’s vocal cords, larynx, and trachea. Your veterinarian can make a diagnosis of cancer and hopefully offer you and your cat various treatment options. A common cause for throat cancer in cats is being in a home where cigarettes are smoked as these toxic chemicals can badly damage their delicate bodies.
Sometimes a cough, caused by a virus or allergies, is enough to cause your cat to lose their voice. While you should definitely bring them to the vet to rule out any serious causes, if it’s just a seasonal cold you can try giving them a natural cough relief supplement, like Homeo Pet Cough.
Your cat may lose their voice if they have been injured, either accidentally or in a fight with another cat. Even if the injury isn’t directly on or around their vocal cords, swelling in the area can temporarily cause your cat to lose their voice. This swelling could indicate that your cat may have bad injuries in other parts of their body as well, so unless you’re completely sure that this is the only injury your cat sustained, you may want to take them in to see the vet.
Because vocal cords are muscles, any sort of muscle disorder may inhibit them from vibrating and cause your cat to lose their voice. Muscle disorders are serious but many of them are treatable, especially if you catch them early, so make sure you don’t wait too long before getting them checked out. After all, if they do have a muscle disorder that’s affecting their vocal cords, it’s likely already affecting other muscles as well.
If your cat loses their voice and it doesn’t clear up within a few days, it’s a good idea to bring them to the vet for a check-up. While the cause is likely not serious, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
This poor kitty has almost lost her voice due to a sore throat
Kittens lose their voices for many of the same reasons that adult cats do. Some of these causes are:
However, there are some other causes that are unique to kittens. One of these causes is FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. While it’s not a common cause of vocal changes in kittens, it can cause your kitten to lose their voice.
This virus is most common in very young kittens, as they can’t be vaccinated against FIV until they are ten to twelve weeks old.
If you see that your kitten has lost their voice, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet to check it out. Kittens are delicate little creatures and even a small cold could make them very ill if a veterinarian does not treat it promptly and correctly.
Just like in adolescent human beings, a juvenile cat’s voice will change as they enter into adulthood. This is one of the many reasons why a cat may temporarily have a hoarse or muted meow.
While it depends largely on the individual cat, you may notice your cat’s voice changing around eleven months of age, which is when kitty puberty generally begins.
Young kittens have high-pitched, sometimes squeaky meows and vocalizations. This will begin to change once your cat reaches their first birthday when their meow will become clearer and deepen. During this period of transition, your cat’s meow may sound a little bit strange. But don’t worry! It’s a natural part of feline adolescence and will usually resolve itself within a few months.
Absolutely, and while it’s not always serious, it always warrants monitoring and potentially medical attention. If you notice your cat struggling to meow, meowing hoarsely, or has lost their voice altogether and it doesn’t clear up within a day or so you should bring them to the vet.
If you discover that your cat lost their voice because of a cold or respiratory virus, you may want to consider adding a supplement to their diet, such as Vibactra, which can help boost their immune system.
Has your cat ever lost their voice? What was the cause? Do you have any secrets to helping your kitty regain their ability to meow? Let us know in the comments!
After moving to New York City from Rome, Italy, I began working in the nonprofit world. Despite my day job, my passion has always been animals, especially dogs and cats, and writing. What better way to combine the two? I’ve been a pet owner for 15 years, and my menagerie includes dogs, cats, hamsters and the occasional hermit crab. My beloved cat, Mozart, who I found as a newborn kitten, sparked my love for felines and is now nearly 15 years old. I am an enthusiastic volunteer at the local ASPCA, where I enjoy spending time with the cats and cleaning up after the dogs. I’ve been writing about pet ownership and care for the past five years.