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Cat Laryngitis: What Happens When Your Cat Loses Their Meow

Has your kitty's formerly high-pitched meow been reduced to a scratchy rasp, a squeak, or complete silence? Your cat may have laryngitis, which can have numerous potential underlying causes. Here, our St. Louis vets explain cat laryngitis symptoms, causes and treatments. 

Can a cat get laryngitis? 

Your cat's larynx has a number of functions; first, it allows your cat to vocalize, which is why the larynx is also called your cat's voice box. If an underlying health issue is affecting your kitty's larynx, your cat's ability to meow will be impacted. 

If your kitty is diagnosed with laryngitis, it means that an illness, irritation, or blockage in the throat has caused your cat's larynx to become inflamed. 

What causes cat laryngitis?

Laryngitis in cats is often caused by infectious diseases such as calicivirus, rhinotracheitis, or upper respiratory infections (URI, or a cat cold). However, other conditions, including those listed below, can also cause your cat to lose their voice: 

  • Hyperthyroidism 
  • Blockage in the larynx
  • Object lodged in throat 
  • Inhaled irritants, such as dust or smoke 
  • Paralysis of laryngeal nerve 
  • Throat cancer 
  • Growth in the throat (benign, non-cancerous)
  • Eosinophilic granuloma complex 

What are the most common cat laryngitis symptoms?

The symptoms of laryngitis that your cat displays will depend on the underlying cause. They may include:

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

If your cat's laryngitis is being caused by a virus or cat cold, you may also notice symptoms of a common cold, like:

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

If you notice any symptoms listed above in your cat, it's time to visit your vet. In some cases, laryngitis caused by a viral illness may clear up on its own within a couple of days. However, the underlying cause may also potentially be serious and may require veterinary care. 

It's important to remember that a sore throat may also lead to problems breathing and an inability to eat, both of which are symptoms that warrant emergency veterinary care

How is cat laryngitis treated?

Before you type, 'My cat has laryngitis' into your favorite search engine, keep in mind that treatment options for this condition will depend on the underlying cause. 

If your vet detects a buildup of fluid in the larynx, they may prescribe a diuretic. If your kitty is showing signs of pain, your vet may prescribe a mild painkiller to help your cat to feel better.

In cases where a foreign body is lodged in your cat's throat surgery may or may not be required to remove the object, but once the object is removed your feline friend will be able to meow again.

If your cat's loss of vocalizations has been caused by eosinophilic granuloma your kitty may be treated for parasites since this condition is often an exaggerated immune response to insect bites. Corticosteroids or steroids may also be prescribed for this condition.

A good way to help your cat feel more comfortable as they recover from laryngitis is to run a humidifier at home and gently clean away any eye or nasal discharge from your cat's face using a soft damp cloth. Boosting your cat's immune system through improved diet and supplements may also be recommended.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Has your cat lost their voice? Contact our St. Louis vets at either of our locations right away. We can provide a quick diagnosis and effective treatment for your cat's laryngitis.

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Animal Emergency Clinic is an after-hours emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs from St. Louis and surrounding areas. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

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