Cat Laryngitis: Can Cats Lose Their Voice?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio

Did you know that cats can get laryngitis? This condition occurs when the larynx, or voice box, is inflamed, and it can cause changes in the sound of your cat’s voice or a loss of their voice.

Keep reading to learn the causes of laryngitis in cats, as well as the symptoms and what you can do to treat it. That way, if your cat’s voice suddenly changes or they become less talkative, you’ll have a better idea of what might be the problem and what you should do.

Casey Elise Christopher/Shutterstock

What Causes Feline Laryngitis?

There are many things that can cause laryngitis in a cat, and they include the following.

When your cat’s throat becomes irritated, they might develop laryngitis. Therefore, one of the causes of cat laryngitis is the inhalation of allergens and irritants like smoke, dust, mold, and pollutants. Even small foreign objects stuck in the throat can lead to it.

Another cause is upper respiratory infection (URI). If your cat is exposed to a virus (e.g., feline viral rhinotracheitis or calicivirus) or bacteria that causes a URI, symptoms can include discharge from the nose and/or eyes, sneezing, coughing, and laryngitis or changes to their voice.

Yet another cause of laryngitis in cats is trauma or injury to the larynx. Also, the growth of a polyp or tumor on the larynx, and certain cancers, can lead to laryngitis.

Can laryngitis be caused by a cat who has been meowing too much? Yes, that may be possible as well. If your cat was loudly meowing out of stress or fear, perhaps during a long car ride as an example, they might end up losing their voice temporarily, in the same way that people lose their voice when they strain it from overuse.  

A rare condition known as laryngeal paralysis affects the upper airway and breathing. It can lead to changes in your cat’s voice, in addition to coughing, noisy breathing, and trouble breathing, as well as other symptoms like vomiting. It can even result in collapse, so it needs to be taken seriously and treated by a vet.

What Are the Symptoms of Laryngitis in Cats?

Remember, because there are various causes of laryngitis, the symptoms your cat develops can depend on the culprit. 

Symptoms of feline laryngitis include:

  • Changes in the sound of your cat’s meow (e.g., hoarse, weak, or loss of voice)
  • Cough (dry cough that progresses to a moist cough, and is painful)
  • Changes in breathing (e.g., panting, rapid breathing, noisy breathing, open-mouth breathing)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced energy and activity  
  • Bad breath
  • Fever

If your cat develops any symptoms, consult a veterinarian right away to figure out what’s wrong.

What Is the Treatment for Cat Laryngitis?

The good news is that mild laryngitis can go away on its own within days or weeks. But if there is an underlying problem causing it, it’s important to treat it so it doesn’t progress. 

Your veterinarian can examine your cat and figure out what’s causing laryngitis. They might also take a close look at your cat’s larynx by using an endoscope. 

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the laryngitis. For instance, if there’s fluid buildup, diuretics might be prescribed, while corticosteroids may be prescribed for inflammation and pain medications can bring your cat relief from discomfort. And if there’s an infection, your vet might give your cat antibiotics.  

In the case of a growth or foreign object, surgery may be required. Also, cats might need a tracheostomy tube to help them breathe when there’s an obstruction. So, again, the treatment might be simple or complex, based on the cause.  

You can also do easy things at home to help your kitty feel better, such as:

  • Create a quiet environment for your pet to relax in, ensuring they are comfortable and able to recover without feeling stressed by noise or lots of foot traffic.

  • If your cat eats dry food, it may be wise to remove it and stick with wet food that’s soft and moist while they recover so the food doesn’t create further irritation.

  • Talk to your veterinarian about any natural remedies or supplements you’re thinking about giving your cat to help them recover, especially if your pet is on medication.

  • Use a high-quality humidifier to add humidity to the room your cat is in. This may help them breathe better, even in the case of upper respiratory infections with mucus. The Vicks Dual Comfort Cool + Warm Mist Humidifier is a great example of an affordable humidifier, and what’s really nice about this one is that you can choose between cool and warm mist based on what would work best for your cat.

If Your Cat Has Lost Their Voice, See a Veterinarian

If your feline friend goes to meow at you and suddenly doesn’t have a voice, or their voice has changed and become hoarse or weak, don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian because the causes of laryngitis in cats can range from mild to severe. And if your kitty is experiencing other symptoms, getting the right treatment right away can help ensure they will feel better and recover sooner. 

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Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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