Your cat has stopped meowing all of a sudden. This is not typical cat behavior because cats verbalize to tell humans they want food or attention or to express anger about a situation. Why does a cat suddenly stop meowing?
If your cat stops meowing, check if it has a foreign object stuck in its throat. If this is not the case, your cat probably has laryngitis. Some cats develop laryngitis because they meow too much or swallow an irritant. A lack of vocalization can also be a secondary symptom of another condition. These can include anaphylactic shock, laryngeal paralysis, feline herpes, feline calicivirus, hyperthyroidism, trauma, hairballs, laryngeal tumors, and rabies.
If your cat stops meowing due to a sore throat, he may refuse food and water. This can quickly become dangerous.
So, if your cat suddenly stops meowing, you need to find out why this is the case.
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Why Has My Cat Stopped Meowing?
When a previously vocal cat stops meowing, it’s usually due to a medical problem. Common medical conditions that prevent a cat from meowing or alter a cat’s meowing include:
- Laryngitis or laryngeal paralysis.
- Anaphylactic shock
- Feline herpes
- Feline calicivirus
- Revenge tumors
- Laryngeal injury
It doesn’t have to be the case that your cat loses its meow. It can also happen that the cat squeals rather than meows.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. When the larynx is inflamed and swollen, the cat has difficulty articulating.
The cat then usually has a harsh, dry cough expelled in short bursts. Over several days, the cough becomes more moist.
Other symptoms of laryngitis in cats include:
- Lowered head
- Noisy breathing with an open mouth
- Gasping for air
- Loss of appetite due to difficulty swallowing
- Bad breath
Sometimes, laryngitis is even caused by excessive meowing. Verbal cat breeds like the Siamese cat may be more likely to suffer from laryngitis.
In these cases, however, the cat recovers after a few days of rest.
Cats can also get laryngitis if foreign objects are caught in the throat.
Inhalation of irritants such as cigarette smoke, dust, or air fresheners can also cause laryngitis. These symptoms subside after a few days.
Laryngitis can be diagnosed with the help of an endoscope. This is called a laryngoscopy.
If a foreign body is found in the throat, it is removed. Otherwise, further investigation is needed to determine the cause of the laryngitis.
Often, laryngitis is not a separate problem. It is often a symptom of other health problems.
Therefore, treatment depends on the underlying cause. However, simple laryngitis is treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, and pain medications.
In laryngeal paralysis, the cartilage of the larynx stiffens and cannot open or close. This is the most common complaint in cats with laryngeal disease.
The symptoms of laryngeal paralysis are similar to those of common laryngitis. Your cat may also show other worrisome symptoms, such as collapsing after physical exertion and vomiting undigested food.
As with laryngitis, a laryngoscopy is required to diagnose the problem.
If laryngeal paralysis is confirmed, treatment is urgently needed. If the problem is still mild, oral steroids and sedatives may provide relief.
In more severe cases of laryngeal paralysis, surgery is required. This involves making an incision to reopen the cartilage of the larynx.
In extreme cases, a ventriculocordectomy is required. This is the removal of the vocal cords. The cat is then unable to articulate but is healthy in other respects.
A cat with allergies may experience anaphylactic shock. This is when the cat’s throat swells, making it unable to articulate. Because breathing becomes difficult, the cat’s life is in danger.
The most common causes of anaphylactic shock are:
- Consumption of food allergens.
- Insect stings, such as bee and wasp stings
- Reactions to medications or vaccines.
In addition to a swollen throat, symptoms of anaphylactic shock include:
- Outbreak of hives
- Low body temperature
- Pale, discolored gums
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Anaphylaxis is treated with epinephrine, a form of intravenous epinephrine. Anti-inflammatories and fluid replacement may also be needed.
Shock may also be relieved with antihistamines.
Feline Herpes (FHV)
Feline herpes (FHV or FHV-1) is a contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract.
FHV is usually transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat. Saliva, blood, and sharing food and water are common causes of this disease.
Symptoms of feline herpes include:
- Discharge from the eyes and nose
- Loss of appetite
In pharyngitis, the cat loses its voice because the back of the throat becomes inflamed. The cat then has a sore throat that makes swallowing and meowing difficult.
When a cat is sick with FHV, the virus does not leave its body. It lies dormant and can be reactivated during times of stress or secondary illness.
This can be problematic in older cats with compromised immunity.
All cats should, therefore, be vaccinated against FHV as kittens and receive a booster every 3 years.
Treatment for feline herpes includes antibiotic medication and rest. If the cat is dehydrated, intravenous hydration is also required.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
Feline calicivirus (FCV) is an upper respiratory problem. It can also infect cats along with FHV.
The symptoms are identical to those of FHV, although FCV can also cause gingivitis and muscle problems.
A cat can be vaccinated against FCV, but this is not always successful. FCV mutates, which means a different strain can infect a cat. However, a vaccine can relieve symptoms.
Antibiotics and rest can cure an FCV infection in an otherwise healthy cat. Make sure your cat drinks plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and flush the virus from the body.
Hyperthyroidism is comparatively common in older cats. This condition is also known as thyrotoxicosis.
In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid glands in the cat’s neck are swollen and enlarged. This makes swallowing, breathing and speaking difficult.
These enlarged glands also flood the cat’s body with excess hormones. This leads to physical symptoms such as:
- Weight loss despite increased appetite.
- Shaggy, unkempt appearance
- Excessive thirst
- Lethargy and depression
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid heart rate
- Vomiting and diarrhea
The cause of hyperthyroidism is usually a benign tumor on the neck. This is called an adenoma.
Oral medications are prescribed for treatment. Hyperthyroidism cannot be reversed, but symptoms can be controlled and kept to a minimum with medication.
Sometimes, hyperthyroidism can be attributed to a malignant tumor. These are known as thyroid adenocarcinomas.
In this case, the cat will undergo radiation therapy, or the thyroid glands will be surgically removed.
A cat can live with hyperthyroidism, but it must be examined regularly.
Many cats with hyperthyroidism also develop hypertension and high blood pressure. This, too, must be carefully treated.
In addition to tumors associated with hyperthyroidism, cats can also develop throat cancer.
This is due to a tumor called chondrosarcoma. Older male cats are most at risk for this disease.
Chondrosarcoma starts in the throat and larynx but spreads quickly. Therefore, diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
Common symptoms of chondrosarcoma include:
- Inability to purr and meow.
- Loud, labored breathing, usually through the mouth.
- Lack of energy or stamina
- Loss of appetite and difficulty swallowing.
Unfortunately, the prognosis for a cat with chondrosarcoma is poor. This tumor is so malignant that it usually spreads before treatment.
Even a cat that undergoes emergency surgery has little chance of survival beyond six months.
If a wild animal in a rabies area bites a cat, the rabies virus can be transmitted to the cat.
Rabies is, therefore, an essential vaccination for cats. You should definitely have your cat vaccinated against rabies, as the consequences of this disease are dire.
Rabies causes the cat’s throat to swell, making it difficult to swallow and make sounds. A rabid cat will rarely close its mouth for this reason.
The virus has the following additional symptoms:
- Muscular paralysis
- Lack of coordination
- Drooling and foaming at the mouth
A rabid cat is euthanized immediately. Rabies is highly contagious and deadly to humans and animals alike. There is no cure, which is why vaccination is so important.
Physical trauma to the throat can damage a cat’s vocal cords. For example, if your cat fell from a great height, it may have shaken or injured its larynx.
An injury to the trachea can also cost a cat its meowing.
If a cat shows no symptoms of illness, laryngeal trauma is the most likely explanation. Treatment ranges from oral pain medications to emergency surgery.
The cat may also suffer emotional trauma and refuse to raise its voice.
If the cat has had laryngitis, it may remember that meowing was painful. This may discourage the cat from meowing in the future.
Hairballs are a common cause of vocal cord blockages. These blockages can prevent your cat from meowing.
While hairballs are a natural companion to cat care, they can become problematic.
Cats develop hairballs during grooming. The cat licks its fur and swallows the fur it sheds in the process. If she swallows too much fur at once, it can get stuck in her throat.
Rub some petroleum jelly on your cat’s paws before grooming. This is not toxic to cats. If the cat swallows it, it acts as a lubricant.
This will make it easier for the hairball to travel down your cat’s throat and into the digestive tract.