Does your kitty's meow sound like a scratchy rasp, squeak, or like there isn't any sound at all? If so, they might have laryngitis which can arise for various different reasons. In this post, our Memphis vets explain what cat laryngitis is, what can cause it, and how it can be treated.
Can cats get laryngitis?
Your cat's larynx performs a number of tasks including letting your cat vocalize, this is why the larynx is also known as your cat's voicebox. If your cat has an underlying health condition that affects its larynx it will also impact your cat's ability to meow.
If your cat is diagnosed with laryngitis it means your kitty's larynx is inflamed as a result of irritation, illness, or a blockage in their throat.
What causes cat laryngitis?
Cat laryngitis usually develops as a result of an infectious disease such as rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, or upper respiratory infections (cat cold or URI), but there is a handful of other conditions that can lead to your cat losing their voice including:
- Object lodged in the throat
- Inhaled irritants, such as smoke or dust
- Blockage in the larynx
- Eosinophilic granuloma complex
- Growth in the throat (benign, cancerous)
- Throat cancer
- Paralysis of laryngeal nerve
What are the most common cat laryngitis symptoms?
The types of laryngitis symptoms your cat develops will depend on the root cause but could include:
- Bad breath
- Changes in your cat's vocalizations
- Noisy breathing
- Dry, harsh cough that may be painful
- Increased effort to breathe
- High-pitched breathing
- Lowered head while standing
- Open mouth
- 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 such as:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Discharge from eyes
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
If you notice your cat exhibiting any of the above symptoms, you will need to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Sometimes when laryngitis is caused by a viral infection it can clear up on its own in a couple of days, but the underlying cause may be serious and might require veterinary attention.
It's important for you to know that cats can get sore throats, which could also cause difficulty breathing and an inability to eat. Both of these symptoms have to be addressed by a veterinarian immediately.
What is the typical cat laryngitis treatment?
The treatments used to treat your kitty's laryngitis will depend on the underlying cause.
If your vet finds a buildup of fluid in the larynx they may prescribe a diuretic. If your cat is showing signs of pain your vet might provide them with e a mild painkiller to help make them feel better.
In cases where a foreign body is lodged in your cat's throat, they might or might not require surgery to have the object removed, however, once the object is removed your feline companion will be able to meow again.
If your cat's loss of vocalizations has been caused by eosinophilic granuloma your kitty might be treated for parasites because this condition is often an exaggerated immune response to insect bites. Steroids or corticosteroids might also be prescribed for this condition.
A good way you can help your kitty 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 their face with 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.