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My Cat’s Meow Is Weak & Raspy, Are They Alright? Vet-Approved Causes & Symptoms

Lorre Luther

By Lorre Luther

abbyssinian cat meowing

Vet approved

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats meow for all sorts of reasons: to indicate they’re hungry, to go outside, or for attention. If your cat’s vocalization has suddenly become weak, you might be wondering if your pet is ok. There can be several causes of feline laryngitis, but some are more concerning than others. The condition is rarely caused by respiratory infections (as it frequently is in humans), so as a general rule, if your cat is having trouble meowing, it’s time to call the veterinarian.1

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What Causes Cats To Have Trouble Meowing?

There are two general reasons why cats lose their ability to meow: something is inhibiting the vocal cord vibration, or there’s an issue with your cat’s vocal nerves.

Cats that eat plants or foreign objects, such as fish or chicken bones, may have difficulty meowing if something gets stuck in their throat. Abscesses caused by infections are also notorious for causing cats to lose their ability to vocalize. Other commonly seen causes include trauma and tumors. Cats that have been in cat fights sometimes suffer throat injuries that prevent their vocal cords from vibrating properly.

Other causes are primarily neurological and may be related to your kitty’s nerves and ability to transmit messages to and from the brain efficiently. Some cats with deep chest infections can have so much swelling they end up with pinched vocal cords. Autoimmune conditions that attack the nerves and muscles are other common neurological causes of feline vocal dysfunction.

cat meowing outdoor
Image Credit: irene857, Pixabay

Are Certain Causes More Common Than Others?

Most cats that have trouble vocalizing due to cancer or some other type of tumor tend to be a bit more mature: around 11 years old or older. However, problems can pop up anytime a cat has had surgery requiring intubation. Younger cats allowed to go outdoors are more likely to have trouble meowing due to trauma.

Are There Other Symptoms That Should Cause Me to Worry?

Yes! Other concerning symptoms commonly seen when a cat has a laryngeal disease (in addition to raspy vocalization) include trouble breathing, coughing, an elevated temperature, and panting. Many cats suffering from laryngeal disease also make a distinctive wheezing sound when breathing.

Tabby cat meows with its mouth open
Image Credit: Kaan Yetkin Toprak, Shutterstock

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What Can I Expect During the Visit to the Veterinarian?

Be prepared to tell the veterinarian precisely what you’ve observed, when these changes started, and if there was an event that could have precipitated the change. Your veterinarian will probably run blood and urine tests as part of the initial diagnostic work-up. They may also order x-rays, a bronchoscopy, or a laryngoscopy to obtain more information. Your vet will provide information about how to keep your cat comfortable while you’re waiting for a definitive diagnosis.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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