Cat?s Meow Sounds Strange

CatChannel veterinary expert, Arnold Plotnick, DVM, explains what could cause a cat?s voice to change.

By Arnold Plotnick, DVM | Posted: July 25, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Q: My 7-year-old cat's meow has changed, and now he sounds hoarse. Could you tell me why?

A: There are several possible reasons for your cat’s change in voice. Viral upper respiratory infections (herpes virus and/or calicivirus) are a common cause. In most cases, the cat will exhibit other signs of a respiratory infection, such as runny eyes, snotty nose and lots of sneezing. These viruses can cause laryngitis on occasion, and a hoarse or lost voice can be the result.

Less common causes include tumors involving the vocal cords or larynx and a condition called laryngeal paralysis, in which the nerve that controls the vocal folds becomes damaged, causing the larynx not to open properly, resulting in a change of voice.

Even though most cases are due to upper respiratory infections, which are fairly benign, a change in voice should be evaluated by your veterinarian. In most cases, a cause is never identified. However, your vet might want to sedate your cat to perform a detailed evaluation of the throat and vocal cords to make sure there are no masses or obstructions and to evaluate for laryngeal paralysis.

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Reader Comments

Donna    Schuylkill Haven, PA

6/14/2015 5:34:48 AM

My 3 year old male has always been very vocal. I took in a stray kitten 2 weeks ago, and my male made different vocalizations in his meow while playing with the kitten (the kitten had slight upper respiratory sneeze and conjunctivitis, my male has only sneezed a few times)my males normal meow has changed and is this due to him changing the way he meowed around the kitten?

CatChannel Editor    Irvine, CA

9/9/2013 8:30:05 AM

Julie -- We always recommend visiting the vet for these situations. The article above states that it could be a simple upper respiratory infection which can be treated. If your cat is reluctant to go to the vet or you have financial limitations, explain this to your vet when you make your appointment. They might be able to accommodate your needs.

Julie    Calgary, AL

9/7/2013 10:55:00 AM

I have an older cat that went from meowing to talk to us, to having the worst time making a sound!.What can I do to help this situation ? With out bring her to the vets?.

CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

6/19/2012 9:53:09 AM

Hi Jeanette -- Please look for a vet's office that is open near you. a vet is the only person who can truly tell you what is going on with your cat's voice. Good luck

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