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What are Laryngitis?

When vets explain laryngitis to cat owners, they tell them that the cat’s larynx or voice box has become inflamed as the result of illness, irritation, a blockage in the throat, or a sudden paralysis of the nerve controlling the laryngeal folds.

Laryngitis in cats may be one symptom of several illnesses such as calicivirus or infectious rhinotracheitis. When a cat develops laryngitis, it loses its meow for a few days. Pet owners may notice other symptoms, such as a cough, bad breath, or discharge coming from the cat’s eyes and nose. Even though the cat may try to hide signs of illness, it won’t be possible for very long. The cough can become painful. The cat’s owner may notice the loss of voice almost immediately, especially if the cat is normally communicative. 

Laryngitis Average Cost

From 325 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Laryngitis in Cats

Symptoms of laryngitis in a cat may make themselves evident fairly quickly, especially if the cat has developed an upper respiratory infection (URI). These symptoms may include:

  • Dry, harsh cough that becomes moist and painful
  • Lowered head while standing
  • Open mouth
  • Vocal changes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • High-pitched breathing and obvious efforts to inhale
  • Noisy breathing
  • Bad breath

If the laryngitis is the result of a URI, the pet owner may also notice:

  • Watery eyes with discharge
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of Laryngitis in Cats

The causes of laryngitis in cats can range widely from a simple URI or irritant all the way up to an obstruction in the larynx or even a growth that affects the movements of the vocal cords. This condition is vague enough that it can be difficult for vets to determine the exact cause of the cat’s lost voice:

  • URI (upper respiratory infection, calicivirus or infectious rhinotracheitis)
  • Inhaled irritant, such as smoke or dust
  • Obstruction in the larynx
  • Object lodged in the throat
  • Paralysis of laryngeal nerve
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Growth in the throat (benign, cancerous, or eosinophilic granuloma complex)
  • Throat cancer

Sometimes, cats lose their meows for unknown reasons. Here, pet owners need to watch their cats for other, more troubling symptoms. If the underlying cause is mild, the cat should have its voice back within a few days.

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Diagnosis of Laryngitis in Cats

When a cat comes into the vet’s office with laryngitis, the vet performs a head-to-tail physical on the cat. A significant part of the exam includes an endoscopic examination of the larynx, which means the cat will need to be anesthetized. During this part of the exam, the vet will attempt to insert an endotracheal tube down the cat’s throat to see if there’s an obstruction or mass that makes meowing difficult. 

If the vet does find an obstruction, they will take X-rays to see if they can find the mass. A swallowed object that has lodged itself near the vocal cords can also be spotted with an X-ray. 

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Treatment of Laryngitis in Cats

Once the vet has diagnosed laryngitis, as well as its cause, they will begin treating the cat’s symptoms. For a buildup of fluid in the larynx, the cat will take a diuretic medication. This can also help with any fluid buildup in the lungs, if this has contributed to the cat’s laryngitis.

When a cat has a sore throat along with laryngitis, it’s hard to swallow, much less  eat or drink. A mild pain medication can help the cat to swallow more easily, which means it will be able to eat and make a faster return to good health.

Foreign bodies stuck in the cat’s throat are removed, which allows the larynx to return to normal. When this happens, the cat will soon begin to meow audibly again.

Other obstructions, such as a significant swelling, tumor, or eosinophilic granuloma complex can be treated, leading to eventual recovery and a return of the cat’s voice.

When an eosinophilic granuloma forms, the cat’s immune system releases substances that should fight an invasion of parasites. These substances induce an allergic response, such as swelling and inflammation of the cat’s throat. A course of steroids allows the granuloma to disappear, unless it has become infected. In that case, the cat also needs antibiotic medication.

At home, the cat’s owner can increase the humidity inside with a humidifier, running hot water in a closed bathroom and keeping the house warm (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.). Cleaning the cat’s nose with a soft, damp washcloth helps it to breathe more easily.

Veterinarians may recommend diet changes or adding supplements to the cat’s food to strengthen its immune system and help fight viral illness. 

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Recovery of Laryngitis in Cats

Once the cause of the cat’s laryngitis has been identified, prescribed treatments and simple at-home care should allow it to return to full health. If the cat had a URI, once the symptoms have resolved, the cat should have a good recovery. 

If the cat has an obstruction caused by a tumor or eosinophilic granuloma complex, this needs to be treated immediately. A tumor can be cancerous and, if caught early, the cat should have a good prognosis. 

If the larynx is severely obstructed, immediate treatment is necessary so that the cat has a chance of recovery. If the cause of the obstruction isn’t detected and removed immediately, the cat may not recover.

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Laryngitis Average Cost

From 325 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Laryngitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Manx

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4.5 years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing Coughing Hoarse Voice

I noted my cat to be sneezing A LOT last night. It was more of a sneeze cough. He seemed lethargic in the morning but had fun playing outside. He is still eating some but not as much. The sneezing and coughing seemed to improve a lot during the day. And tonight we noticed he’s hoarse. He still is active but def not as much as usually. He does seem to have allergies on going that result in some sneezing here and there but this way more. He does get icky eye boogers too and red eye during allergy flare ups but doesn’t seem to rly have much of that now. I’ve not experienced this at all With cats

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, it is possible that he may have alleriges, or he may be reacting to a dusty environment. Since this does not seem to be resolving, it may be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, as he may need medications to help him get over this and feel better again. I hope that all goes well for him!

Aug. 6, 2020

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Domestic long hair

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1 yr

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Little Raspy, Gagging, Lost His Meow

We brought a kitten home a week ago and he was fine prior to that...a few days in and he wasn’t acting himself. The kitten doesn’t really have a meow herself unless she’s REALLY meowing. My boy started hiding a little bit..seemed sneezy..will gag here and there..he’s usually very vocal and hasn’t been BUT he has shown serious improvement each day..the last that fostered the kitten we brought home said we could give them both the broad spectrum antibiotics that she has on hand for her foster cats. I don’t know if I should give it to them or?

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I'm sorry your cat isn't feeling well. Sometimes kittens can carry diseases that they don't show signs for, and some cats will have viral infections that come up under a period of stress which a new kitten can be for your cat. I wouldn't recommend giving broad-spectrum antibiotics without really knowing what's going on, and I think it would probably be a good idea to have your veterinarian examine both your cat and the kitten to make sure that they are okay. If the kitten has not had a feline leukemia test, that may be a good idea. I hope that everything goes well for both of them!

July 26, 2020

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Long Haired Cat

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10 years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing, Hoarse Meow

The past couple of days my cat has been sneezing more than normal, and has been having these “sneeze attacks” every once in a while. I noticed this morning her voice was hoarse, and that went alway after she drank water. I’m scared she has a respiratory infection. I’ve been told I’m a “nervous nelly” when it comes to my cat so I don’t know If I’m over reacting. Should I call my vet? Thanks!

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, So sorry your cat is having issues. This could be an upper respiratory issue but could just be due to allergies. Your vet could examine your cat to make sure that there are no infections. If there is a green discharge coming from your cat's nose, it would be best to see a vet. If not you can give her a few days to see if it goes away. If she is ever not eating or drinking, it would be best to take her to a vet right away. I hope that your cat starts to feel better soon.

July 25, 2020

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Mixed breed

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Raspy Meow, Watery Eyes

Hello I’m concerned my cat has developed an upper respiratory infection. We just recently got a new kitten and she was fighting an eye infection, which is now cured, but I noticed he grooms her a lot and two days after we got her, his meow got very raspy and weak. He isn’t eating or drinking as much as usual, and isn’t his usual self in general. All of my local vets are taking appointments for 3-4 weeks away and i’m not sure if this is An emergency situation or if he just has a cold. Thank you for your time

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thanks for your question. Usually upper respiratory tract infections are viral, but sometimes a secondary bacterial component occurs. If your cats appetite continues to stay decreased or any of his symptoms worsen then at that point I do think you need to go to the emergency veterinarian. Reasons to head to the ER would include any issues breathing, decreased appetite for more than a couple of days, severe lethargy, or hiding behavior. I hope he feels better soon.

July 23, 2020

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Kitten

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4 months

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Has Symptoms

Vomiting And Raspy Meowing

symptoms started early this morning. kitten was throwing up light yellow vomit and food chunks. Later on he started vomiting orange and more food chunks. He had been refusing to eat for the majority of the day. His meowing became very raspy like he had lost his voice.

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Kittens can be affected by parasites or infectious diseases, and if your kitten is repeatedly vomiting, they would best to be seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine your kitten, see what might be going on, and get treatment for your kitchen so that they can get better. I hope that all goes well.

July 23, 2020

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Leeloo

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tabby

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Occasional Vomiting
Hoarse Voice
Gagging/Swallowing
Slightly Watery Eyes

Leeloo is an indoor/outdoor cat living in countryside environment. She was exposed to heavy rain 6 days ago. Her meow went raspy 4 days ago and began to lessen every day and now she barely can be heard. Since I first noticed her meow going hoarse, she has been trying to swallow something that comes up to her mouth. I am not sure if there is anything in her mouth but it looks like there might be some liquid (like saliva) and she swallows it. This has been happening since the first day I noticed her meow going hoarse. I saw her vomiting two times with some liquid. However, when she gags for vomiting, usually there is nothing comes out. She eats dry food but not much canned food. She drinks water. In the first day, I tried to give her treat biscuits in the first day but she didn't eat. Today she had two. Her eyes are slightly watery, her nose is dry but I don't think the temperature is too high. I don't let her go outdoors and except eating and drinking, she mostly sleeps and otherwise she wants to go outdoors and stand in front of the door. I am thinking of observing her a couple of days more and if nothing improves with her voice or swallowing action, I will take her a vet. Do you think this is a good idea or should I take her ASAP? Thanks in advance, Burak

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Tommy Meow

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grey tabby

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7 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Raspy Breathing
No Voice
Doesn'T Want To Be Touched

My cat can't meow. He just opens his mouth and no sound comes out. His eyes don't have much discharge in them. He is sleeping more often and his eating and drinking haven't change. His breathing has sounded a little raspy and he doesn't want to be touched. What should I do?

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Nemo

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Abyssinian

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Salivation
Wheezing
Licking Lips
Lost Meow
Swallowing
Loss Of Voice
No Voice

Hi there, does anybody have an update or conclusion? Our male 5-year old has had something puzzling for last week. Lots of excess saliva, licking lips (but not in the stressed-out way), spitting up clear froth with none of the convulsions or hacking that one associates with hairballs. No vomiting of food. Long periods of being withdrawn and in physical discomfort alternating with being more like himself. He's been eating, drinking, and toileting. The vet gave him a shot for nausea a few days ago, and he's stopped with the saliva since, but now had a sort of wheeze. Most worryingly, he's the most vocal cat in the world, and he hasn't said anything in the whole time. His purr has come back over the last few days as he's come back to himself more, but he doesn't talk anymore. A few days ago when I was taking him for his nausea shot, I thought he was retching in his cat box, but after a while I realized that he was actually trying (and failing) to miaow to me. Again, he's usually super-vocal when he's in the car, let's me know every few seconds that he hates it. We got a new kitten about 7-8 weeks ago and they get on GREAT, they play together loads, and when the adult has had enough he goes off. Not a stressful relationship, they search out each others company a lot, and cuddle. But some of the symptoms mentioned above seem to chime with his, and we do have a new kitten in the house (although its about 2 months rather than 2 weeks). I'm wondering if anybody has any kind of medical update from a vet? Thanks!

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Midnight and Sable

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Domestic long and short hair

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Hoarse Meow

So I brought in a pair of kittens about 2 1/2 weeks ago. Sisters from the same mother. They're both 10 1/2 weeks old now and my older cat is about 5 years old. One of the kittens came to us with a hoarse meow. She's quite vocal and very active and eats really well. Our older cat wasn't too pleased about her new sisters and was constantly hissing and grumbling at them. (She is still working on it but she is getting better) Now, the kitten with the hoarse meow still has the hoarse meow and is still active and loves eating and playing, but now my 5 year old cat is hoarse and less talkative. Nothing else has really changed in her except that shes getting closer to the kittens. Is it possible the one kitten came with something? The other kitten is perfectly healthy aside from being a tad thin even though she eats well. I should probably add that all are strictly indoor cats and never ever go outside and the kittens came from someone whose cats had kittens and needed to be homed. I'm fairly sure no worms or parasites are involved as I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary in the litter box.

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Teagan and punky

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Domestic shorthair

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lost Meow

This is wild! After I brought in a kitten my 2 older cats lost their meow! Not sick. Its so strange and also the outdoor stray we feed also? Somethings going on. I thought I would check if anyones cat has lost meow and then I bump into this forum! We need to stay on top of this!

Laryngitis Average Cost

From 325 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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