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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. 

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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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dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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14 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My cats voice sounds like it’s really raspy at the moment, it happened after he vomited. He is eating and drinking fine at the moment and bowel movements are normal. He seems as if he is struggling to swallow though.

Dec. 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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14 Recommendations

The struggling to swallow is a concern. There are a few possibilities such as laryngitis, an upper respiratory tract infection, a foreign body (such as a grass blade) etc. Given what you have said, it would be best to have him examined by a vet. He may well need medicine such as anti inflammatories. I would feed wet food rather than dry as it can be easier to swallow.

Dec. 13, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

cat

dog-age-icon

Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

No Meow

My cat abruptly lost her voice, without any other symptoms. She literally was fine this morning and within a couple hours. She still hasn't any other symptoms. I don't know what to do.

Dec. 12, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, SO sorry to hear that your cat is having issues. This could be an infection in her throat or injury keeping her from meowing. If she is coughing or not eating, it would be best for your vet to look at her and make sure everything is okay. If she is acting okay she may be just fine just not wanting to meow right now.

Dec. 12, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

four months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath, Tries To Meow But Nothing Comes Out

Do I need to take her to a vet. She was just fixed and examined by a vet and I've had her less then a week. Could stress of a new home or the tube in her throat from being fixed be the problem or could it be worse. She plays has no fever acts fine eats and drinks fine

Dec. 10, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, this could be all from the surgery but could be something more. It would be a best for your vet to examine your cat just to be for sure. Since she is eating and acting normal she should be able to wait until tomorrow when your vet is open again.

Dec. 10, 2020

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cat

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7 Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Cough& Raspy Meow

What can I do to help my cat. He's been going outside lately during this cold weather and now he has a easy meow and a cough

Nov. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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0 Recommendations

Couhhing is not normal, despite weather. Potential causes include a respiratory infection, asthma or lungworm. Your cat needs to see a vet so the most appropriate treatment can be prescribed.

Nov. 24, 2020

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domestic short hair or domestic brown Tiger

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Voice Change

He has No other symptoms and no signs of trauma, he's an indoor cat with no other animals in the house, He was fine Wednesday the 11th of November when we went on vacation and on Monday the 16th his meow sounded a bit hoarse.

Nov. 17, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for this reply. A voice change can have a few causes including polyps (non cancerous growths), laryngitis, an upper respiratory tract infection, cancer etc. It would be best to have him examined and he may well need some prescription medicine such as anti-inflammatories.

Nov. 17, 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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0 found helpful

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

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

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

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

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

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

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long and short hair

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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

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

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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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