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Old 08-14-2002, 05:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: underpants
Posts: 19,744
Is it bad when a cat apparently has laryngitis?

As of yesterday, our cat has lost his voice. He used to have a full-throated meow; now he opens his mouth and offers only a crackling whisper. Could it be serious?

Data points:
  • Last night and the night before, he woke me up in the middle of the night with a brief hacking sound. Didn't sound like he was trying to choke up a hairball; it was more like a cat-sized version of a cough, lasting a few seconds (two or three hacks) and nothing more. This hasn't happened at any other time, either: only at night.
  • It's been hot and dry here in Seattle for quite a while now, so dehydration may be a factor. We've got a fountain for water, and we keep it filled and fresh because he uses it a lot, but you never know when a cat might decide to be finicky and randomly change his tiny mind about something.
  • This has never happened to him before. The raspy hissing non-meow is totally new; he's never been afflicted with anything even remotely similar.
  • My wife has had a minor upper-respiratory infection the last few days.
  • The only change in his behavior is the lack of voice. He doesn't seem to lack for energy, or appetite, or interest in playing, or whatever. He's not sleeping more than usual, and he doesn't have any obvious injuries, to throat or face or mouth or anywhere else. There's no apparent tenderness or soreness, either; he just can't meow.
  • His ability to purr seems to be unaffected.
  • He's not an easily stressed cat. We can, for example, go out of town for days at a time (leaving him in the care of a housesitter) without causing problems with his behavior. We didn't do that recently, though; I just use that as an example of his general tolerance of change in routine, and the unlikelihood that he's freaking out because we've moved the couch four inches or whatever the way some cats do.
So: Any thoughts? In advance, I should say that if this hasn't cleared up by tomorrow, we will be taking him to the vet, so no need for that recommendation (unless somebody knows something that indicates more urgency). I've also looked on the web for info (example), but didn't find anything, so I'm taking advantage of the SDMB's collective wisdom to see if anybody knows what this symptom might indicate.

P.S. Cat-haters, please keep your "jokes" to yourself.
Old 08-14-2002, 06:18 PM
VOW VOW is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NE AZ
Posts: 2,390
Cats are vulnerable to upper respiratory infections, and it sounds like Kitty may very well have a bug. Fortunately, these infections respond to paying the vet in large sums of cash....I mean, antibiotics. One nice thing: vets now dispense the "pink bubblegum antibiotic liquid" that little kids get for ear infections. Trust me, a dropperful of that stuff is MUCH easier to administer than a pill!!!

Old 08-14-2002, 06:24 PM
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 13,398
We've got one cat that seems to have lost his hearing, another that has lost her voice. We're waiting for the third to complete the picture.

Anyhow. Momcat lost her voice more than a year ago. Odd - she opens her mouth, you can almost see the 'word balloon' meow, but nothing comes out.

However, she got stuck in an odd place one day, and managed to come up with quite the yowl.

don't know if this helps.
Old 08-14-2002, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Staten Island, NY
Posts: 256
Take him/her to the vet. She could possibly have feline bronchitis or asthma. The coughing up of the nonexistant hairball is something I dealt with and it turned out to be, much to my surprise, bronchitis (who knew?). If its asthma it could be an allergy, to cigarette smoke or air fresheners. My moms cat went through this until she stopped using one of those plug in air fresheners.
Old 08-15-2002, 05:52 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Central Va
Posts: 573
Kitty update:

He seems better, and his vocal ability is much restored. Enough so that he was able to pester me into filling his empty food bowl in the middle of the night.

It takes a lot to get me to move in the middle of the night, but he was (accoring to him) STARVING to DEATH and needed more crunchies NOW. My fault, for letting the bowl get empty, but geez what a pest.

We'll be keeping an eye on him, but it looks like he'll be just fine.
Old 08-15-2002, 08:40 PM
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Los Angeles (Brentwood)
Posts: 461
Glad to hear the kitty is doing better (I guessing it's OK to assume that Cervaise and herownself are referring to the same cat).

In the future, if you want a pet medical question answered by a veterinarian online (much like the SDMB but without the wisecracks), you can post questions at

I don't know if this was a respiratory infection (as VOW suggested), but unlike humans, in cats, IIRC, these respiratory infections are a permanent condition, but in mild cases symptoms only manifest when the cat get stressed or ill. Or something like that...
"For the snark was a boojum, you see"

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