Your cat has always been a talker, but lately, they don’t seem to meow nearly as much. This article will investigate why that is so you can determine if your cat has a health issue.
Here are some possible reasons your cat doesn’t meow:
- Polyps or tumors
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Upper respiratory infection
In this article, I’ll explore the above causes of your cat not meowing in much more detail. By the time you’re done reading, you can assess with your veterinarian what might be going on with your cat so they may possibly resume being vocal again.
7 Reasons Your Cat May Have Stopped Meowing
Polyps or Tumors
Although none of the above causes of a silent cat are good, let’s start with what many would agree is the most serious contributing factor: potential cancer.
Polyps, if you’re not familiar, are abnormal growths. They can be shaped like the stalks of mushrooms, or they could be bumpier.
The most common locations for polyps to grow in humans and pets alike are the throat, nose, stomach, cervix, and ear canal.
Polyps in the throat can develop if your cat is exposed to chemicals or has a throat injury. If your cat has nasopharyngeal polyps, they won’t be able to breathe clearly, so you might hear an upsetting snorting noise whenever they do breathe.
Oral squamous cell carcinoma can grow in the throat, tonsils, gums, or underneath the tongue. Older cats are likelier to develop these tumors than younger ones. The tumors can spread into the surrounding bone.
Feline throat cancer can cause symptoms such as louder breathing (often accompanied by more sounds), breathing with their mouth open, lack of stamina, voice changes, and no purring.
If you suspect either polyps or tumors in your cat, I recommend an emergency appointment with your vet ASAP. In both cases, surgery is the best treatment.
Like humans, a cat has a larynx in its throat that acts as its voice box. If the larynx becomes inflamed, that’s laryngitis. While that alone can cause your cat to stop vocalizing, in some cases, it’s a more serious issue.
For instance, laryngeal paralysis. This upper airway disorder is regarded as rare in felines, but rare doesn’t mean impossible.
Laryngeal paralysis prevents the larynx’s cartilage from opening when your cat takes a breath and closing when they release it.
Your four-legged friend may experience symptoms such as loud breathing, vocal changes, and a dry cough. That can make laryngeal paralysis hard to differentiate between throat polyps or tumors.
Your cat, if they exert themselves, will have more severe symptoms. They might also vomit when they try to eat, or they’ll regurgitate what they’re trying to consume. Eventually, they could collapse if active.
A cat can have laryngeal paralysis for a long time before these symptoms manifest. In some cases, it can be months, and in other cases, years.
I’d advise you to take your cat to the vet as soon as you spot any symptoms, as those symptoms will only get more serious with time.
Treatments for laryngeal paralysis include corticosteroids and/or tranquilizers for mild cases. Surgery, usually a tracheotomy, is best for more advanced cases of laryngeal paralysis in cats.
Has your cat recently gone quiet, but a vet examination proves they’re healthy as a fiddle? Then it’s time to look at what might be going on at home that could be contributing to their quietness.
Cats are generally creatures of habit. Once you establish a routine, breaking that routine can turn their worlds upside down. This can make them quieter than they once were.
For example, have you recently taken on a new job with different hours? Perhaps you were working the day shift before, but now you’re working the night shift.
Even though nothing else in your life has changed, what has occurred is significant enough to your cat that they could be stressed. You won’t hear those playful meows anymore.
Maybe you recently moved, introduced a new pet into the house, had a baby, or went through a change like a death in the family or a divorce.
Quietness is one sign of stress in cats, but it’s not the only one. Your kitty might also experience symptoms such as cat flu (with runny eyes and nose), over-grooming (and later, sores and bald patches), diarrhea, and vomiting.
How can you tell that it’s stress? Give your cat time. If a few weeks have passed and their symptoms are gradually getting better, then your lifestyle may have just stressed out your cat for a while.
However, if their symptoms persist several months after the change took place, then it’s more than likely something else that’s affecting your feline friend.
That’s right, pets can exhibit allergies too. Cats (and dogs, mind you) may experience allergies to many of the same triggers that get you itchy and sneezy.
Those include dust, mold, fungi, grass, and pollen. Cleaning products can trigger an allergy attack in your cat, as can exposure to perfume and/or cigarette smoke.
It could be what’s in your cat’s food bowl that makes them have an allergic reaction. From dairy to chicken, fish, and beef, cats can be allergic to it all.
A quiet cat can be suffering from allergies. Your cat will experience symptoms like coughing, postnasal drip, congestion, red and watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. These side effects make it awfully hard to meow or purr.
The above symptoms will only occur when your cat is exposed to an allergen. Depending on what the allergen is, exposure might be a daily thing or more sporadic, even seasonal.
Treating allergies usually entails administering a nasal steroid spray to your cat. If their symptoms are related to their diet, then your vet will recommend removing food ingredients one by one to narrow down the culprit(s).
You’ll then have to permanently modify your cat’s diet.
If your cat has gone uncharacteristically silent, it could also be due to a condition called hypothyroidism.
Your cat has a thyroid (like we do) that releases hormones to control its metabolic rate. If your cat has hypothyroidism, the thyroid becomes underactive.
This makes managing the cat’s metabolism more difficult, so your cat will likely gain weight. Other symptoms include reduced body temperature, weakness, lethargy, hair matting or hair loss, and cold intolerance.
Since these symptoms are rather unique, pinpointing a case of hypothyroidism should be easy enough for your cat’s veterinarian to do once you bring your pet in.
For mild or moderate hypothyroidism, your vet might not prescribe treatment. Instead, they may focus more on altering your cat’s diet so you can control their weight.
In more serious cases of hypothyroidism, your cat might require synthetic hormone supplements. Your vet would still recommend changing your cat’s diet as well.
Hypothyroidism is usually recoverable for cats, so don’t delay in getting your pet seen!
Upper Respiratory Infection
Is your kitty feeling under the weather? If they have an upper respiratory infection, that could explain why they’ve mysteriously gone quiet.
Feline upper respiratory infection is like a cold. The illness causes symptoms such as lethargy, reduced appetite, fever, runny and red eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Your cat might also have sores on the roof of its mouth, nose, or its lips and tongue.
If your cat came from a shelter before finding its furrever home with you, then exposure to other sick cats is usually a chief cause of a feline upper respiratory infection.
Should you have other cats in the house and one of your cats has a feline upper respiratory infection, you must quarantine the sick pet. The infection is spreadable to healthy cats even if those cats are domesticated.
Bring your sick kitty to the vet instead. Although your veterinarian usually has to allow the illness to run its course, it’s still good to get a positive diagnosis from an expert.
In some cases, a feline upper respiratory infection can lead to more serious complications. If your cat has diarrhea or vomiting for longer than 24 hours, they must see a vet immediately.
That’s true also if your cat has become unresponsive, isn’t breathing normally, has yellow or green discharge from their nose and/or eyes, or if they refuse to eat for more than 24 hours.
The last reason your cat might have stopped meowing is much less concerning: age.
Cats have never meowed to communicate with other felines. This is exclusively a cat-to-human interaction.
If your cat is the only pet in the house and you two don’t vocally interact all that much, then your cat might begin gradually meowing less and less.
In other instances, as they grow older, it becomes harder to do everyday things, and that can include making sounds.
In both these situations, there shouldn’t be anything particularly wrong with your cat, but a vet appointment is never a bad idea to rule out the other possibilities.