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Cat can't meow.

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic shorthair
Age: 8-11 years
This morning my 9-yr old female indoor cat, Ally, can't meow (she's always very vocal). I'm worried that there's something in her throat. I've asked our local vet what we can do to check this, and I haven't really gotten a response. What can I do?

Here's the rest of her conditions:

* took her to the vet about a year ago due to:

a) weight loss (12 lbs to 6 lbs in less than a year);

b) vomiting several times/day (all undigested dry cat food);

c) refusing to eat (vet suggested going from Iams hairball dry food to Hill's Science Diet a/d to get the weight back on. Also thought she may be allergic to chicken-based foods. Ally refuses to eat the a/d and has only gained 1 lb in 4-5 months);

d) has her hours of happy, run around crazy times; then she's quiet, complaining, and overall unhappy. But these always come and go, so we think she's getting better when she's her normal, happy self.

e) during this vomiting / refusing to eat phase (which she still does both), she suddenly began to twist her head to the side when she was trying to eat her food. It looked to me like she had something caught in her throat which (to me) looked like she was trying to dislodge when she was eating.

f) her eyes are watering more than usual

Of course there aren't any vet offices open on Saturdays / Sundays. My questions are:

1) Could this be something in her throat, or is there something else more logical that is going on?
2) Should we call the vet today and take her in, or should we keep her at home where she'll be more comfortable and take her in on Monday when the vet is open? (ie: should we wait until Monday?)

She isn't in distress right now, she's just laying down (but she looks very uncomfortable, like it hurts her to lay on either side), but she's calm and will rub up against me if I call her; and she still wants to be petted.

Thank you!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I can totally relate to Ally today as I have had laryngitis for 2 days! My staff gave me a reduced appointment schedule because I am having to whisper to all of my clients.

There are a number of possible reasons for a cat to lose their voice. Often it is hard for us to tell why this is happening.

I have seen cats get laryngitis because of an upper respiratory infection. This type of infection can cause discharge from the eyes as well. If this is what is happening then you may find over the next few days that she is starting to get stuffed up in her nose as well. I don't usually do too much for a cat with an upper respiratory tract infection as long as she is eating and acting relatively normal. But, if you are starting to see a green or yellow discharge from the eyes or nose or if she doesn't want to eat then she should be seen.

Another possibility is a condition called laryngeal paralysis. We don't know why this happens but the larynx can just suddenly stop working properly in some animals. This is much more common in dogs, especially labs. Although it can happen in cats, in 12 years of practice I have never seen it happen.

It's also possible that she has some sort of growth affecting her larynx. This growth could be a benign polyp, a cancerous tumor, or something called an eosinophilic granuloma complex. If there is a growth it's often difficult to diagnose because it is a hard area to visualize.

Cats can also just get laryngitis that can take a week or two to go away as well. We don't know the cause of this most of the time.

My gut instinct from what you have written is that she may have a mild upper respiratory virus and if this is the case she should have her voice back and be feeling better in a few days.

From what you have described I don't think you need to rush her in to emergency. But if any of the following happens then I would consider it:

-If she is really having trouble breathing.
-If you are seeing a green or yellow discharge.
-If your gut is just telling you that there is something serious going on.

I hope that helps. Feel free to respond if you have more questions for me. I am just leaving the office now and won't be home for another 45 minutes or so, but I can respond to you later if need be.

Dr. Marie.



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.