Just like in people, laryngitis in your cat means that your kitty has "lost their voice." In our feline friends, laryngitis is caused by inflammation of your cat's throat and vocal cord and is most often a symptom of an underlying condition. Here, our veterinary teams in Pickering and Ajax explain how to tell if your cat has laryngitis, what may be causing it and what treatments are available.
Laryngitis is the inflammation of your cat's larynx, also known as their voice box which can be caused by a wide range of conditions or diseases. And, just like in people, it causes your cat's meow to become quieter and potentially even makes it uncomfortable and painful for them to do so.
Some cats are more vocal than others depending on their breed and personality. So, depending on the cat, laryngitis may either be quite easy or difficult to detect.
Cat Laryngitis Symptoms
Beyond quieter or raspier vocalizations from your feline friend, there are several other symptoms that may indicate that your cat is suffering from laryngitis. These include:
- A harsh or dry cough
- A runny nose
- Noisy breathing
- Their mouth hanging open
- Wheezing breaths and obvious difficulty inhaling
- Bad breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Reduced activity or lethargy
The specific symptoms your cat experiences when suffering from laryngitis will often depend on the underlying condition which is causing the inflammation of their larynx.
Cat Laryngitis Causes
The underlying cause of inflammation in and around your cat's throat can range from infections and diseases to foreign objects—like a blade of grass—becoming lodged there. Possible causes of cat laryngitis can include:
- Inflammation or infection in your cat's chest
- Inhaled irritants like dust or smoke
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Hormonal deficiencies
- Physical obstructions in the larynx
- Paralysis of the laryngeal nerve
- Growth in the throat
Because the causes of this condition can be so wide-ranging, it can actually be somewhat difficult to pin down the precise cause if there isn't an obvious one.
Diagnosing Cat Laryngitis
In order to identify the underlying condition which is causing your cat's laryngitis, your vet will begin by conducting a comprehensive physical examination of your kitty.
After that, your vet will recommend diagnostic tests based on what they suspect may be the root cause of your cat's condition. These tests can range from an endoscopic examination of your cat's larynx to check for physical obstructions, tumors, inflammation, or foreign objects, to x-rays and bloodwork to detect any hormonal imbalance or thyroid issues that may be at the root of their laryngitis.
Cat Laryngitris Treatments
After diagnosing the underlying cause of your cat's laryngitis, your vet will create a treatment plan which is customized to your kitty's needs. Depending on the severity of the underlying disease, injury or condition, treatment for laryngitis can range from a couple of days of rest and some antibiotics to pain medications, diuretics, steroids, or more invasive treatments like surgery.
Your vet will also likely give you instructions for how you can care for your cat at home. This will often include increasing the humidity in your cat's environment so their throat doesn't become drier and more painful. You can accomplish this by either running a humidifier or running hot water in a closed bathroom as your cat hangs out there. Cleaning your pet's nose with a damp cloth will also help them breathe a bit easier.
Your vet may recommend dietary changes while your cat recovers too, including switching them to a wet food that isn't as hard on their sore throat and adding vitamin supplements to strengthen your feline friend's immune system.
Recovery From Cat Laryngitis
After your cat's condition has been diagnosed and the underlying cause identified, the prognosis for most cases of laryngitis is quite good.
However, if the cause of your pet's lost voice is more serious, like cancer, tumors or other obstructions, quick treatment is key to allowing your pet to recover. If the cause is serious enough and doesn't receive treatment early, your cat may never recover to their full health.