Laryngitis in Cats: Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, or voice box, in cats. It often causes a change in your cat’s meow or cough, from hoarse to no sound at all. The most common cause is an upper respiratory infection, but it can also be from irritation, trauma, or a tumor.
The two main causes of laryngitis in cats are:
- Infections: Respiratory infections like the feline herpesvirus or calicivirus are usually the culprit. These viruses cause inflammation of the throat, larynx and upper airways.
- Irritation or trauma: Excessive meowing or yowling, smoke inhalation, or a foreign object stuck in the throat can irritate the larynx. Rarely, trauma to the neck can also cause swelling and inflammation.
Other possible causes include:
- Tumors or cancer: Growths in the larynx or throat.
- Allergies: Inhaled allergens like pollen, dust or molds may trigger an inflammatory reaction.
- Autoimmune disease: Conditions where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues.
- Nerve or muscle disorders: Damage or disease affecting the laryngeal nerves or muscles.
The symptoms of feline laryngitis include: loss of meow or other vocal sounds; raspy, hoarse meowing; coughing; gagging; difficulty swallowing; loss of appetite; and in severe cases, respiratory distress. If your cat shows these signs, have your vet examine them right away. Laryngitis in cats is usually not life-threatening, but the underlying cause needs diagnosis and treatment. With care and medication, your talkative tabby will be back to chattering away in no time!
Causes of Laryngitis in Cats
Laryngitis in cats is inflammation of the larynx, also known as the voice box. It often leads to changes in your cat’s meowing or purring. There are a few common causes for laryngitis in felines:
Exposure to smoke, dust, or other airborne pollutants can irritate the throat and vocal cords, resulting in laryngitis. Make sure your cat’s environment is well-ventilated and free of potential irritants. You may need to use an air purifier.
Allergic reactions to things like pollen, mold, or pet dander can also trigger laryngitis in cats. Antihistamines or corticosteroids may help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. If allergies seem to be an ongoing problem, your vet may recommend allergy testing.
Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections of the upper respiratory tract are frequent causes of laryngitis in cats. Your vet can determine if there’s an infection and prescribe appropriate antibiotics if needed.
4. Gastroesophageal reflux
Stomach acid washing back up into the esophagus can sometimes reach the larynx, leading to laryngitis. Your vet may recommend dietary changes, antacids, or other medication to reduce excess stomach acid.
By determining the underlying cause of your cat’s laryngitis, you can get the right treatment to relieve their discomfort, reduce inflammation, and get their meow back to normal. With care, rest, and medication if needed, laryngitis in cats is usually not serious and will clear up within a week or so. But if symptoms persist or get worse, it’s best to have your vet examine them to be safe.
Symptoms of Laryngitis in Cats
Laryngitis in cats can cause discomfort and distress for your feline friend. Be on the lookout for these signs that may indicate laryngitis:
- Hoarse meowing or loss of meow. If your cat’s meow sounds raspy, strained, or is nonexistent, it could signal laryngitis or inflammation of the larynx.
- Coughing. Excessive coughing, especially coughing that produces mucus, can occur with laryngitis. The cough may sound hoarse or barking.
- Difficulty swallowing. Your cat may gag, choke or show reluctance to eat due to pain while swallowing. Offer soft, wet food and make sure your cat stays hydrated.
- Neck pain. Gently feel along your cat’s neck to check for any swelling, heat, or if your cat shows signs of discomfort when you touch their throat.
- Lethargy or lack of appetite. As with any illness, laryngitis can make your cat feel under the weather, causing decreased energy level or appetite.
It’s best to have your vet examine your cat if you notice any of these symptoms. They can properly diagnose laryngitis and determine the underlying cause, such as:
- Infection: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of the larynx. Antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Allergies: Inhaled allergens like pollen or dust can irritate the throat. Antihistamines or steroids may help reduce inflammation.
- Foreign object: Something stuck in the throat. The vet can remove the object and provide supportive care.
- Tumor: Although rare, a tumor of the larynx or throat can also cause laryngitis. Diagnostic tests like blood work, x-rays or endoscopy can determine if there are any abnormal growths present.
With treatment and supportive care, most cats recover well from laryngitis. Call your vet right away if symptoms become severe or your cat has trouble breathing. By monitoring your cat closely for these signs and getting prompt vet care when needed, you’ll have your talkative tabby back to meowing in no time!
Treating Laryngitis in Cats
If your cat is showing symptoms of laryngitis, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your vet. They will examine your cat’s throat and respiratory system to determine the underlying cause of the inflammation and the best course of treatment. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do at home to help relieve your cat’s discomfort.
1. Rest the Voice
Restrict your cat’s activity and talking as much as possible. Avoid rough play that may encourage vocalizing, and try to keep the environment calm and quiet. The less your cat meows or makes other sounds, the faster their larynx can heal.
2. Increase Humidity
Run a cool mist humidifier to keep moisture in the air, especially in the room where your cat sleeps. The added humidity will help soothe an irritated throat and loosen any congestion. You can also take your cat into the bathroom while you run a hot shower to provide a quick moisture boost.
3. Offer Extra Fluids
Gently encourage your cat to drink more water to avoid dehydration and keep their throat moist. You can also offer warm broths, which provide hydration as well as nutrients to support healing. Place multiple water bowls around the house within easy reach.
4. Throat Lozenges or Sprays (only under vet recommendation)
If recommended by your vet, certain over-the-counter throat lozenges, oral sprays or pastes formulated for cats may provide relief from discomfort and speed healing. These can reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and may have antiseptic properties. However, never give any medication to your cat without consulting your vet first.
With rest, humidity, hydration and vet-approved medications, most cats will start to improve within 3-5 days. While rare, see your vet right away if your cat’s symptoms seem to get worse or last more than a week to rule out any serious conditions. Your vet can provide further treatment like steroids or antibiotics if an infection is present. With proper care and treatment, your cat’s meow will be back before you know it!