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Does my cat have laryngitis?

Laryngitis in your cat, like in people, means that your pet has lost their voice. In cats, this condition is caused by an inflammation of their throat and vocal cords and, most often, is a symptom of an underlying condition. Here, our North Asheville vets explain what you need to know about cat laryngitis, including: how to identify it, what may be causing it and its treatments.

Can a cat get laryngitis?

Yes, they can. Laryngitis is when your cat's larynx, also known as their voice box, becomes inflamed. This can be caused by any number of diseases. This condition is characterized by your cat's meow being much quieter than usual. It can even make it uncomfortable or painful for them to "speak."

Since some cats are more vocal than others depending on their personality and breed, this condition can be easy or quite difficult to detect depending on your unique companion. 

Cat Laryngitis Symptoms

Beyond a raspy and quiet meow, there are a wide variety of symptoms that can indicate your kitty is suffering from the effects of laryngitis. These can include:

  • Wheezing breaths and obvious difficulty inhaling
  • A harsh or dry cough
  • A runny nose
  • Noisy breathing
  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Their mouth hanging open
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Panting
  • Reduced activity or lethargy

The specific symptoms your cat will experience when they suffer from laryngitis will depend almost entirely on the condition they are experiencing which is causing the inflammation of their voice box. 

Laryngitis in cats can be serious if it leads to difficulty breathing and loss of appetite. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe respiratory issues and potential complications. If this is the case with your cat, be sure to contact your vet immediately.

Cat Laryngitis Causes

There are a number of different underlying causes which may be at the root of the inflammation around your cat's larynx, ranging from infections to disease and physical obstructions.  Some of the possible causes of laryngitis in cats can include:

  • Growth in the throat
  •  Paralysis of the laryngeal nerve
  • Inflammation or infection in your cat's chest
  • Inhaled irritants like dust or smoke
  • Hormonal deficiencies
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Physical obstructions in the larynx
  • Trauma
  • Cancer

Since the causes of this condition can be quite wide-ranging, it can actually be quite difficult for your veterinarians to pin down its exact cause unless it's pretty obvious.

Diagnosing Cat Laryngitis

Your veterinarian will start by completing a comprehensive physical examination of your cat to try and assess the underlying conditions which could potentially be causing your cat's laryngitis. 

After this, your vet will recommend diagnostic tests that are based on their suspicions about the root cause of this condition. Your vet may run tests ranging from x-rays and bloodwork to an endoscopy to check for physical obstructions or tumors.

Cat Laryngitis Treatments

After your cat's diagnosis, your vet will craft a treatment plan for them that is tailored to your feline friend's unique needs and situation. Depending on the severity of the condition, injury or disease that is causing your cat's laryngitis, the treatment process could last anywhere from a few days of rest to a course of antibiotics, steroids, diuretics or even invasive treatments like surgery. 

Your veterinarian will also give you detailed instructions on how to care for your cat once it returns home with you. This will vary depending on the underlying cause of laryngitis, but it will usually involve increasing the humidity in your cat's environment so that their throat does not become drier and more painful. You can accomplish this by running a humidifier or even hot water in a closed bathroom while your cat relaxes there. You could also help your cat breathe easier by wiping their nose with a damp cloth.

Your vet may also recommend dietary changes while your cat is recovering. In particular, it might be beneficial to switch your cat to eating wet food, since it isn't as hard on a sore throat as dry. Vitamin supplements may also be recommended to help boost your pet's immune system.

Recovery From Cat Laryngitis

After your cat has been diagnosed and the underlying cause of their condition has been identified, the prognosis for the vast majority of cases of laryngitis is quite good.

In cases where your cat's sore throat is caused by something more serious, such as tumors, serious obstructions, or cancer, prompt treatment is critical to helping your pet heal. If the cause is serious enough, and your cat is not diagnosed and treated promptly, they may never recover to their previous health.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your cat 'lost their meow?' Or are they starting to show some of the symptoms of laryngitis? Contact our Animal Hospital of North Asheville veterinary team for diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause of your cat's laryngitis

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