My 7-year-old cat’s meow has changed, and now he sounds hoarse. Could you tell me why?
There are several possible reasons for your cat’s change in voice. Viral upper respiratory infections (herpes virus and/or calicivirus) are a common cause. In most cases, the cat will exhibit other signs of a respiratory infection, such as runny eyes, snotty nose and lots of sneezing. These viruses can cause laryngitis on occasion, and a hoarse or lost voice can be the result.
Less common causes include tumors involving the vocal cords or larynx and a condition called laryngeal paralysis, in which the nerve that controls the vocal folds becomes damaged, causing the larynx not to open properly, resulting in a change of voice.
Even though most cases are due to upper respiratory infections, which are fairly benign, a change in voice should be evaluated by your veterinarian. In most cases, a cause is never identified. However, your vet might want to sedate your cat to perform a detailed evaluation of the throat and vocal cords to make sure there are no masses or obstructions and to evaluate for laryngeal paralysis.