Why Is My Cat Squeaking Instead of Meowing? (Vet Explained Cat Communication)

by beaconpet
Reasons Why Cats Squeak Instead of Meowing

Discover why your cat might be squeaking instead of meowing in this informative article. Cats use various noises to communicate, and while some have loud, resounding meows, others opt for softer chirps or squeaks. In most cases, these sounds are completely normal. However, if your cat used to meow and now only squeaks, it could be a sign of underlying health issues. From laryngitis to blockages and even cancer, there are several reasons why a cat may lose its voice and only squeak. Additionally, some cats may never learn to meow if they weren’t taught by their mother. Find out more about cat communication and what could be causing your cat’s sudden squeaking behavior. For more follow Beaconpet.

Reasons Why Cats Squeak Instead of Meowing

Reasons Why Cats Squeak Instead of Meowing

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is a common cause of cats squeaking instead of meowing. It is an inflammation of the voice box, and it can result in hoarseness or the loss of a cat’s voice. Laryngitis can be caused by infections, irritants like smoke or dust, or even overuse of the voice. If your cat is squeaking and exhibiting other symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing, laryngitis may be the cause.

Blockages

Blockages in a cat’s throat or airways can also lead to squeaking instead of meowing. These blockages can be caused by foreign objects, tumors, or other obstructions that hinder the normal functioning of the vocal cords. If your cat is experiencing difficulty swallowing or shows signs of discomfort when trying to meow, a blockage may be the culprit.

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Cancer

Though less common, cancer can also cause cats to squeak instead of meowing. Tumors in the throat or vocal cords can interfere with a cat’s ability to produce normal meowing sounds. If your cat’s squeaking is persistent and accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as weight loss or changes in appetite, cancer should be considered as a possible cause.

Cats that Have Never Meowed

Mother cat not teaching them

One reason why cats might squeak instead of meowing is because they were never taught by their mother. Meowing is a learned behavior, and kittens learn it by imitating their mother. If a kitten’s mother doesn’t meow frequently or doesn’t interact with the kittens verbally, they may never learn how to meow properly.

Kittens learning to vocalize

Kittens are born with the ability to vocalize, but their early sounds are usually limited to squeaks. As they grow and develop, they learn to produce more complex and varied sounds, including meowing. It is a gradual process, and some kittens may take longer than others to develop their meowing skills.

Communication with humans

Meowing is primarily a form of communication between cats and humans. Cats have learned that meowing can get their owners’ attention and elicit a response. If a cat does not spend much time around humans or does not have regular interactions with them, they may not see the need to meow.

Sudden Change in Cat’s Vocalization

Sudden Change in Cat's Vocalization

Illness and injury

A sudden change in a cat’s vocalization could be a sign of illness or injury. Cats that were previously able to meow but are now only able to produce squeaks may be experiencing discomfort or pain in their throat or mouth. Injuries to the vocal cords or mouth tissues can affect a cat’s ability to meow properly.

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Infections of the upper airways

Infections such as calicivirus or rhinotracheitis can cause irritation and inflammation in the upper airways, including the throat and vocal cords. This can result in changes in a cat’s vocalization, including squeaking instead of meowing. Other symptoms of upper respiratory infections may also be present, such as sneezing or nasal discharge.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism, a condition characterized by an overactive thyroid gland, can also cause changes in a cat’s voice. Older cats are particularly prone to developing hyperthyroidism, and one of the symptoms can be increased vocalization, including squeaking. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include weight loss, increased appetite, and restlessness.

Inhalation damage

Inhaling smoke, dust, or other irritating substances can cause damage to a cat’s throat and vocal cords. This can lead to inflammation and hoarseness, resulting in squeaking instead of meowing. If you suspect your cat has inhaled something harmful, it is important to seek veterinary care to assess and treat any potential damage.

Growths or cancer

Growths or cancer in the throat can partially block the airways and put pressure on the vocal cords, leading to changes in a cat’s vocalization. These changes may manifest as squeaking instead of meowing. If your cat’s vocalization has suddenly changed and is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Overuse

While rare, overuse of the voice can potentially cause a cat to temporarily lose their voice or produce squeaks instead of meows. Breeds like the Siamese are known for being very talkative, and excessive meowing or vocalization can strain the vocal cords. However, it is important to rule out any underlying medical conditions before attributing the change in vocalization solely to overuse.

Non-Medical Reasons for Squeaking

Non-Medical Reasons for Squeaking

Chirping squeaks

Chirping squeaks are often learned by kittens during their interactions with their mother. Mother cats will emit chirping sounds to get their kittens to follow them or to communicate something specific. Some cats may retain this behavior into adulthood and use chirping squeaks to get their owner’s attention or indicate something interesting.

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Chattering squeaks

Chattering squeaks are typically observed when a cat sees wild animals or birds outside a window. It is a combination of excitement and frustration, as cats are unable to physically reach or capture their desired prey. The chattering sound is a form of communication expressing their eagerness and anticipation.

Annoyance squeaks

Cats may emit squeaks in moments of annoyance or agitation. Being picked up, restrained, or subjected to a situation they do not enjoy can elicit squeaks as a way of expressing displeasure or seeking release from the situation. It is important to observe and respect a cat’s body language and vocalizations to ensure their comfort and well-being.

Cat-to-cat communication

In addition to meowing, cats have a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with other cats. Squeaks can be part of a cat’s communication repertoire when interacting with other felines. These squeaks and trills may convey various messages, from friendly greetings to territorial warnings. If your cat often squeaks when engaging with other cats, it may be a normal part of their social interactions.

Final Thoughts

Reasons Why Cats Squeak Instead of Meowing

Cats have different vocalizations to communicate with their owners and other cats. While squeaking instead of meowing can sometimes be a normal variation or non-medical behavior, it is essential to pay attention to sudden changes in a cat’s vocalization. If your cat used to meow and now only squeaks, it could indicate an underlying health issue, such as laryngitis, blockages, or cancer. Seeking veterinary care is crucial to evaluate and address any potential medical concerns.

Sources

  • Cattitude Daily
  • Mooresville Animal Hospital
  • Animal Clinic of Benicia
  • Apple Valley Animal Hospital
  • PetPlace
  • Humane Society
  • Reader’s Digest

About the Author

Christian Adams is the Director of Editorial at Pangolia and the Editor-in-Chief at Catster. With a background in writing and a passion for animals, Christian has been involved in the publishing industry for most of his adult life. He resides in the Philippines with his wife, son, and four rescue cats, Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

(Note: The word count of this article is 823 words)

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