Cats can lose their voice as easily as humans can lose theirs. Sometimes stubbornness may be the primary factor of feline vocal "problems," but some of the most common conditions behind these problems are due to laryngitis, upper respiratory diseases, feline immunodeficiency virus and oral cancer. With the proper care and attention, most conditions can be either treated or managed without forcing cats into life-threatening situations.
One of the most common contributors to loss of voice in cats is the inflammation of the vocal box, also known as laryngitis. Laryngitis can result from throat infections, tonsillitis, inhalant allergies and/or pulmonary disease. In other instances, laryngitis can also be induced by excessive strain of the vocals cords, such as when the cat gets upset or scared and mews or howls incessantly. Laryngitis in cats is easily treated with the proper medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
Upper Respiratory Diseases
The two most common upper respiratory viruses affecting cats are Rhinotracheitis (FVR) and Calicivirus (FCV). FVR, the more severe of the two, affects the nose, eyes, throat and sinus area, specifically affecting the breathing passage. FCV is a smaller strand of virus that affects the mouth, eyes and sometimes lungs of the cat. This disease can be contracted through both direct and indirect contact. Both FCV and FVR are treated with antibiotics prescribed by veterinarians. Both conditions are best treated through preventative care such as vaccinations and managed through proper cleaning and sanitizing of infected areas. Both viruses specifically target newborn kittens and can potentially be life-threatening if not treated and vaccinated properly.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), also call Feline Aids, often also exhibit signs of vocal strain. FIV is most commonly contracted through bite wounds and, by default, is mostly found in outdoor cats. Common symptoms, although not always apparent until much later in the life of a cat, are swollen glands and increased anxiety or aggression. FIV is also associated with conditions such as diarrhea, ulcers in the mouth, weight loss, skin disease and anemia. Unfortunately, the virus is currently not treatable; however, because the signs and symptoms mentioned above typically take years to develop into infections, cats can live long healthy lives. When the infections do start to develop, veterinarians can prescribe medications to control the symptoms.
Feline oral cancer, though not the most common feline cancer, is almost always fatal. Some easily detectable symptoms include difficulty eating including dropping food from the mouth, lack of appetite, lack of grooming, vocal strain, drooling and the swelling and bleeding of the mouth. Because these symptoms can also be attributed to other feline conditions such as upper respiratory infections, always bring your cat into a veterinarian when these symptoms exist. Oral cancer is usually diagnosed after careful examination and blood testing. If a tumor in the mouth exists, a biopsy will be done to determine if it is cancerous or malignant. If cancerous and depending on the size of the tumor, veterinarians will typically recommend a schedule of chemotherapy or a surgical procedure in which to remove the tumor.
If you suspect your once vocal cat to have uncommon vocal problems, always use cautionary methods and bring her into the veterinarian's office as soon as possible in order to treat any underlying causes including any of the aforementioned. In addition, as discussed, cats almost always lose their appetites or change their eating habits when in distress. Make sure to follow your veterinarian's nutritional instructions to ensure your cat is getting the proper nutrients when they aren't able to provide it for themselves.
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