Skip to main content

4 serious reasons why your cat doesn’t meow (and what to do)

Cats communicate with humans by meowing, and chances are you’ve already learned to recognize what each of your cat’s meows means. But if your cat stops meowing, it might indicate a problem. Some causes of this odd change are normal and harmless, and some will even resolve with a little time. But there are also potential causes that can be much more serious, and it’s important to get your vet involved early on to help get your cat healthy. If you’re wondering “why doesn’t my cat meow?” then you’ll want to get to the bottom of the issue to determine whether your cat needs some additional help.

Grey cat looking up and meowing

Emotional upset

If you’re thinking that “my cat doesn’t meow,” it might just be because he’s new to your home. Depending on what’s going on in your cat’s life, he might stop meowing because he’s stressed or upset. If your cat is experiencing significant change, like having just moved into a new home, he may be trying to stay quiet and fly under the radar because of fear. The same is true if you’ve recently brought a new pet into your home. Your cat may be trying to avoid the new pet and any resulting fights that could occur if he meows and makes noise.

Related Videos

If you suspect that your cat has stopped meowing because he’s upset, then it’s important to find ways to support him through this time. He’s letting you know that something’s wrong, and you may need to make some changes to help him. That might mean giving your cat his own secure space in the house where other pets can’t go or using pheromones to help promote a calm outlook during highly stressful times. Once your cat feels better and more confident, he’ll probably be back to his regular vocal self.

Recent stresses

If your cat has recently stressed his vocal cords, he might not meow for a few days. This might be the case if your cat was recently vocalizing at neighborhood cats through the window for a long period. He may have simply strained his vocal cords, but he should recover pretty quickly.

It’s also possible that your cat’s recent surgery could have aggravated his vocal cords. Vets insert a tube through a cat’s throat to ensure that it receives plenty of oxygen while it’s anesthetized. Sometimes this tube can irritate the throat and lead to inflammation, and your cat essentially loses his voice for a few days.


Some illnesses can also cause your cat to stop meowing. Upper respiratory infections could cause laryngitis in cats, though this is somewhat uncommon. In addition to the loss of his meow, you might notice that your cat is coughing and sneezing, or he might lose his appetite.

Allergies can also cause wheezing and sneezing and may reduce or stop your cat’s meowing.

If you suspect that your cat is sick, schedule an appointment with your vet right away. With treatment, your cat will usually start meowing again once he’s feeling better.

Bengal cat lying down, looking at the camera

Injuries and other physical issues

Sometimes your cat may injure his throat or voice box. If he got a stick or piece of a toy stuck in his throat, this could have caused nerve damage and other irritation.

Older cats sometimes experience a condition called laryngeal paralysis — their voice box stops working correctly. This issue can prevent your cat from being able to meow, but it’s not painful.

If your cat loses the ability to meow, a tumor or growth could also be to blame. If a tumor occurs near your cat’s voice box or in his throat, it may stop his meow altogether or change it significantly.

In some cases, your cat’s loss of his meow is completely harmless. It can occur as he ages, or he might have just temporarily irritated his vocal cords and that meow might return in a few days, good as new. But there can be other causes behind this issue that are much more serious and that require veterinary attention. If your cat suddenly loses the ability to meow, it’s always a good idea to schedule a vet appointment, just in case. Your vet can give your cat a thorough examination and verify that there isn’t anything more serious going on that needs additional attention.

Editors' Recommendations

Bengal cats: What to know about these quirky descendants of Asian leopards
Bengal cat breed facts that may surprise you
A Bengal cat lies on a white floor and bathes their forelimb

With their striking rosette coats and low-maintenance grooming needs, Bengal cats are already one of the most desired breeds in the world. Once known as Safari cats, the breed went through a name change in the 1970s to reflect its fascinating heritage. But what is living like a Bengal cat actually like? Are they as feisty as their Asian leopard ancestors?
We'll explore the Bengal cat's personality in depth, covering everything from a brief look into their history, the most common Bengal personality traits, and any breed-specific requirements that may hinder your quest to adopt one of these lovely cats.

Bengal cat history
While some cat breeds, such as the Egyptian Mau, can trace their lineage as far back as 10,000 B.C.E., the Bengal cat is a relative newcomer on the scene. The Bengal cat was first bred deliberately in California in the 1980s, after cat breeder Jean Mill crossed a domestic shorthair (a black tomcat) with an Asian leopard cat. Asian leopard cats, a breed of dainty wildcats hailing from Southeast Asia, are also known as Felis bengalensis -- hence the aforementioned name change from Safari cat to "Bengal cat," -- a nod to this hybrid breed's wild ancestor.
However, there may be another reason for the switch that led to the newly dubbed Bengal cat. When the breed's name was changed in 1974, the man responsible was named William "Bill" Engler -- B. Engler. Some believe he drew inspiration from his own name.

Read more
Can cats suffer from mental health conditions the way dogs can?
What you need to know about your cat's mental health
A blue-eyed white cat sprawls out on top of a rug with a forlorn expression

As it turns out, man's best friend has quite a lot in common with humans. Just like us, dogs can suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year." With such staggering numbers, it's easy to understand why the self-help industry is booming. But what about cats? Are our feline family members similarly affected by mental health issues?
While dogs are typically more expressive regarding their moods, cats can be more difficult to read. A dog suffering from depression may refuse to play with his favorite toy, but what behaviors can you expect from your feline friend? Do cats suffer from depression and anxiety the way some dogs do? We'll take a deep dive into the world of cat mental health, so we can answer the question once and for all.

Can cats have mental illnesses?
In her 2014 book "Animal Madness," Dr. Laurel Braitman writes, "There is not a branch of veterinary science, ethology (the science of animal behavior), neuroscience, or wildlife ecology dedicated to investigating whether animals can be mentally ill." While we can't read our cat's mind, we can use their typical behavior to gauge sudden personality changes that might ring a few alarm bells.
Two commonly diagnosed mental issues in cats are obsessive-compulsive disorder -- often abbreviated as OCD -- and cat anxiety. In cases of OCD, you may notice your cat excessively grooming the same location on her body, which can lead to redness, swelling, skin irritation, and even hair loss. However, excessive grooming is also a symptom of anxiety, though anxiety is often accompanied by additional concerning behaviors, such as decreased appetite, incessant yowling, and even drooling.
Details are scant regarding exactly how many cats suffer from mental health issues, but the fact remains that your frisky feline can be affected by OCD, anxiety, or depression. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that cats can even have autism.

Read more
Is chocolate toxic for cats like it is for dogs?
We know chocolate is toxic to dogs, but is it safe for your cat?
Cat sitting and eating a treat

If you've ever searched for a list of foods toxic to dogs, then you already know allowing your furry best friend to ingest a chocolate bar can have tragic consequences. But is chocolate bad for cats? Although your feline fur baby is much less likely to scarf down a slab of chocolate cake while you have your back turned, chocolate poisoning does occur in cats, too, and it can have equally life-threatening consequences.

Keeping your cat safe is your top priority, which makes knowing the symptoms of chocolate ingestion vitally important. Knowing the proper steps to take in case your cat eats foods she shouldn't might just save her life. Here's what you should know.

Read more