There are days when I wished my cat understood the words “Shut up!” He can get really bossy and vocal when he wants something now.
After being together for more than a decade, he jolly well knows the type of sounds to make which can light a fire under my butt and get what he wants. He also does these really cute sounds that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Do you have a cat that squeaks or has a meow that sounds squeaky?
It is rather common for a cat to squeak as a form of vocalization at times. It isn’t something that should be a cause for concern. However, if your cat’s squeaky meow is accompanied by other symptoms such as wheezing, coughing or breathing difficulties, that could mean an underlying health issue.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the possible reasons that can cause your cat to squeak and what you should do about it.
How Do Cats Communicate?
Every animal species have its own form of communication and cats certainly have their own ‘cat language’.
We all know cats meow and that is due to them learning how to communicate with humans through the process of domestication.
Apparently, we are deemed to be too daft by our feline masters to fully understand what they are trying to tell us via body language and scent marking.
A meow sound can also be made to be similar to that of a crying baby which plays on our human emotions to help a baby in need.
An interesting fact is that you will almost never hear true feral cats meow as they aren’t properly socialized with humans and don’t see a need to communicate with us.
Many cats also communicate via physical contact and by leaving scent markers for other cats to sniff out the information.
Is It Normal For My Cat To Not Meow?
Every cat owner expects their cat to meow at some point because that is what a cat is supposed to sound like.
Well, yes and no.
Your cat’s meow is just one of the many types of vocalization patterns of cat sounds. A cat’s ability to generate close to 100 different sounds is truly remarkable when a dog only has 10.
Here are some of the other common cat sounds:
If you own a cat for long enough, chances are you will hear your cat make all these sounds at some point.
Every cat is unique and so is its voice.
A cat that doesn’t meow doesn’t make it less of a cat.
Why Does My Cat Sound Like A Squeaky Toy?
Even though squeaking can be part and parcel of being a cat, there can be times when your cat’s squeaking could be caused by other reasons.
1. Cat Cold
Just like humans, it is possible for your cat to catch a cold too.
Symptoms of a feline cold include:
- Nasal discharge
- Fever lethargy
When your cat’s respiratory system is affected by a cold, it can cause your cat to sound hoarse and cake it to make squeaky sounds instead of its usual meow.
The good thing is that in most cases, these symptoms will go away on their own after a week or so.
You just need to make sure your cat gets a lot of rest and good nutrition to recover quickly.
The most common causes of a cat cold are due to the Feline Herpesvirus and Feline Calicivirus.
The herpes virus in cats is similar to what is found in humans as well. Once your cat is a carrier, it will be a carrier for life. But as long as your cat’s immune system remains healthy, it can suppress the virus load from increasing.
Feline calicivirus has pretty much the same symptoms as feline herpesvirus and can go away with rest and care.
Both of these viruses are very contagious and tend to spread like wildfire in pet shelters and pet stores where cats live in close proximity.
2. Feline Asthma
It is said that 1% of domesticated cats in America suffer from feline asthma. Asthma is a condition whereby the cat’s air passageways constrict which makes it hard for the cat to breathe.
The majority of feline asthma is caused by allergens such as:
- Cigarette smoke
- Food allergies
- Dust from the cat litter
- Dust mites
Feline asthma can develop in both kittens and adult cats. Furthermore, the symptoms can only be managed but not cured.
The most common form of treatment is a corticosteroid drug to help keep the air passageways open during an asthma attack.
When a cat is having an asthma attack, the cat will start to show signs of breathing difficulties. It will also start to cough and wheeze loudly.
The constriction of the cat’s airways might make the usual cat meow sound more like a squeak.
It can be difficult for the vet to ascertain the exact trigger for feline asthma as there are so many possible causes.
It is more important to know if your cat’s asthma sits on which point of the severity scale.
Some cats have mild asthma which doesn’t pose a health risk while others will require medical attention during an attack.
Your cat has a thyroid gland that is located on the front of its neck. It has two separate lobes and resembles a butterfly.
The thyroid might be small in size but it is largely responsible for your cat’s metabolic functions by producing two types of thyroid hormones, T4 and T3.
There are two problems that your cat can have with its thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the cat’s thyroid isn’t producing enough of the thyroid hormones which can cause your cat’s metabolism to slow down.
This can cause your cat to lose weight, become lethargic and get cold easily.
Hyperthyroidism on the other hand is the direct opposite and is caused by a thyroid gland that’s too active.
This condition tends to appear more often in older cats with symptoms such as weight loss despite an increased appetite, drinking more than usual, tummy upset and restlessness.
The one thing that they both have in common is the ability to affect your cat’s vocal cords.
These health problems can cause a change in your cat’s vocal cords due to a change in pressure and inflammation.
This can make your cat’s meow appear hoarse and sound more like a squeak.
4. Birth Defect And Trauma
A cat’s voice box or larynx works in a similar fashion as that of a human’s. In order to make a sound, the cat has to pass air through the voice box and make it vibrate.
What makes the voice box of a cat unique is the presence of an additional membrane called the ventricular chords.
When kittens are born, their voice boxes aren’t as developed as an adult cat. This explains the higher-pitch squeaks which they make.
As they get older, their vocal cords mature and their voices will deepen.
It is possible for a cat to retain its squeaky meow all the way into its adult years due to a birth defect of the larynx.
This changes the way air flows through the voice box and alters the way the cat meows.
Cats that have been involved in a car accident or experienced trauma to their neck region can have a damaged larynx as well which changes the way they sound.
5. Post Surgery Side Effects
When your cat needs to go for surgery, the vet will have to sedate your cat with anesthetic agents to keep it still and numb the pain. A longish tube will also be inserted into your cat’s throat to help it breathe.
There are times when this tubing can irritate your cat’s throat and make your cat sound squeaky and congested after the procedure.
Should I Worry That My Cat Squeaks Instead Of Meowing?
It largely depends on how long has your cat been squeaking and whether are there other symptoms as well.
If your cat has always been a squeaker since you got it as a kitten, then that is pretty much your cat’s unique voice.
I wouldn’t worry too much about it as long as your cat is eating well and not behaving abnormally.
But if your cat is making squeaking sounds that are accompanied by coughing and labored breathing, that does seem like a respiratory issue.
It would be a good idea to take your cat to the vet for a full check-up to have the vet take a look at your cat’s throat and run a blood test.
Medical treatment might be required if the squeaking sound is caused by a health problem.
Why Does My Cat Squeak When I Pick It Up?
I know of some cats that make a squeaking sound when they are picked up. My own cat makes this weird ‘deflated’ sound when I carry him.
Some cat owners seem to think that the cat is making a sound of disapproval or is in pain.
When carrying a cat, make sure you do it the right way.
Truth be told, many cats don’t like to be carried because it makes them feel unbalanced.
There is more than one correct way to carry and hold a cat. I carry mine by lifting it up from under the armpits with one hand and supporting his butt with the other.
Why Is My Cat Squeaking In Its Sleep?
Another time when you can hear your cat squeaky is when it is sleeping.
A cat has two phases of sleep, a light phase and a deep sleep phase or rapid eye movement (REM).
When your cat is in deep sleep, it is possible for your cat to start dreaming of stuff. There’s no way of telling what your cat is dreaming about.
But if it’s making squeaky tiny thrills, it could be that your cat is chasing after birds and squirrels in dreamland.
Dogs do the same thing as well when they start dreaming.
The dreaming dog can start to whimper, whine and twitch.