Why Doesn’t My Cat Meow?

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Curious cat cautiously exploring a staircase. The image portrays the feline's inquisitive nature as it navigates the steps.

Some cats are loud and vocal, while other cats are quiet and timid. Every cat is different, and that’s perfectly ok. But what if your cat doesn’t ever meow? Is that normal? Well, it depends.

If your cat isn’t meowing, this may be down to their personality or breed, or it could be due to a medical condition. In this article, we’ll discuss what could cause a lack of meowing.

Quick Overview


Some cats are naturally quieter than others. If your cat has always been quiet, not meowing is perfectly normal.


If your cat has suddenly stopped meowing, see a vet. Suddenly stopping meowing may be caused by issues arising in the larynx (voice box), and it could point to other health issues as well.


Most cats who don't meow will vocalize in other ways, including purrs, trills, chirps, and other sounds.

Not Meowing – Now Or Never?

First of all, we need to know—is it a new or old problem that you’ve noticed? Has your cat always been quiet, or did they used to meow and now suddenly don’t? This is important to know before we start discussing causes.

If it’s a new problem, and your cat used to meow, it could indicate an illness. In this case, you’d need to visit a veterinarian to have your cat examined and checked for underlying disease.

However, if your cat has been like this for as long as you can remember, then it isn’t an urgent issue. In fact, some pet parents have never heard their cat meow!

Why Have I Never Heard My Cat Meow?

If you’ve never heard your cat meow, please don’t be alarmed. This doesn’t mean that anything is necessarily wrong. Some cats are naturally more quiet and don’t feel the need to vocalize. Maybe they purr or chirrup instead? There are several types of cat vocalizations and meowing might not be in their preferred vocabulary.

Either way, if your feline friend doesn’t meow and has been like this since you can remember, don’t worry. It’s likely due to their personality and they’re just less vocal than other cats. If they seem happy and healthy otherwise there’s no need to worry about their lack of meowing.

My Cat Used To Meow And Now Doesn’t

Energetic cat with tail swishing in motion.

Like any sudden change, no longer meowing can be a sign of illness.

If your cat used to meow and now suddenly doesn’t, then there could be an underlying medical problem. Or you might notice that they’re still meowing but the meow sounds different. Almost as if their voice has changed. When investigating this issue, it’s important to note if your cat is showing other symptoms such as (but not limited to);

There are many conditions that could suddenly stop your cat from meowing or change the sound of their meow. We’ll discuss these further now.

Reasons Why Your Cat Has Suddenly Stopped Meowing

1. Stress

If your cat is suddenly quiet and not vocalizing as much, stress could be causing it. Stress can hugely affect cat behavior. Stress can cause certain cats to become withdrawn and quiet. They might not interact with their owners as much, and they’re less likely to try and seek attention by vocalizing.

Stressors include anything like a new baby in the house, new cat, house move, or even a person visiting for a few days. Cats particularly don’t like if their litter boxes, beds, and other special items are moved around, and this can stress them out a lot.

If your cat isn’t meowing anymore, check for anything that could be causing them stress. For example, if you notice your cat and a new cat in the household fighting or blocking each other’s paths, then you know that there’s some inter-cat conflict going on. This is a very possible cause of stress and could be the issue.

2. Upper Respiratory Infection Or Virus

Upper respiratory tract infections (URI) or viruses (most commonly cat flu – herpesvirus and calicivirus) can cause a lot of inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. This can cause your cat’s meow to change (become hoarse) or they might stop meowing altogether and lose their voice. You’ll likely notice other symptoms such as; sneezing, eye or nasal discharge (runny nose), and some lethargy.

3. Laryngeal Issues

Attentive cat with a single ear raised, displaying curiosity. The image captures the feline's alert posture and keen interest.

Issues affecting the larynx and windpipe can cause your cat to stop meowing. Your cat’s voice may also change, turning hoarse and rough.

The larynx is opening to the trachea/windpipe in cats and it prevents aspiration of food into the lungs. It’s also known as the cat’s voice box. If the larynx isn’t working properly, you might hear hoarse meows from your cat or they might not be meowing at all.

The larynx can have issues such as inflammation (laryngitis), laryngeal paralysis, and cancer. The first cause (inflammation) is by far the most common cause of laryngeal issues in cats that I see in practice.  Thankfully, paralysis and cancer are less common.

4. Cancer

Unfortunately, cancer is on this list, but thankfully, it’s a less common cause. Cancer can manifest in many ways, including tumors of the upper respiratory tract. Any growths or masses in this area can change the sound of our cat’s meow and even cause them to stop meowing entirely. This cause would be more likely in an older cat that has suddenly stopped meowing.

5. Lethargy

If your cat has suddenly stopped meowing and is quieter in general, it could have a health problem making them feel unwell.

Cats that are lethargic and feeling unwell, may be less inclined to vocalize. They could have underlying issues such as; chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid).

Things You Can Do At Home

Wide-eyed cat in a state of surprise or alertness.

If you’ve noticed that your cat has suddenly stopped meowing, there are a few things you can do at home to help.

If your cat has suddenly stopped meowing there are a few things that we cat owners can do at home. Firstly, monitor for other symptoms such as; decreased appetite, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, sneezing, increased drinking, or lethargy.

If your cat is displaying these symptoms, it could mean that they’re unwell and need veterinary treatment so it’s important to know.

Stress may make your cat quieter than usual and even stop meowing. If you think your cat is stressed try to find the cause of the stress and make changes in the house. For example, if a new cat in the house is the cause of the stress make sure that there are enough resources for each cat.

Resources include beds, hiding areas, litter boxes, food and water stations, and scratching posts. Plugging in a synthetic pheromone (Feliway) diffuser will also help to decrease anxiety.

When Should You Visit Your Vet?

Cats that are happy and healthy and have never meowed don’t need any treatment. Some cats are naturally quieter and less vocal than others.

However, if your cat has suddenly stopped meowing you should visit your veterinarian. They’ll need to examine your cat and may do some blood and urine testing. Diagnostic imaging (x-rays, CT) may also need to be performed to rule out growths.


Captivating Scottish Fold cat showcasing its unique folded ears.

Every cat has a different personality, so a quiet cat is not cause for concern. However, if your cat has suddenly lost their meow, or if their voice has changed, it’s time to talk to a vet to rule out illnesses, including infection, cancer, or other conditions.

Some cats are less vocal than others and rarely (if ever) meow. This is perfectly normal as long as they seem to be otherwise healthy. However if your cat used to meow and has suddenly stopped, this needs investigating. They could be suffering from stress, inflammation, infection, or even cancer.

Visit your veterinarian if your cat has suddenly stopped meowing and especially if they have other symptoms.

Also Read: 7 Common Cat Vocalizations And What They Mean

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be worried if my cat stops meowing?

Some cats never meow and this is normal. If your cat has suddenly stopped meowing then you should schedule a visit with your vet to check them over.

Why would a cat stop meowing?

There are many reasons why a cat may stop meowing. These include stress, inflammation, infection and cancer.

Why is my cat quiet all of a sudden?

If your cat is suddenly quiet and less vocal, it could be a sign of many things. They could be stressed or unwell. You should book a visit with your vet.

Why is my cat acting weird and not meowing?

They might be feeling unwell, stressed or have an issue with their larynx (voice box).

Can cats lose their meows?

Cats can lose their meows if they have an issue with their larynx (voice box). This includes inflammation, infection or tumors. They may also be stressed. Schedule a check up with your veterinarian.

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About Dr. Aisling O'Keeffe MVB CertSAM ISFMAdvCertFB MRCVS

Aisling qualified from University College Dublin as a veterinarian in 2015 and went on to work in a mixture of small animal hospitals here and in the UK, including a cat-only veterinary clinic where she currently works. She has completed a postgraduate certificate in Small Animal Medicine and the International Society of Feline Medicine's postgraduate certificate in Advanced Feline Behaviour. She wrote a children's book called 'Minding Mittens', which aims to educate children on cat behaviour and care. Aisling featured on the RTE tv series 'Cat Hospital'. She is a Fear Free certified vet, which aims to make vet visits as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. In her spare time, she enjoys looking after her pets, which includes 4 felines.