As of yesterday, our cat has lost his voice. He used to have a full-throated meow; now he opens his mouth and offers only a crackling whisper. Could it be serious?
Data points:[ul][li]Last night and the night before, he woke me up in the middle of the night with a brief hacking sound. Didn’t sound like he was trying to choke up a hairball; it was more like a cat-sized version of a cough, lasting a few seconds (two or three hacks) and nothing more. This hasn’t happened at any other time, either: only at night.[/li]
[li]It’s been hot and dry here in Seattle for quite a while now, so dehydration may be a factor. We’ve got a fountain for water, and we keep it filled and fresh because he uses it a lot, but you never know when a cat might decide to be finicky and randomly change his tiny mind about something.[/li]
[li]This has never happened to him before. The raspy hissing non-meow is totally new; he’s never been afflicted with anything even remotely similar.[/li]
[li]My wife has had a minor upper-respiratory infection the last few days.[/li]
[li]The only change in his behavior is the lack of voice. He doesn’t seem to lack for energy, or appetite, or interest in playing, or whatever. He’s not sleeping more than usual, and he doesn’t have any obvious injuries, to throat or face or mouth or anywhere else. There’s no apparent tenderness or soreness, either; he just can’t meow.[/li]
[li]His ability to purr seems to be unaffected.[/li]
[li]He’s not an easily stressed cat. We can, for example, go out of town for days at a time (leaving him in the care of a housesitter) without causing problems with his behavior. We didn’t do that recently, though; I just use that as an example of his general tolerance of change in routine, and the unlikelihood that he’s freaking out because we’ve moved the couch four inches or whatever the way some cats do.[/ul]So: Any thoughts? In advance, I should say that if this hasn’t cleared up by tomorrow, we will be taking him to the vet, so no need for that recommendation (unless somebody knows something that indicates more urgency). I’ve also looked on the web for info (example), but didn’t find anything, so I’m taking advantage of the SDMB’s collective wisdom to see if anybody knows what this symptom might indicate.[/li]
P.S. Cat-haters, please keep your “jokes” to yourself.