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Why Does My Cat Squeak Instead Of Meow? (Problem?)

If your cat is squeaking rather than meowing you may be wondering if this is normal, and why it is happening…

Why does my cat squeak instead of meow?

A cat may squeak, instead of meow for several reasons such as an infection, or vocal chord disease. But, sometimes it could just be a temporary sound while they develop into an adult cat from a kitten. If it’s the latter then it’s not a concern or problem.

So, now you know. But, could its squeak develop into a real meow later on? Could improper treatment cause this to happen? Do all cats meow? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Other reasons for a cat to squeak:

Apart from the other reasons mentioned earlier, some others can cause your cat to squeak in this manner. Here they are:

Damage to vocal cords from birth

One known cause for this squeaking is damage to the vocal cords. This can happen during your cat’s lifetime. Or, they could be born with it.

There seems to be a correlation between deafness or blindness. But, each case is different. And, if you fear this is the case for your cat, you will need to confirm this with your vet. They will need to check your cat and verify.

Underdeveloped vocal cords

As a cat gets older and matures its vocal cords are also expected to develop in line with this. But, in some cases, it does not happen as expected.

This is when you could have a cat with underdeveloped vocal cords. This could be several reasons including a poor diet. Again, only a vet could confirm if this is the reason for this.

Caused by injury

If your cat is injured it could affect its vocal cords, and in turn, its ability to meow. This could lead to the cat squeaking like this.

These injuries could be caused by several reasons such as your cat being involved in a fight, or being attacked by an aggressive local cat.

Lack of food

If you have a cat that is extremely hungry or thirsty, for example, a stray or feral cat, it could struggle to meow. The common issue in this situation is dehydration.

If this is happening it must be in a very bad way. And, until it is properly nourished it could struggle to regain its ability to meow the same as it did.

But, in this situation, this is not the most important issue. Getting food, water and healthy is the priority. Also, it will likely need medical attention from a vet.


You may, or may not know that the meow sound is not done by all cats. This is believed to be a learned sound for cats in direct contact with humans daily.

Therefore, if you have a feral cat, there is a chance that it will not meow at all. Therefore, in this situation, you may notice other sounds, that could include a squeak.

Is it normal for a cat to never meow?

It is normal for some cats to either meow very little or not at all. Especially if they are older cats. These older cats may gradually reduce their meowing with old age. And, in some cases, may stop doing it at all.

Generally speaking, cats do not tend to meow at each other, only at humans. And, as they age it can just naturally reduce. It is not clear why this is. It could be to reserve energy or just the way nature intended it.

Sometimes, if you do not give your cat the reason to develop its voice it may meow very little, or in some cases, not at all (but, more on this later).

Why is my kitten’s meow weak?

Why does my cat squeak instead of meow?

A cat looking up and meowing.

A kitten’s meow could appear to be weak for several reasons such as it is still developing and it will change. However, it could be an infection they are fighting off, or they may have had a traumatic experience, such as being trapped somewhere and needing to meow more than usual.

If it’s the latter, they could have strained their vocal cords and noticed it weaken, sound hoarse. But, by the way, a deep meow is something different (click here to see what that is).

Could a kitten’s squeak develop into a real meow?

A kitten with a squeaky meow could easily develop into a real meow as they get older. Some kittens take some time to develop their real sound as they mature. In some cases, it could take a year or two for them to fully establish their normal sound.

A kitten’s meow is generally higher-pitched than an adult cat anyway. So, even if it’s not squeaky you would expect that it will get deeper and change as they get older. Some kittens may do this quicker than others. For example, some could do it within a year, others could be a couple of years.

Could improper treatment of a cat cause it to squeak?

Improper treatment can cause a cat to squeak instead of meow. This can be because, incorrect treatment, such as being held badly, could affect their natural development. A classic example of this is letting children handle the cat, or kitten, unsupervised.

How can you avoid improper treatment?

Knowing that improper treatment can lead to these problems you may be interested to learn what you can do to avoid this happening, here are some things to avoid:

01. Monitor them with children

It is important to always monitor your children when handling your cat, or kitten. Kids do not generally mean to harm cats but they can easily underestimate their strength.

Also, sometimes it is not just the strength that is the issue. It can be the positioning of their hands. For example, an innocent child may attempt to hold the kitten’s kneck which could cause damage.

Another problem with this is the retaliation the cat may inflict if this happens. Meaning, that if your cat accidentally grabs the cat’s kneck, it could respond with a vicious bite, are you with me? So, best to avoid it.

02. Talk with them (build a bond)

Building a bond with your cat will help it feel loved and also make it appreciate that vocal communication is important. This will help kittens develop their meow sound naturally to help them communicate with you.

Later on, I will explain the benefit of talking to your cat in more detail. But, the general benefit is it will allow your cat to see the benefit of talking to you, with their meow, when they see you talk to them.

03. Play games with them

Another thing you can do, which goes hand in hand with number two above, is play with them. This will help them to bond and communicate with you more. Also, the more comfortable your cat is with you the better it is for your relationship.

Do cats squeak when they are excited?

Why is my old cat acting like a kitten?

An excited cat jumping up after its toy.

When your cat is excited it may make little squeaky sounds. This is more of a trill sound rather than an attempt at meowing. It is worth noting, that a trill si different from a meow. How? Well, it typically with its mouth closed and the sound originating from its vocal cords.

A meow, on the other hand, is with a cat’s mouth fully open and a clear attempt to communicate something. So, if you hear these squeaks during playtime don’t be alarmed. I mean, have you ever let out a weird sound while messing around with friends? Especially when you were younger? Exactly!

Is it possible for a cat not to meow?

It is possible for cats to never meow, or very little. Some cat owners have reported never hearing their cat meow before in years of having them, so it’s possible. Some have noticed very little meowing, such as only when they enter their home after being away for a long time.

It is easy to assume there is a problem if your cat has not meowed around you because it is very stereotypical of cats to do this. But, in reality, this may not happen. Also, the sound of the meow can vary a lot from cat to cat.

When should you be worried about your cat squeaking?

If you notice your cat squeaking while on the floor, and this is out of character. Or, if it is looking in distress then you should be concerned and look into it. It is better to get it checked out rather than assuming it will be fine.

This is because it is better to be overprotective rather than too relaxed and your cat has a legitimate problem that could have easily been resolved if you checked it out earlier. Some fear that they may be “bothering” their vet, but they are there to help, right?

Could talking to your cat stop it squeaking?

Talking to your cat could stop it from squeaking. This is in certain circumstances such as a kitten that is developing its vocal cords. If it seems that you enjoy communicating vocally, and are rewarded for doing so, it is more likely to work to develop its voice to the meow we know and love.

Be warned, it may not always be that easy. Some kittens still may take a long while to develop their voices even after you attempt to talk to them a lot. And, some prefer to communicate in other ways, such as running ahead of you (click here to see why they do this).

Why is my cat’s meow raspy and weak?

Your cat’s meow may be raspy and weak when it has overused its voice. Like us humans, this can exhaust us especially when they are meowing very loud over an extended period.

If you fear this is the case then it could be a temporary issue. But, it’s worth getting it checked out with your vet if it is not naturally clearing up after a couple of days to check it’s not a long-term issue that needs medical assistance.

Why is my cat trying to meow but can’t?

If your cat seems to be attempting to meow but can’t do it, it could be because it has a health issue. For example, this could be laryngitis.

If this is the case, it may struggle to meow for a few days. This condition is caused by inflammation in the throat. And, is a sign of another underlying health issue.

Why does my cat sound like a motor car?

If your cat sounds like a motor car it’s likely to be just purring. This is a good sign if it is because this is often associated with happiness.

For example, a cat may rub against you, while it is purring to show its love for you. However, purring does not always mean it’s happy, that is when it can get complicated.

Do cats naturally meow?

No. Cats do not naturally meow. This sound is a learned behavior. It is believed to be a cat’s way to communicate with us humans.

It is an audible sound for us humans. And, is a replacement for their other sounds, or squeaks that they may have used in the wild.

If you have ever come across a feral cat you may notice that it does not meow naturally for this reason.

How do you know if your cat’s squeak is a health issue?

To work out if your cat’s squeak is a health issue you need to look out for some signs. This can include loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, pooping outside of the litter box, hiding away, and acting aggressively.

Some of these signs are quite subtle. But, when it is paired with an obvious squeaky sound then it is worth getting your cat checked out with your vet.

Why do cats meow?

Cats meow as a way to communicate with us humans. They do not need this to communicate with other cats, even if you have seen this happening.

The theory is, that as cats became domesticated, they developed a way to get our attention and communicate their needs rather than making squeaking sounds.

Some other theories suggest that this meow sound is a cat’s attempt to sound like a baby. But, there is no hard evidence to support or deny it.

Why has my cat’s meow suddenly changed to a squeak?

If your cat’s meow has suddenly changed to a squeak it could be a temporary issue that could be corrected in days with some rest.

Some cat owners have reported that it took them a while, but their cat’s voice returned with time or antibiotics from their vets. If you have concerns it’s worth checking with your vet to be sure.

Can black cats meow normally?

Yes. Black cats can meow normally. The sound of a cat’s meow varies from cat to cat. And, is not governed by its fur color.

For example, one black cat could have a loud meow, while another may make squeaking sounds. So, it has to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Why has my cat’s meow become hoarse?

If your cat’s meow has become hoarse it could be a temporary issue because it has distressed its vocal cords. For example, excessive loud meowing.

However, if this continues for more than a couple of days, and it is out of character, it’s worth checking with your vet to check for any health issues.

Why is my cat meow high pitched?

A high-pitched meow could indicate that your cat is scared or has been hurt. On the opposite side, a low-pitched meow could be a sign of unhappiness.

It’s hard to say categorically because it depends on the situation and how your cat meows normally. But, if it appears to be higher than the norm, then it could well be a call for help.

Why do cats squeak when purring?

If your cat squeaks when purring it could be a sign of distress. However, if your cat is not neutered, it could also be linked to a mating call.

So, it depends on the situation. If it is related to distress, the chances are there will be other signs to confirm this such as its general behavior.

Why is my cat’s stomach squeaking?

If your cat’s stomach is squeaking it could be the sound of it digesting its food. As the food inside moves through the digestive stages it can cause gurgling or squawking sounds.

However, if there is any concern about these sounds it is worth consulting your vet to be sure.

Lindsey Browlingdon