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Dr. Jan
Dr. Jan, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 51
Experience:  15 years experience, 6 of those years in emergency & critical care practice
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My cat sounds like he squeeks when he swallows....

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My cat sounds like he squeeks when he swallows....

Hi there, can you describe what is happening a little more for me?

How old is your kitty?

Is he fully vaccinated?

Does he have noisy breathing? Snoring? Stuffed up nose? Sneezing?

Is there any discharge from the nostrils?

Any trouble swallowing his food or water?

Any vomiting?

Any other descriptive information you can provide may help me answer your question the best I can.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Dr Jan,


Baxter is a 6 year old persian cat, who is fully vaccinated. No discharge from the nostrils. He always snores, and he always has runny eyes (my previous vet says that is common in this breed), but nothing different than usual. He is eating and drinking, but is making the squeeking noise when he swallows that too. He is coughing a little, but it seems like he is trying to cough up a hairball; he does this 4- 5 times a day but nothing comes out. I gave him some hairball medicine last week and it didn't seem to help. By the way, I shave him like a lion so hairballs have never been an issue...


He still plays, eats, howls, and grooms like he regularly does, and he doesn't appear to have a fever. My vet says she can't see him for another week, and he doesn't appear to be in duress unless he swallows or coughs...


Is that enough information?

Thank you,

Arlene Monroe

Thanks for that additional info Arlene, very helpful.

Your vet is correct about the Persian breed tending to have runny eyes. Their flattened faces and large eyes tends to result in tears spilling over on to their fur instead of running down the ducts into their nose. The flattened face also can result in narrowed air passages through the nose and back of the throat, causing a pet to snore or breathe noisily, especially when relaxed or sleeping. Sometimes this can result in a squeaky noise, even when swallowing.


However, an airway "squeak" can also result from a "nasopharyngeal polyp", a benign smooth growth that can develop in the back of the throat, or grow down from the inner ear down in to the back of the throat. This is not necessarily a cancer (although cancers can also grow in those areas), they can sometimes be diagnosed by anesthetizing your kitty and closely examining the back of the throat, the back of the nasal passages and looking deep in to the ears for any abnormalities. The polyps can be removed by pulling them off at their base with a forceps, if they can be found. Sometimes they can be sneaky and very hard to find however.


Another cause of a squeaky noise associated with the respiratory tract can be feline asthma. In mild cases, a cat may not even look like they are having trouble breathing, but they tend to cough and some abnormal squeaks and wheezes can sometimes be heard with a stethoscope.

If he is able to eat and drink without it stimulating a lot of coughing and he otherwise looks perky and happy, then he can probably wait until your own veterinarian can see him. She may want to anesthetize him after she does her full physical exam, and examine the back of his throat, she may also suggest X-rays of the head, neck and chest. Best not to feed him the morning of his appointment so he will have an empty stomach.


If his coughing is steadily getting worse, or the squeak gets more high pitched, results in him making increased efforts to breathe, or he actually starts breathing with his mouth open........these are emergencies and you should consider asking your veterinarian to see him right away or take him to an emergency veterinary clinic.


I think the lion cut for Persians is always a great look! I hope this turns out to be nothing serious for him.

Best wishes,

Dr. Jan

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you very very much- I feel much better- I just have one more "scenario" that was brought to my attention that I wanted to run by you....My roommate planted an herb garden a couple of weeks ago, and just now, I found out that he has been eating the Texas this toxic and could this be the cause? I am sorry I didn't include it, but I was just "informed" by my roommate who says she feels guilty that I am so worried-

Hmmmm, there have been reports of gastrointestinal irritation (mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach etc) when cats have been exposed to certain herbal essential oils such as thyme. These are usually very concentrated formulations however, very strong, so it's not too surprising they are irritating. They are not usually "toxic" as in causing kidney or liver failure. I have trouble picturing that your kitty would nibble on something that was making his mouth sore, cats are usually fairly smart.........usually.


BUT, I don't think we can rule OUT that your kitty is getting throat irritation from nibbling on the thyme (sorry for your roommate's guilt!). Can we stop him from doing that? Keep him indoors? Stake out some very fine bird netting over the herb garden? Is he eating anything else weird out there? If we stop him nibbling the thyme, and the squeak goes away? Problem solved before you even get your veterinary appointment!

Take care,

Dr. Jan

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