Cat Sore Throat Symptoms & Treatment (10 Signs it’s Sore)

Has your cat been meowing or hissing so much and for so long recently? Is your cat sounding unusually hoarse when he meows at the moment? If yes to both of those questions, then it could be that your cat has a sore throat.

Just like humans, it is possible for our four-legged friends to have sore throats, and even get a bout of feline tonsillitis, although this condition is rare.

If you suspect that something’s not quite right with your cat’s vocal cords (or should we call them meowing cords?) then here are some signs your kitten might have sore throat. That’s followed by some suggested treatments and remedies.

cat looking and sitting

Cat sore throat symptoms

A sore throat could result from a range of different problems. It could be something stuck in your cat’s throat, a cut, feline tonsillitis, strep throat, parvo, distemper, herpes virus or laryngitis.

They all tend to have similar symptoms, so your cat could exhibit all, or a combination of the following signs of a sore throat.

1. Swallowing motions

Often the first sign that your cat has a sore throat will be him doing what appears to be trying to swallow something that isn’t there.

To your cat, the sore throat might feel like there’s something stuck there which they need to get rid of; and repeating swallowing is how they try to do that.

2. Coughing

Similar to the swallowing motion, another cat sore throat symptom will be coughing; because they think there’s something in their throat.

In fact, there could well be something in your cat’s throat making it sore such as a loose hair creating irritation, or a foreign object they’ve swallowed.

Handy Hint: Did you know that cats can sometimes pass foreign objects in 24 hours. But, if your cat has a sore throat, there might be something still stuck.

Alternatively, the reason they cough is because there’s a scratch or cut in their throat which will make it sore.

3. Gagging

Just like coughing, gagging is another possible symptom of a cat with a sore throat, typically due to foreign objects or irritations.

4. Fever

A throat infection can also cause fever like symptoms including shivering.

5. Licking of lips

Cats will often lick their lips due to oral discomfort or internal pain, such as a sore throat. Lip licking has also been said to be provide a calming effect to cats; they do it when they are anxious.

It could be that the pain of the sore throat is making your cat uncomfortable and nervous, leading to the licking motion.

The symptoms of lip licking will also go hand in hand with the next point, drooling.

6. Excessive drooling

When cats develop throat and sinus infections, they tend to drool a lot more than usual.

Lots of dribble can also indicate a problem with your cat’s saliva glands. They can become blocked and infected.

7. Swollen and red tonsils

Cats can get tonsillitis, and whilst it’s quite rare, when it does happen your cat will have a really sore throat.

Symptoms of tonsillitis in cats will include red and swollen tonsils, which you should see at the back of the throat.

8. Crying when they yawn or open their mouth

Another sore throat symptom can be where you cat is in pain when he opens his mouth. The stretching of the muscles can also make a sore throat twinge with more pain.

9. Not eating and/or not drinking

If your cat is really suffering, he will find it hard to swallow due to the pain. That means he will be reluctant to eat and drink, as it’s going to really hurt.

It might seem like a loss of appetite, but the reality is he just would rather go hungry than have pain from drinking and eating.

10. Lethargic

If your cat has an infection that’s causing the sore throat, his body will use up valuable energy to fight it off… and this can make your cat appear very lethargic.

He might not want to sleep more, not be as playful, won’t react to usual stimuli, and even look like he has dull eyes whilst he recovers from the sore throat.

cats sleeping

Cat sore throat treatments and remedies

It goes without saying, but if you see any of these cat sore throat symptoms in your own pet, please seek professional guidance from a vet. They will be able to ascertain the cause of the sore throat and offer the correct treatment or remedy.

The possible sore throat treatments could include:

  • Antibiotics to treat a throat infection.
  • Vaccinations if the sore throat is related to certain illnesses like cat shelter cough.
  • Investigate for any irritations or cuts in the throat.

Some pet owners will treat a hoarse sore throat in a cat with natural remedies. These can include sore throat remedies like:

  • Half a teaspoon of honey.
  • Coconut oil.
  • Herbal remedies.

Do not feed anything to your cat without first getting the go-ahead from a vet.


Cats get sore throats just like us, but the thing is; they don’t know how to tell us. It’s up to us to look for the signs and symptoms, just like you would with a child.