A cat will gag for many reasons. It commonly occurs with hairballs, but serious conditions like inflammation or infections can also cause a cat to gag. If you believe there is a medical problem, see your veterinarian for proper treatment.
Why Do Cats Gag When Hearing a Comb
Cats gag at the sound of a comb because they have a sensitive and robust sense of hearing. Their keen sense of hearing helps them when they hunt. It allows them to hear if there is prey or predators close by. When a cat hears a sound from a comb, it reacts. Cats are sensitive to sounds — continue reading.
Feline audiogenic reflex seizures are a type of recently discovered epilepsy in cats. It is common in older cats and caused by high-pitched sounds or loud noises.
Losing the sense of hearing is part of getting older, and typically, the ability to hear lower-pitched sounds is lost first. That is why high-pitched sounds are more startling to cats.
The sounds that trigger seizures will vary between individual cats, with a huge variety of different sounds considered triggers. Some of the more common ones included:
- The crinkling tin foil
- Metal spoon clanging in a ceramic bowl
- The tapping of glass
- Crinkling of plastic or paper bags
- Using a mouse
- Typing on a keyboard
- The clinking of keys or coins
- Hammering a nail
- The clicking of a human’s tongue
What Does It Mean When Cats Gag
This gag reflex is driven by inflammation or lots of irritation in the bronchi or trachea, related to various mild to severe conditions. Similarly, a reflex causes a cat to gag when it is removing an irritant from its larynx.
A cat will gag if something touches his larynx. It is followed by swallowing and neck extension and a widening of his mouth. The episode is meant to eject something, either real or perceived, or something that has tickled his throat. Vomiting and gagging are somewhat common, but it’s a cause for alarm if it happens too frequently.
Is It Normal for Cats to Gag
The ability to reject something quickly they just ingested — especially something harmful — is part of the evolutionary process. Sometimes, it’s normal for a healthy cat to gag. Often, it’s followed by vomiting but not always.
Why Do Cats Gag When Sneezing
Gagging is not coughing, which has to do with the lungs. And it isn’t sneezing, which has to do with the nasal passages. But the sounds can seem similar across species. What is it? Technically, it is a physical response to cranial nerve stimuli. A cat gags if something touches the larynx.
What Does It Mean If a Cat Keeps Gagging
Cat gagging or gulping while grooming could be a sign of hairballs. When cats groom themselves, the papillae, which are tiny spikes on their tongues, pull hair from the coat and push it to the back of their mouth. Cats end up swallowing the hair as they groom.
Why Does a Cat Keep Gagging but Not Throwing Up
Why does my cat gag without throwing up? A gastrointestinal disease may cause a cat’s gagging. It may suffer from esophagitis, which causes food to back up into the esophagus or acid reflux. More serious causes of gastrointestinal discomfort can include colitis, tumors, bowel obstruction, or irritable bowel syndrome.
Why Does a Cat Cough and Gag All the Time
The most common source of cat gagging and coughing is because it is regurgitating a hairball. When your cat swallows loose fur while grooming, it results in wet, messy clumps of hair.
How To Help a Gagging Cat
- Massage the cat’s throat. If it starts gagging and coughing like something is caught in its throat, try massaging it. This helps relax the throat muscles, so the cat can swallow and the muscles stop spasming.
- Place a hand over its nose. You can help the cat stop gagging by helping it swallow whatever is irritating its throat. Cover the nose with your hand, which cuts off air from its nose, forcing it to swallow, helping the throat clear.
- Hold down the tongue. Helping the cat get additional air into its nose helps stop the gagging. Put your finger in the cat’s mouth and carefully hold down its tongue. This causes more air to get into the nose, which helps clear whatever is making it gag.
- Be careful with this method — your cat could bite your finger.
- Take your cat to the veterinarian immediately if showing signs of distress. Difficulty breathing, heavy drooling, dry cough, confusion, or blue gums could be signs that something is seriously wrong with your cat.
How a Vet Treats Chronic Gagging
If your cat has been gagging, there could be an underlying problem. Infections can cause gagging, or a cat might gag because of debris or mucus caught in its throat or nasal passages. Your vet will examine your cat to see if an underlying condition causes the gagging.
- Your vet could give your cat an anesthetic for a throat exam. Don’t feed your cat for several hours prior to the vet visit.
- Treat mucus with allergy medication. Often, a cat will gag and have other involuntary respiratory reflexes due to mucus from irritation or allergies. To clear this up, your vet may prescribe a decongestant or antihistamine to help with the gagging.
- If the gagging is caused by coughing, the vet may give the cat a cough suppressant.
- Treat inflammation or infection with medication. For infection, the cat will be prescribed antibiotics. If the throat or nasal passages are inflamed and causing the cat to gag, steroids may be given.
- Use surgery or medication to treat structural damage. Gagging could be a result of structural damage to the throat area. For mild damage, the vet may prescribe muscle relaxants that help the cat use its muscles.
- If the damage is serious enough or if there are abscesses, your vet may suggest surgery.
- Feed the cat soft food. Softer food will help the cat swallow its food rather than gagging. You may, for a time, try soft food or add warm water to dry food to make it mushy. Soft foods go down the cat’s throat easily.
How To Prevent Hairballs
- Try one of the hairball formula cat foods. Your cat may benefit from food that is made explicitly for hairball prevention. The food contains ingredients that help the hairballs move through the cat’s body to eliminate gagging or vomiting.
- Ask your vet for a formula recommendation, search for one online or at a pet store. Research to see what other cat owners recommend.
- If your cat is gagging because of too much hair, start brushing it daily. It will reduce the amount of hair ingested while grooming.
- You should wipe your cat’s fur with a damp cloth to remove any loose hair left by the brush.
- Give the cat a digestive aid. Talk to the vet about getting a laxative or other digestive aid that helps the hair and hairballs pass easily through the cat’s digestive tract. These products contain lubricants that prevent hair from getting stuck.
- Mix foods that help with digestion into your cat’s food. Hairballs lead to gagging and occur when a cat can’t digest the hair swallowed while grooming. To decrease gagging and allow the hair to pass through your cat, mix one or two tablespoons of pumpkin (canned) into the cat food. It has lots of fiber that helps your cat pass the hair.
- Olive oil is another product you can try. Add one teaspoon of olive oil to the food. It helps digestion, which can reduce gagging.
- Try adding these foods once or twice a week to your cat’s food.
What Human Foods are Safe to Give Your Cat
In the past, it was typical for cat owners to offer snacks to their kitties. New facts have stopped this practice. Many people’s foods are poisonous or even dangerous to cats. This has discouraged most people from giving their kitties any of the foods they may typically enjoy.
There is great news for pet parents who enjoy spoiling their cats and offer them human foods that are tasty and safe for cats. Several human foods are not only safe for feline consumption but also good for them. Once your kitty’s gagging is under control, treat him or her with one of the foods listed below. Kitty will love you for it!
Salmon is healthy food for people as it provides a lean source of protein and is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, essential nutrients for the body. Kitties love it!
Spinach, a leafy green vegetable full of vitamins and minerals, is healthy for people and offers the same health benefits for cats with no risks.
Eggs are a great source of protein for cats and people. They also contain B vitamins. Don’t be concerned about feeding your cat cooked eggs, but you should never allow your kitty to eat raw eggs.
Cats are, by nature, meat-eaters. To be healthy, they need diets that are high in protein, with a majority of it meat. Cats love the taste of chicken, but it’s also a safe and healthy form of protein their bodies need.
It seems like a strange snack for a cat, but bananas are safe for you to share with your cat. Bananas are high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that cats can digest. Bananas contain potassium, which is as good for people and cats.
Oatmeal is another people’s food that is mutually beneficial for cats and humans. It’s full of B vitamins and provides an excellent source of fast energy for your pet.
Pumpkin is a yellow food that is good for people and cats. It’s high in fiber but low in calories. It is an excellent, healthy snack for cats that is perfectly safe.
If neither is lactose intolerant, cheese is a healthy snack for both humans and cats. It is a dairy product, but some cheeses, including Swiss, Gouda, or cheddar, are excellent sources of protein and calcium.
Bread is safe to give to cats if it is fully baked and does not contain yeast in a raw state. It is healthy for your cat as it offers fiber and protein nutrients.
Apples are a safe fruit for cats to eat if it is just the flesh of the apple. The seeds and skin should not be eaten. Apples are good sources of fiber and vitamin C.
Blueberries are called a superfood because they are high in vitamin A and C. They are full of antioxidants which help to boost the immune system and defend against sickness and disease.
Peas are safe and nutritious for cats. If you enjoy fresh peas out of the pod, feel free to share them with the kitty. Peas are filled with vitamins A and C and are high in healthy fiber.
Turkey is a lean protein that makes an excellent snack for the kitty. Give him or her the sliced deli meat variety or cooked turkey breast. These are safe for your cat.
If you’re enjoying a healthy snack of fresh vegetables, don’t hesitate to share them with your kitty. Fresh veggies are healthy snacks for cats and humans. They contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are healthy for people and felines.
Whole grains are food that you can share with your kitty. These are snacks that most cats enjoy eating. Some good choices are corn, polenta, and ground cornmeal.
Beef is another ingredient commonly used in commercial cat food. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and iron. Never feed your cat raw beef — it should always be cooked.
Many cats will not eat fresh fruit. But some will, and it is a healthy snack for them.
Meat-Based Baby Food
Meat-based baby foods are tasty and healthy snacks that most cats enjoy eating. Also, it is an excellent disguise for any medications your cat may resist taking.
It is commonly known that fish oils are healthy for people and animals, including cats. Your cat can have a variety of fish oils, including cod liver oil or salmon oil.
Cantaloupe is a healthy, yellow-fleshed melon filled with beta-carotene, which maintains healthy skin and eyes. It contains large amounts of antioxidants which boost the immune system and protects the body from disease and illness.