If you are a cat lover, you might have seen some viral videos of cats gagging or making funny faces when their owners run their fingers over a comb. You might have wondered what causes this strange reaction and whether it is harmful or amusing for your feline friend. In this blog post, we will explore the question “why do cats gag at combs?” and reveal some fascinating facts about cat hearing and behavior.
We will also discuss a rare but serious condition called feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS) that can be triggered by certain sounds, including combs. Finally, we will give you some tips on how to create a cat-friendly sound environment that will make your kitty happy and relaxed. So, if you are curious to learn more about why cats gag at combs and other noises, keep reading!
Why Cats Gag When They Hear Comb Scratching Noise
One of the most puzzling questions that cat owners might have is why their cats gag when they hear comb scratching noise. You might have seen some videos of cats making funny faces or noises when their owners run their fingers over a comb near them. What causes this strange reaction and is it normal or harmful for your cat?
The most likely reason why cats gag at combs is that they have a very sensitive and powerful sense of hearing. Cats are natural predators and they use their ears to locate and catch their prey, such as mice and rats. These rodents communicate using ultrasonic sounds that are too high-pitched for humans to hear, but not for cats. When you run your fingers over a comb, you create a similar high-frequency sound that extremely irritate your cat, resulting in the gag reflex. In human terms, it’s like nails running down a blackboard.
Having a keen sense of hearing can be beneficial for cats, as it helps them survive and thrive in their environment. However, it can also be a drawback, as it makes them more susceptible to loud or unpleasant noises that might annoy or frighten them. For example, some cats might hate the sound of vacuum cleaners, fireworks, thunderstorms, or even your singing.
Some cats might react more strongly to combs than others, depending on their personality, age, health, and breed. Some cats might just ignore the sound, while others might gag, hiss, run away, or even attack the source of the noise. Some cats might even develop a rare but serious condition called feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS), which we will discuss in the next section.
If you want to see some examples of cats gagging at combs, you can watch this video:
However, we don’t recommend that you try this on your own cat at home, as it might be distressing or harmful for them. It might also damage your relationship with your cat, as they might lose trust in you or associate you with something unpleasant. Remember, what might seem funny to you might not be fun for your cat!
Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures (FARS)
While most cats might just gag or make funny faces at combs, some cats might have a more severe reaction to certain sounds, such as seizures or aggression. This is a rare but serious condition called feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS), also known as Tom and Jerry syndrome.
FARS is a type of epilepsy that is triggered by high-pitched noises that might resemble rodent communication or other threats. It is more common in older cats (average age of 15 years) and Birmans, and it might be related to genetic factors or underlying diseases.
Some of the symptoms of FARS include:
- Generalized tonic-clonic seizures: These are the “classic” seizures that involve loss of consciousness, stiffening of the body, and jerking of the limbs. They can last from a few seconds to several minutes and can be life-threatening if they occur frequently or for a long time.
- Myoclonic seizures: These are brief, involuntary muscle twitches that can affect one or more parts of the body. They can be subtle or dramatic, and they can occur with or without loss of awareness. They are sometimes called “startle” seizures because they can be triggered by sudden noises or movements.
- Absence seizures: These are brief episodes of staring or blanking out that can go unnoticed by others. They can occur with or without myoclonic twitches, and they can impair the cat’s ability to perform normal activities.
Some of the sounds that can trigger FARS include:
- Crinkling tin foil
- Clinking glass
- Hammering nails
- Tapping on a computer keyboard or mouse
- Clinking coins or keys
- Clicking a human’s tongue
If your cat has FARS, you should consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. There are medications that can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures, such as levetiracetam or phenobarbital. You should also try to avoid or minimize the exposure to noises that might trigger seizures, such as using soft brushes, covering metal bowls, playing soothing sounds, etc.
FARS can affect your cat’s quality of life and well-being, so it is important to recognize the signs and seek help if needed. Remember, your cat is not doing this on purpose or to annoy you; they are suffering from a medical condition that needs attention and care.
How to Create a Cat-Friendly Sound Environment
As we have seen, cats have a very sensitive and powerful sense of hearing that can make them react to certain sounds in different ways. Some sounds might be pleasant or soothing for them, while others might be annoying or frightening. Therefore, it is important to create a sound environment that is comfortable and pleasing for your cat, as it can affect their health and well-being.
Some of the noises that cats enjoy hearing include:
- Purring: This is a sign of contentment and relaxation for cats, and it can also have a calming effect on humans. You can encourage your cat to purr by petting them gently or cuddling with them.
- Chirping: This is a sound that cats make when they are excited or interested in something, such as a bird or a toy. You can stimulate your cat’s curiosity by providing them with interactive toys or bird feeders outside the window.
Some tips on how to reduce or avoid noises that might annoy or distress your cat include:
- Using soft brushes: Instead of using combs or metal brushes that might create high-pitched sounds, use soft brushes that are gentle on your cat’s fur and ears.
- Covering metal bowls: Metal bowls can create clinking sounds when your cat eats or drinks from them, which might bother them. You can cover them with a cloth or use ceramic or plastic bowls instead.
- Playing soothing sounds: If there are noises that you cannot control or avoid, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction work, you can try to mask them by playing soothing sounds for your cat, such as white noise, nature sounds, or music.
- Providing safe places: Your cat should have several places where they can retreat from threatening sounds or events. Common safe places include on top of shelves or cat trees, behind or under furniture, and in an open cat carrier or a closet. Your cat should feel calm and relaxed in the safe area.
By creating a cat-friendly sound environment, you can help your cat feel more comfortable and happy at home. Remember, your cat’s ears are much more sensitive than yours, so try to respect their preferences and needs when it comes to sound.
In this blog post, we have explored the question “why do cats gag at combs?” and revealed some fascinating facts about cat hearing and behavior. We have also discussed a rare but serious condition called feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS) that can be triggered by certain sounds, including combs. Finally, we have given you some tips on how to create a cat-friendly sound environment that will make your kitty happy and relaxed.