cat gagging

Why Is My Cat Gagging?

If you are a cat owner, you may have witnessed your furry friend gagging at some point. Gagging is a reflex that occurs when something irritates or obstructs the throat or mouth of your cat. It can sound like coughing, choking, or retching, and it can be quite distressing to watch. But what causes gagging in cats, and when should you be concerned?

In this blog post, we will explore some of the common reasons why cats gag and what you can do to help them. We will also share some tips on how to prevent gagging and keep your cat healthy and happy. Whether your cat is gagging because of hairballs, foreign objects, toxins, or something else, we hope this post will give you some useful information and peace of mind. Read on to learn more about this common cat behavior and how to deal with it.

11 Reasons Cause Cat Gagging

Gagging is a reflex that occurs when something irritates or obstructs the throat or mouth of your cat. It can sound like coughing, choking, or retching, and it can be quite distressing to watch. But what causes gagging in cats, and when should you be concerned? In this section, we will explore some of the common reasons why cats gag and what you can do to help them.

  1. Foreign Bodies: Cats are curious creatures, and they may sometimes swallow objects that get stuck in their throat or mouth, such as string, grass, or bones. This can cause gagging and difficulty breathing, and it can be a life-threatening situation. If you suspect your cat has ingested a foreign object, you should check their mouth and throat for any signs of obstruction. Do not try to remove anything by yourself, as you may cause more damage or push the object further down. Contact your vet immediately and follow their instructions.
  2. Toxins/Harmful Substances: Cats can also gag if they eat something poisonous or irritating, such as household cleaners, plants, or spoiled food. Some common symptoms of toxicity in cats include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or collapse. If you think your cat has eaten something toxic, you should contact your vet or a poison control center as soon as possible. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by a professional. Try to identify what your cat has eaten and how much, and keep the packaging or label if possible.
  3. Eating Habits: Some cats may eat too fast or too much, which can cause them to gag or vomit. This can happen if your cat is anxious about food, competing with other pets, or simply enjoying their meal too much. To prevent this from happening, you can try to slow down your cat’s eating by using a slow feeder, dividing the food into smaller portions, or adding water to the kibble. You can also feed your cat in a quiet and comfortable place, away from other pets or distractions.
  4. Medications: Some medications or flea treatments can cause nausea or gagging in cats. This can happen if your cat is allergic or sensitive to the ingredients, if the dosage is too high, or if the medication is given on an empty stomach. To avoid this problem, you should always follow the instructions and dosage carefully and consult your vet if you notice any adverse reactions. You can also try to give your cat some food before or after the medication to reduce nausea.
  5. Hairballs: Hairballs are one of the most common causes of gagging in cats. Hairballs are formed when cats groom themselves and swallow hair. The hair accumulates in the stomach and forms a ball that can be hard to pass. Hairballs can cause gagging, coughing, or vomiting in cats. They can also cause intestinal blockage if they are too large or frequent. To prevent or reduce hairballs, you can brush your cat regularly to remove loose hair, give them a hairball remedy or paste, or feed them a hairball control diet.
  6. Nausea: Nausea can also cause gagging in cats, especially if they have an underlying illness or infection. Nausea can occur for various reasons, such as kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer. Nausea can make your cat lose their appetite, drool excessively, or vomit bile or blood. If your cat is gagging frequently or showing other signs of illness, you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. Your vet can diagnose the cause of nausea and prescribe the appropriate treatment for your cat.
  7. Coughing: Coughing in cats can often be mistaken for gagging. Coughing is a sudden expulsion of air from the lungs, usually caused by an irritation or inflammation of the lower airways. Coughing in cats can be a sign of asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, or heartworm disease. If your cat seems like she is trying unsuccessfully to bring up a hairball, she may be coughing instead. You should monitor your cat’s breathing and consult your vet if you notice any wheezing, panting, or difficulty breathing.
  8. Heart Disease: Heart disease can sometimes cause coughing or gagging in cats. Heart disease affects the blood flow and oxygen delivery to the lungs and other organs, which can cause fluid accumulation and pressure in the chest. This can make your cat cough or gag, especially at night or after exercise. Heart disease can also cause other signs, such as lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, or fainting. If you suspect your cat has heart disease, you should take her to the vet for a thorough examination and diagnosis.
  9. Hairballs: Hairballs are a common cause of cat gagging. Cats have tiny hooks on their tongues that help them groom their fur by pulling out loose hairs. These hairs then make their way into the cat's stomach, where they can form into a hairball. While hairballs are generally harmless, they can cause discomfort and irritation, leading to gagging and sometimes vomiting.
  10. Respiratory problems: Respiratory problems can also cause cat gagging. Feline asthma is a common respiratory condition in cats that can cause coughing, wheezing, and gagging. Chronic bronchitis is another respiratory condition that can cause similar symptoms.
  11. Dental problems: Dental problems can also be a cause of cat gagging. Just like humans, cats can suffer from dental issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, and abscesses. These conditions can cause pain, inflammation, and infection, which can lead to gagging and difficulty eating.

These are some of the common causes of gagging in cats, but there may be other reasons as well. If your cat is gagging frequently or showing other signs of distress or illness, you should not ignore it or assume it is normal. Gagging can be a symptom of a serious condition that requires immediate attention. Always consult your vet if you are concerned about your cat’s health and well-being.

What To Do If Your Cat Is Gagging?

Gagging in cats can be a distressing and potentially dangerous situation, so it is important to know what to do if your cat is gagging. Here are some actions you can take if your cat is gagging and how to help them:

  • Check the Airways: If your cat is gagging and doesn’t seem to be spitting up any hairballs, you should check their mouth and throat for any foreign objects or blockages. You can gently open their mouth and pull their tongue forward to see if there is anything stuck. If you see something, do not try to remove it by yourself, as you may cause more damage or push the object further down. Contact your vet immediately and follow their instructions.
  • Use a Slow Feeder: If your cat is gagging because they eat too fast or too much, you can try using a slow feeder or another device that can help them eat more slowly and prevent gagging or vomiting. A slow feeder is a bowl that has raised sections or obstacles inside that create a maze-like shape. This forces your cat to work their way through their food carefully rather than eating it all at once. You can buy a slow feeder online or in pet stores, or you can make one at home using a muffin tin, a ball, or some toys.
  • Brush Your Cat: If your cat is gagging because of hairballs, you can help them by brushing them regularly to remove loose hair and prevent hairballs from forming. You should choose a brush that is suitable for your cat’s coat type and make brushing a positive experience for your cat. You can also give your cat a hairball remedy or paste that can help them pass hairballs more easily. You can find these products online or in pet stores, or you can make your own using petroleum jelly, butter, or canned pumpkin.
  • Visit Your Vet: If your cat is gagging frequently or showing other signs of illness, such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, or difficulty breathing, you should visit your vet as soon as possible. Your vet can diagnose the cause of gagging and prescribe the appropriate treatment for your cat. Your vet may perform some tests, such as blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, or endoscopy, to check for any underlying conditions that may cause gagging. Your vet may also recommend some treatments, such as antibiotics, anti-nausea medications, surgery, or dietary changes. Remember that gagging can be a symptom of a serious condition that requires immediate attention and that you should not ignore it or assume it is normal.

How To Prevent Gagging In Cats?

Gagging in cats can be a distressing and potentially dangerous situation, so it is best to prevent it from happening as much as possible. Here are some tips on how to prevent gagging in cats and keep them healthy and happy:

  • Keep your cat hydrated: Dehydration can sometimes cause cats to gag, so make sure your cat has access to fresh and clean water at all times. You can also add some water to your cat’s food or offer them wet food to increase their water intake.
  • Feed your cat a healthy diet: A balanced and nutritious diet can help your cat maintain a healthy digestive system and prevent hairballs. You can also choose a diet that is specially formulated for hairball control or sensitive stomachs. Avoid feeding your cat human food, table scraps, or spoiled food that can cause gagging or vomiting .
  • Brush your cat regularly: Brushing your cat can help remove loose hair and prevent hairballs from forming. You can also give your cat a hairball remedy or paste that can help them pass hairballs more easily. Choose a brush that is suitable for your cat’s coat type and make brushing a positive experience for your cat .
  • Cat-proof your house: Cats are curious and may sometimes ingest harmful objects or substances that can cause gagging. You should keep any potential hazards out of your cat’s reach, such as string, tinsel, plastic, bones, household cleaners, plants, or medications. You can also provide your cat with safe toys and enrichment activities to keep them entertained and stimulated .
  • Slow down your cat’s eating: If your cat eats too fast or too much, they may gag or vomit. You can try to slow down your cat’s eating by using a slow feeder, dividing the food into smaller portions, or adding water to the kibble. You can also feed your cat in a quiet and comfortable place, away from other pets or distractions .
  • Follow the instructions and dosage for medications: Some medications or flea treatments can cause nausea or gagging in cats. You should always follow the instructions and dosage carefully and consult your vet if you notice any adverse reactions. You can also try to give your cat some food before or after the medication to reduce nausea .

When To See A Vet

If your cat is gagging persistently or if you notice any other concerning symptoms such as difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, lethargy, or vomiting, it's important to seek veterinary care right away.

Gagging can be a sign of a serious underlying health issue, and your vet will be able to perform a thorough examination and diagnose the underlying cause. Depending on the cause, your vet may recommend medications, dietary changes, or other forms of treatment.

In general, it's a good idea to schedule regular check-ups for your cat with a veterinarian to help catch any health issues early on. This can help prevent more serious health issues and improve your cat's overall quality of life.

Remember, as a cat owner, you know your cat best, so if you notice any changes in their behavior or health, don't hesitate to seek veterinary care. Early intervention can make all the difference in your cat's health and wellbeing.

Conclusion

Gagging is a common and sometimes harmless behavior in cats, but it can also be a sign of a serious problem that requires immediate attention. If your cat is gagging frequently or showing other signs of distress or illness, you should not ignore it or assume it is normal. Always consult your vet if you are concerned about your cat’s health and well-being. In this blog post, we have discussed some of the common causes of gagging in cats and what you can do to help them.

We have also shared some tips on how to prevent gagging and keep your cat healthy and happy. We hope this post has given you some useful information and peace of mind. Remember, your cat is your best friend and they deserve the best care possible. Thank you for reading and happy cat parenting!

CatsGeek.com does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their pets; however, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance.