Living with cats, you become attuned to their natural quirks, instincts, mannerisms, and behaviors. An example of such is cat gagging, a common occurrence that cat parents are familiar with.

Oftentimes, it occurs due to a hairball situation where your cat is trying to expel the hairball that has made its way towards their throat. This is not always the case, however. There are also other causes that may result in a gagging cat.

Why Cats Are Gagging

There are several possible reasons why a cat may be gagging, and the severity varies depending on the cause. As a precaution, if there are no clear signs as to what is causing the behavior, bring them to the vet immediately because a possible blockage in your cat’s airways calls for an emergency.

They’re Getting Rid of a Hairball

According to research, hairballs are a common cause of gagging in cats. Because cats groom themselves, hairballs may form and may go down your cat’s throat and stomach. And since it’s not a natural food for cats, they aren’t digested in the stomach, so they want to expel it by way of gagging.

The hairball is normally expelled as they gag and vomit it up from the stomach, and it will often be covered with mucus and bile. Remember to give your cat some space for them not to feel embarrassed about gagging and throwing up the hairball.

There’s Something In Their Throat

Apart from hairballs, it may simply be that there’s something stuck in your cat’s throat resulting in them gagging. The gagging is usually accompanied by your cat swallowing, craning their necks, and opening their mouths wide.

They Ate Too Fast

Overeating or eating food too fast is also a common reason for a cat gagging. Ingesting their food too fast can lead to them feeling ill or may upset their stomach. To prevent this from happening, you can try feeding your cat less per serving yet more frequently. Giving them an eating routine may also help you to know their proper eating schedule.

Heart, Kidney, or Liver Disease

If your cat is coughing and gagging, is lethargic, and has a swelling of the abdomen, it could be that they have heart disease.

Meanwhile, cat gagging that is accompanied by vomiting, lethargy, and an increased thirstiness might be due to kidney disease or possibly a urinary tract infection.

On the other hand, cat gagging and vomiting, together with lethargy, a swollen abdomen, and discoloration of the skin and eyes may be due to liver disease.

If you notice the above symptoms in your cat, it is best to consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Respiratory Issues

If, for example, your cat has asthma, it may also trigger them to gag. Meanwhile, if you notice your cat gagging while they are breathing with an open mouth or if their gums have changed their color, it is important to bring them to the vet immediately.

Other respiratory-related illnesses that may cause gagging is heartworm or bronchitis. The gagging may be due to the presence of increased mucus in your cat’s throat.


Another reason why your cat may be gagging is because of nausea. Your cat will have a tendency to gag if they are feeling nauseous. Do note that nausea may also be secondary to an illness or disease.

What To Do

If your cat is gagging, below are some of the things you can do as well as some tips to avoid it from happening.

1. Check Your Cat’s Airways

If you notice your cat starts to gag but no hairballs are being spitted, check their airways to see if there may be something blocking it. If you see something there, do not attempt to remove it by yourself because you might worsen the situation.

Instead, bring your cat to an emergency vet immediately so that the foreign object may be removed successfully without harming your cat.

2. Consider Slow Feeders

Today, there are slow feeders that are available in the market that are designed to prevent your cat from eating too fast. For example, there are feeders that have raised portions that help your cat work their way as they eat instead of eating everything at once.

3. Check For Other Symptoms

For example, if you feel that your cat has ingested something toxic or if you feel that she is ill, observe them closely and check for other symptoms that may be present. If your cat shows other symptoms and worrying signs, bring them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

4. Consider Hairball Food Diets and Medications

You may also want to try certain food that prevents hairballs among other health benefits. When introducing a new diet, however, remember to do it slowly so as not to disrupt your cat’s digestive system. There are also hairball medications available if you are keen. These often come in the form of flavored gel capsules that would appeal to cats.

5. Document It

Only if your cat doesn’t seem to be distressed, take a video of them gagging so that you can show it to your vet. This will help your vet determine what is happening before they make a diagnosis and offer treatment.

While some cases of cat gagging are not serious, such as when your cat gags and vomits hairball, there are other cases where a visit to the vet is necessary.

If you are worried about your gagging cat, say (1) if it happens frequently; (2) if you think that they ingested something toxic; (3) if there’s a foreign object in their throat; (4) and generally if your cat seems in distress, it is best to take the side of caution by consulting and bringing your cat to the vet.

And Petcube interactive cat camera can definitely help you document your pet's behavior, such as your cat gagging.

Online Vet & Pet Emergency Fund

When it comes to pet behaviors such as cat gagging, online veterinary services offer a lot of benefits for both pets and pet parents. Take Petcube’s Online Vet service for instance.

The 24/7 access to certified veterinarians allows pet parents to ask about anything regarding their pet from food recommendations to help prevent hairballs to what to do in case of an emergency where their pet is continuously gagging and in distress.

With the support of certified vets anytime and anywhere, pet parents get to have peace of mind regarding their pet’s health.

Apart from online vet services, pet emergency funds are also a smart and worry-free way to secure your pet’s health. For example, with Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund, you get access to an emergency fund for all of your pets at a fraction of the cost compared to pet insurance.

At the same time, the service also includes access to the same company’s Online Vet service where you can talk to certified vets anytime and anywhere. With Online Vet and Pet Emergency Fund, you are assured of your pet’s well-being.

Read more: What To Expect From An Online Vet Visit


Why is my cat wheezing and gagging?

Your cat may be having respiratory issues. Wheezing and gagging are among the symptoms of respiratory issues. Because of this, it is essential for your cat to be checked by the vet to determine the cause and provide the proper treatment.

Why does my cat keep gagging but not throwing up?

There may be something stuck in their throat. If you notice your cat gagging but nothing comes out, check their throat to see if something might be blocking their airways. If you see something, bring your cat to the vet immediately.

Why do cats gag at combs?

Isn’t it strange when how a cat has a tendency to gag at the sound of a comb? The fact is that cats have a very keen sense of hearing, making them sensitive to sounds such as that of a comb. As a result, they tend to gag upon hearing it.

Why is my cat coughing and gagging?

There are various reasons why your cat may be coughing and gagging at the same time. Among the possible reasons are heart disease and respiratory issues. Having said this, it is essential to have them checked with a veterinarian to determine what it is, what is causing it, and how it can be treated.

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