Can Cats Hiccup? Why do They Happen, and How to Stop Them?
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Can cats hiccup? Hiccups are a common problem for humans and animals, and cats are no exception. It is rare for cats to hiccup but not unheard of!
While hiccups may seem like a harmless nuisance, they can be quite bothersome for your feline friend. Young kittens seem to get hiccups more often than older cats. Hiccups can happen at any age, just like in humans. The leading causes are eating too fast or overeating. In some cases, hiccups can even signify a more serious problem.
So, why do cats hiccup? And more importantly, how can you stop them from happening? This article will discuss what causes hiccups in cats, how to stop them, and ways to prevent them. We’ll also help you determine whether your cat needs to see a vet.
Can cats hiccup? Why do cats get hiccups?
Cats do sometimes get hiccups. The exact cause of hiccups is not fully understood, but experts believe they may be caused by several factors that cause the diaphragm to contract involuntarily. These include:
Eating too fast or overeating
Eating too quickly can cause your cat to swallow air, leading to hiccups. Overeating can also cause hiccups, so you may like to provide your cat with smaller meals if hiccups are a common occurrence.
Ingesting a foreign object
Foreign body ingestion, where an item becomes lodged in the cat’s throat or windpipe, will also cause hiccups. This can irritate the muscles and nerves in the area, leading to hiccups.
Anxiety or stress
Cats can experience hiccups if they are anxious or stressed and many cats suffer from separation anxiety. This is thought to be because anxiety and stress can lead to shallow breathing, which can then cause your cat to swallow air and get hiccups.
Certain medical conditions
Hiccups can also signify certain medical conditions or an underlying disease, such as gastrointestinal problems, feline asthma, heart disease, or internal parasites such as intestinal worms or heartworms. Food allergies can also cause hiccups in cats and other mammals.
Do furballs cause hiccups?
Furballs can sometimes cause discomfort and hiccups in cats. They irritate the throat, which can lead to hiccups.
If your cat is hacking up furballs frequently, it may be a sign that they are grooming themselves too much or that they have a hairball problem. If this is the case, it is best to take your cat to see a vet.
Your vet may prescribe a medication that helps break up furballs making it easier for your cat to cough up. Safe and natural remedies such as laxatone are available from most vets in supplement form. This helps treat and dislodge furballs.
It’s also a good idea to regularly brush your cat to remove loose fur and reduce shedding. This is particularly important if you have a long-haired cat. Regular grooming will reduce the amount of hair your cat swallows and result in fewer furballs.
If you think your cat’s hiccups are related to fur balls, you may need to change your brand of cat foods. There are many cat foods and treats on the market formulated specially to help deal with fur balls. It’s best to consult your vet before making any dramatic changes in your cat’s diet.
How to change your cat’s food
When changing your cat’s food, do so gradually over several weeks or a month. The diagram below shows how to replace a fraction of your cat’s meal and increase the amount daily. Eventually, your pet will be able to eat an entire portion of the new food.
This technique reduces the likelihood of issues developing due to new food. Some cats have sensitive stomachs and can suffer from an upset stomach if you change the food all at once. Others are picky eaters and need to get used to new tastes and textures slowly.
How to deal with furballs
- Groom your cat regularly
- Give your cat food or treats that are designed to get rid of furballs
- Ask your vet for treatment or use a supplement such as laxatone
What do cat hiccups sound like?
If you’ve never heard a cat hiccup before, you may be wondering what they sound like. Cat hiccups usually sound like a squeaky ‘hic’ noise, similar to when a baby or young child hiccups. It’s most common for hiccupping cats to make a gentle chirping noise.
However, some cats may make a louder ‘hiccupping’ noise if their hiccups are more severe. You may notice a biting or clicking noise coming from your cat’s throat. Cat hiccups sound slightly different to humans or dog hiccups and are rarer, so you may not immediately recognize the noise.
Cats often move their head forward slightly in a jerking movement while hiccupping.
How to stop cats from hiccupping: What do I do when my cat has hiccups?
If your cat is experiencing hiccups, there are a few things you can do to help stop them. Please don’t attempt to frighten your cat or get him to drink backward or upside down. Such tricks that may work for humans are unlikely to have an effect on a cat, and you may end up causing your cat more harm than good.
In most cases, you don’t need to do anything if your cat gets the hiccups as they are completely normal and will quickly pass. If hiccups are more regular, you may need to change how you feed your pet, provide more water or take your cat to the vet.
If your cat’s hiccups persist (generally for more than 24 hours) or he seems to be in pain, it is best to take your pet to see a vet. The vet will be able to do tests to rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide you with further guidance on how to stop your cat’s hiccups.
How long do cat hiccups last?
Most cases of hiccups in cats will resolve on their own within a few minutes to a few hours.
How to prevent hiccups in cats
There is not much you can do to prevent your cat from getting hiccups. However, you can do a few things to help reduce the chances of them happening.
Feed your pet slowly
One of the best ways to prevent hiccups is to feed your cat slowly. This will help them to eat more calmly and avoid swallowing air. Most cats don’t chew their food very well and instead gulp it down, especially if they are hungry or feel threatened.
If you have more than one cat or even a cat and dog, your pet may be gulping down his food to avoid having it stolen. Cats often eat quickly while keeping a watchful eye out for danger (or thieves). Ensure that you feed your pet in a quiet area where he won’t be disturbed. This will help to reduce stress and anxiety. If you have more than one pet, try feeding them separately.
Try raising your cat’s bowl off the ground slightly. This will make it slightly harder to reach, encouraging your pet to eat slowly. You can also get a special bowel for cats and dogs that are slightly tilted and has a raised area in the middle. This is designed to slow down your pet’s eating as it’s not so easy to get the food, and they will only be able to eat small mouthfuls.
Alternatively, place a small toy in your cat’s bowl; this will reduce the speed at which your pet can eat. Just ensure that the toy isn’t so small that it’s likely to be swallowed. You can also buy an automatic feeder which will slowly provide your pet with food throughout the day or a puzzle feeder which will entertain your cat while you’re at work and encourage slower eating.
Provide plenty of water
Ensure your cat always has a drink available. It’s best to provide your cat with fresh water rather than milk. Many cats are lactose intolerant, and milk’s not recommended for animals. Dehydration can lead to hiccups, so top up your cat’s water bowl regularly. This is particularly important if your cat eats mainly dried foods.
Related Article: Can Cats Have Almond Milk?
That being said, you shouldn’t attempt to force your cat to drink if he doesn’t want to. Some cats are fussy and won’t drink from a bowl but will drink from a running tap or faucet. There are also water fountains available that provide running water for pets.
Try to keep your cat’s environment as calm and stress-free as possible. This will help prevent them from getting hiccups due to anxiety or stress.
Visit the vet regularly
Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help identify any medical conditions that may be causing your cat’s hiccups. This will allow for early treatment and prevention of further damage.
It would be best if your cat saw a vet if the hiccups are frequent or your pet has chronic hiccups accompanied by any of the following symptoms:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Drowsiness or sleeping more often than usual
- Coughing, retching, or trouble breathing
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Any other changes in behavior or odd physical symptoms
Can cats hiccup? Final thoughts
Hopefully, this article has answered all of your questions about why cats get hiccups and helped you better understand this feline phenomenon.
Hiccups can be caused as a result of overeating or eating too fast, ingesting foreign objects, or suffering from furballs. In some cases, it’s caused by anxiety and stress or by more severe medical issues, although this is rare. Always get your cat checked by a vet if the hiccups are reoccurring or long-lasting or if your pet seems to be in pain.
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