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5 Reasons For Cat Coughing And Gagging

5 Reasons For Cat Coughing And Gagging

Do you wonder why you can see your cat coughing and gagging at the same time? What could be the reason for that? You might be worried about your feline friend because this is something you have never experienced with your cat.

However, don’t be worried, this happens, and many cat owners have experienced the same thing. In this article, you’ll see some of the most common causes of cat coughing and gagging and what you can do to help your cat.

Why Is My Cat Coughing And Gagging?

Some of the most common causes of cat coughing and gagging are:

1. Feline Heartworm Disease

Feline Heartworm Disease is a lung disease in cats caused by heartworms. If the cat has adult worms, they find their place in the blood vessels of the lungs that are infected. Along with that, immature worms growing inside the lungs can cause a severe response in the smaller lung blood vessels in the lung tissue and the airways.

Heart disease is often the reason dogs and people cough; however, that is not the main cause you see your cat coughing. Coughing cats often have some respiratory problems.

It is strongly recommended that every cat receives a year around monthly heartworm preventative, which will make safe prevention of heartworm disease.

2. Gastrointestinal Problems

Often, cat coughing and gagging can be caused by some gastrointestinal problems. In these cases, the cat coughing will be accompanied by vomiting. Those digestive issues that will lead your cat coughing and gagging are:

• Gastrointestinal disease: if your cat suffers from some illness that is causing problems in the digestive system, your cat may cough and gag in order to bring something up. For example, gastritis due to the increased gastric acid rises the back of the throat and causes your cat to gag.

Foreign objects: if your cat has ingested something that is not eatable, it can get in the way of processing it and get stuck in the throat. It would help if you took your cat to the vet so they could remove it professionally. However, if the object that your cat has ingested is sharp, it can cause damage while retrieving it.

Hairballs: hairballs are a common thing in cats since they groom themselves and they often ingest much hair. Long-haired cats are more prone to ingest more hair than usual and therefore have hairball problems. It can also be a problem of overgrooming. When the hair accumulates in the digestive system, a cat needs to bring it up by coughing and gagging. You can help your cat with malt paste, but more severe cases will require veterinary help.

RELATED: Long-Haired Calico Cat – What Is Hiding Behind That Fur?

3. Feline Asthmatic Syndrome

Asthma or Feline Asthmatic Syndrome causes cat coughing and gagging at the same time. Actually, it appears like that because bronchoconstriction restricts the breathing of a cat. That is one type of respiratory problem, and of the total domestic cat population, only 1% is affected by it.

Symptoms of asthma are:

• Anorexia, lethargy, and occasional fever: Fever or weight loss may mean that your cat has some bacterial infections or your cat is not eating much due to cough. The veterinarian will diagnose feline asthma while observing symptoms and, according to that, will treat cats depending on the frequency and severity of the symptoms.

• Breathing problems(dyspnea): Breathing problems and asthma may be caused by allergens like cat litter dust, stress, obesity, perfume, pollen, mold, and cigarette smoke.

• Cough: Do not mistake coughing for asthmatic attacks. When a cat has asthma, she will breathe with an open mouth and have gray or blue gums or tongues, and most times, those asthma attacks are a medical emergency.

4. Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

URIs are common among cats, but what does the term refer to? It relates to many infections put together that affect the upper respiratory system. However, as the vaccination programs occurred, the incidence of those infections decreased. The reason for those infections is usually fungal, viral, or bacterial matter. The cat coughing and gagging is not the only symptom but the most common one.

Feline rhinotracheitis virus, Chlamydia infections, and feline calicivirus are the most common causes of coughing and gagging in cats. They are genuinely contagious and can be passed on to the other cats via secretions that are usually in the form of purulent or mucus discharge. When they’re brought out, they cause gagging, which is accompanied by cough. If cats groom each other, they will likely spread viruses and bacteria.

However, URIs are most likely to happen in young kittens and those that have immunodeficiency and feline leukemia virus. Also, cats that have been stressed can have lower defenses against upper respiratory tract infections that are spread in large groups of cats or animal shelters.

Other Symptoms For Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Let’s see some other symptoms besides coughing and gagging that upper respiratory tract infections can cause:

• Loss of appetite and not having the sense of smell

• Eye and nasal discharge

• Fever


• Anorexia

• Lethargy

• Corneal Ulcers due to herpesvirus

• Recurrent conjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia

• Stomatitis and mouth ulcers due to calicivirus

5. Feline Calicivirus

Feline Calicivirus is an upper respiratory infection in cats that can cause mild to severe respiratory infections and oral problems. Mainly the virus will spread in shelters and colonies, and often, young kittens will have problems with it.

It is often curable, but sometimes it is deadly. However, the virus doesn’t represent danger for us.

Difference Between Coughing And Gagging In Cats

Before you come to a conclusion too fast, you need to learn how to differentiate one from another. Cat coughing is usually a symptom of a medical problem or a disease and might require immediate action and treatment or some easy treatment to manage symptoms.

Inflammation or irritation of the mucous membranes that are aligned with bronchi, trachea, or bronchioles stimulate the cat’s cough, and they need to expel an inflammatory secretion or foreign objects, fluids, and the tiniest particles from the airways. The cough is an action of projected air that will dislodge the substances.

Meanwhile, when a cat gags, that is actually a noise like reaching or choking. It is also a sign of some problem but often requires less action. Retching can be caused by a gag reflex because something is on the back of the cat’s throat. Usually, it is the airway that is obstructed. If the airway is totally obstructed cat can die in a relatively short period of time due to asphyxiation.

Why Is My Cat Gagging And Not Throwing Up?

Sometimes your healthy cat will cag, and there will be no need to worry much. The gag is often a reflex of something stuck in the cat’s throat.

Now let us show you which can be underlying causes of cat gagging and not throwing up:

1. Hairballs

Cat hairballs are the most common cause of it. Cat gagging will usually come with a cat spitting a huge hairball, but it may take time for it to cough it up to the fullest.

It is not the same as vomit, but sometimes a cat may throw up hairballs inside the vomit. If your cat is often throwing up hairballs, it can mean that your cat has some hormonal problems, food allergies, intestinal issues, or other diseases.

2. Ingesting Toxic Substances

If your cat has ingested toxic substances like household cleaners and houseplants, your cat may gag. Sometimes, your cat will only do gagging and get it out at once, but sometimes she will need an emergency vet check-up due to a bad reaction.

3. Respiratory Illness

Bronchitis and other respiratory diseases can cause your cat to gag. Due to the mucus that is abundant in the cat’s throat, the cat is forced to gag.

Sometimes, cat gagging is not that serious, but sometimes it will require that you take your cat to the vet. If you ever wonder whether you should or should not, it is always best to prevent it.

4. Eating Too Fast

If your cat eats too fast and too much, it is highly likely that she’ll gag. As some cats are anxious while eating, they will try to eat as fast as possible, which will lead them to gag.

It can also be from spoiled food and acid in the stomach, which is severe and might require veterinary attention, especially if you notice that your cat has no appetite and vomits.

5. Nausea

Cats also have gagging issues from nausea. Nausea occurs when your cat is treated with some flea treatments or medications, but it can also point to some illnesses.

Nausea can signify that your cat’s food is not so great for your cat and you need to change it, or it can point to some diseases and health problems.

6. Kidney Or Liver Disease

If your cat, besides gagging, has an itching throat, increased thirst, and lethargy, it may have a kidney disease which is more common in older cats; however, it can happen to any cat, and it can be connected to the urinary tract infection, but it can also be unrelated to it.

If you notice that your cat’s abdomen is bloated, discoloration of the eyes and skin, and thirst with gagging issues, your cat may suffer from liver disease. The cause of it might be ingesting a toxin, but usually, it is a condition that happens to older cats. Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid disease that can be the cause of constant gagging.

RELATED: Cat Urine Color Chart: Everything You Need To Know And More

7. Accidentally Swallowing A Foreign Object

Your cat may gag and not throw up if she has swallowed a foreign object. That foreign object is usually a string that cats pick up from the floor very often.

If there is a blockage like the foreign body in the digestive system of your cat, she’ll gag until she throws it up. If the blockage is there for too long, the abdomen may swell.

If you want to prevent your cat from ingesting hazards, you need to clean your cat’s environment from strings, yarn, hair ties, and tinsel. If your cat happens to swallow a piece of string, don’t try to remove it, it will cause intestinal damage.

8. Heart Disease

Cats that have gagging issues along with coughing, lethargy, swollen abdomen, and weakness are likely to suffer from Heart Disease. Gagging is the most common symptom of this illness, especially when there is no vomiting after that.

If you think by any chance that your cat suffers from this disease, it is advised that you take her straight to the vet. The vet will likely do various tests in order to confirm the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is accurate, the cat will be treated with medication for some time, but the vet will talk to you about other options as well.

9. Feline Asthma

Feline Asthma is also a common cause of constant gagging. If you notice that your cat is breathing with its mouth open and the gums are a totally different color than it needs to be, you need to take her to the vet as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your pet’s health, you always want to make sure that everything is normal. Cat coughing and gagging may be or may not a serious issue, but it is better that you learn what it so you can treat it properly.

If you’re a pet owner, it is logical that you’ll be worried about your cat’s health if you see something unusual, and you’ll seek medical attention so your cat can be the healthiest as possible.

No matter the reason for your cat coughing and gagging, it is always advised that you seek veterinary care, especially if your cat suffers from heart, liver, or kidney disease.

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