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Cat Hiccups: Here Is What You Need To Know

Last Updated - August 3, 2022

Have you ever heard your cat hiccup? Why do cat hiccups happen? As a pet parent, you may wonder if it was ever something to be concerned about and if you should find a way to help them go away. 

Cat hiccups are much like human hiccups and are quite normal. They are much more common in kittens than adult cats but can appear at any age. Should pet parents ever be concerned about hiccups? Is there any way to prevent them from happening as often?

What Is A Hiccup?

A hiccup is what happens when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily at the same time as the glottis closes. This spasm creates the reaction resulting in the lung chirp we hear as a hiccup. They can begin for many reasons both in cats and humans and are generally harmless and go away on their own. 

What Causes Hiccups in Cats?

Hiccups are usually nothing to be worried about in cats. Cats get hiccups due to one of two main causes, eating issues and hairballs. While there is no way to help your cat get rid of the hiccups once they start other than to wait them out, there are a number of ways to act preventatively on your cat's behalf so that it doesn't get hiccups quite as often.

Hairballs

When a cat hairball becomes lodged in your cat's throat or has trouble getting coughed up, cat hiccups can be a result. Hairballs are a natural result of cats that shed more or have long hair, so if you have a cat that struggles with hairballs, it could be that your cat's hiccups are due to hairball trouble. 

Brushing

There are several ways you can be proactive about helping reduce hairballs for your cat. One is to make brushing your cat regularly a habit. This is especially true of cats with long hair or a coat that sheds a lot. 

Change Cat Food

Another solution to excessive hairballs is to talk to your vet about changing your cat's diet to something formulated especially to reduce hairballs. 

Laxatone

Lastly, a supplement called Laxatone acts as a laxative and lubricant to aid in eliminating hairballs. This supplement has a great flavoring that most cats love, but you should consult your vet before making any big dietary changes. 

Eating Or Drinking Too Fast

Spasms can happen if your cat eats or drinks too fast and leads to cat hiccups. The issue with eating too fast is that too much air can be swallowed, and food may be chewed improperly, resulting in irritation that creates hiccups. 

One of the best ways to slow down a fast-eating kitty is to make eating a little more of a challenge so that your cat is forced to slow down. This can be accomplished in a few ways.

Raised Cat Bowl

You can raise or elevate your cat's bowl to make eating a little more challenging so that food is at its level rather than below it. This can naturally slow your cat down and help it chew food properly. 

Cat Toy

Another solution is to put a cat toy in your cat's bowl so your cat will have to navigate around it. This toy should not be too small and can't be too light. However, this method may not work if your cat gets frustrated enough to remove the toy from the bowl. 

Slow Eating Cat Bowl

A slow-eating cat bowl is a great solution that uses both methods mentioned before in one product. These bowls come in various shapes and designs, and they are elevated cat bowls that have special patterns, shapes, or designs crafted into the bowl's interior, which will slow the cat down as it has to eat around them. 

Eating Too Much

Related to eating too fast is the issue of eating too much. If your cat overeats, it can lead to hiccups, but worse, it can lead to health issues connected to obesity. Helping your cat slow down can often help your cat eat less, but you should also take measures to ensure that your cat doesn't overeat.

  • Space your cat's meals into several smaller meals, so it never gets too hungry. 
  • Always measure the correct food portions as directed by your vet for your cat's size, age, and activity level.
  • Don't give your cat an excessive amount of cat treats or human food; be sure the kibble or wet food you give your cat is quality and approved by your vet. 

All this will help prevent your cat from overeating and getting hiccups or worse as a result. 

When Chronic Hiccups Might Be A Sign Of An Issue

So hiccups are not usually an issue to be concerned about in adult cats, and they should resolve themselves within a day. If the hiccups persist regularly, you may want to look into your cat's eating habits and get some veterinary advice.

If your cat suffers from frequent hiccups or the hiccups are accompanied by any other troubling symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet immediately to ensure that nothing more serious is happening. 

Persistent hiccups in older cats, in particular, can indicate a more serious issue such as feline asthma, the presence of a tumor, food allergies, heart disease, foreign body ingestion, or even parasite infection. 

Other accompanying symptoms should be noted with the hiccups. This can include a change in appetite, lethargy, weight loss or gain, dilated or constricted pupils, running nose or cough, rapid breathing or quickness of breath, digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea, increased drinking, abnormalities in appearance, abnormal cat sounds, or being more or less vocal than normal.

In Closing

In general, hiccups are nothing to be worried about in cats, and they are completely normal and will go away on their own or can be managed with some lifestyle changes. If you are worried about persistent hiccups or have an older cat, consult with your vet about the best approach to getting rid of cat hiccups.

lara grisko the pet staff

About the Author

Lara Girsko

Doctor of veterinary medicine with extensive experience in animal welfare with a strong interest in feline medicine and plans to pursue ABVP-Feline specialty board certification. A key member of many local veterinary associations and avid reader of animal related science journals and studies.

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