Can Cats Get Hiccups?

Felines are mysterious creatures that we sometimes don’t understand. But sometimes, cats act like human beings. They can become territorial, lazy, curious, and they can also possess human-like qualities such as loyalty, joy, jealousy, affection, etc.

Cats can also suffer from various health disorders and often show their pet parents telltale symptoms that something is wrong with them. Excessive meowing, biting, uncoordinated movements, coughing, hiccups, and other types of problem behavior are just a few of the common symptoms.


When you hiccup, you are experiencing a contraction of your diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle between the lungs and the stomach. When functioning normally, this muscle pulls down when you inhale and relaxes to let the air out as you exhale. The diaphragm’s involuntary spasm, which we know as “hiccups,” is the muscle’s reaction to an irritant.

This frustration occurs in the nerve that connects the diaphragm to the brain so that physical and emotional factors can trigger hiccups. These causes and characteristics include:

  • Eating too fast
  • Eating too much
  • Drinking carbonated beverages
  • Sudden changes in temperature
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Bubble gum chewing

The noise you can hear when you hiccup is the sudden closing of your vocal cords. Although only in some rare cases, hiccups can also be a sign of an underlying disease/condition.

So if these are the facts about hiccups in humans, is the same true for your beloved cat?

Hiccups in Cats

Cats hiccup in similar ways and for reasons identical to humans. In felines, overeating or eating too fast are the leading causes of hiccups. If food is not chewed appropriately, it can lead to excessive swallowing of air, which irritates and, in turn, spasm of the diaphragm.

Anxiety is another cause of hiccups that both humans and cats experience. In some cases, emotional issues like discomfort due to separation anxiety in your cat will lead to strange physical symptoms like hiccups.

However, there is a common cause of hiccups in cats that humans do not experience: hairballs.

When felines groom themselves, they tend to ingest a hair or two while using their tongues to clean their fur. The hairs can irritate your cat’s throat, and the spasm can help it loosen or cough up the coat.

Causes of Hiccups In Cats

As in humans, hiccups are spasms in the diaphragm (a muscle at the bottom of the rib cage) that cause strange, abrupt breathing with unique sounds. They are more common in kittens than adult cats, but they can occur at any age. These spasms can have several causes:

  1. Eat food quickly

The most general cause of hiccups in cats is eating too fast. Cats have a habit of eating without chewing correctly and swallowing a lot of air while eating. In addition to hiccups, eating too quickly can lead to an upset stomach and vomiting.

Vomiting can also take place as a side effect of swallowing too much air due to eating too fast, so monitor your hairball to ensure that you are not devouring food without chewing it.

  1. Overeating

Overeating can also cause hiccups, just like in humans. Eating too fast can trigger spasms, especially if your kitty loves to swallow without chewing on pieces of cat food, regardless of the type of food, dry or wet.

  1. Hairballs

Hairballs are another major cause of hiccups in cats. If the throat is irritated by the hair, the cat may try to loosen or cough up the throat muscles and cause hiccups. If they don’t spit it out or vomit it, it gets stuck in their throat and stomach. As a result, they cannot digest it, and it can cause severe spasms in the diaphragm.

  1. Sudden and Chronic Hiccups

If sudden and chronic, Hiccups could sign a bigger problem, such as a tumor, organic disease, or even nerve problems. Especially if an old cat starts hiccupping like never before, it’s worth going to the vet to check for trouble.

  1. Psychological Reasons

Hiccups could also be a sign of an emotional problem, such as separation anxiety. Cats suffering from chronic anxiety are more prone to hiccups than other cats. Separation anxiety, stress, fear, panic, and other similar negative emotions can easily trigger hiccups in wild and troubled felines.

  1. Health problems

Hiccups can be caused by several physical health problems, such as problems with the nervous system, allergies, asthma, tumors, heartworms, etc. Sometimes a cough can be mistaken for hiccups, which can sign a more dangerous problem. The cough can be caused by allergies, tumors, asthma, heartworms, or something stuck in the cat’s throat.

Hiccups Symptoms In Cats

If your cat has hiccups or coughs, she may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Making a squeak when they breathe
  • A spasm is visible in their abdomen or is sometimes so mild that you can only feel it.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • It sounds like something is stuck in their throat when they breathe

When To Be Concerned About Your Cat’s Hiccups

If your kitty’s hiccups are infrequent and short-lived, there is usually nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if your feline friend seems to hiccup frequently, or if their hiccups last longer than usual, it could be a sign of a medical condition that needs to be treated by your cat care specialist. Some underlying conditions that can cause your cat to experience abnormal hiccups include:

  • Organ disease
  • Heart disease
  • Tumors
  • Neurological disorders
  • Ingestion of a foreign object
  • Severe allergies
  • Parasites

Treatment For Cats With Hiccups

Most hiccups in cats are entirely typical and will go away on their own, just like humans. Even if it happens frequently, it may just be the result of eating too fast. If you’ve made dietary changes and the hiccups continue, start investigating and treating other possible causes, starting with treating hairballs, and talk to your vet about the problem. You can help your vet understand better if you can take a video of the hiccups in action.

  • To treat overeating or to eat too fast, feed your cat in smaller portions and place her bowl on a raised platform so that it is more difficult to reach the food, which will slow down the meal.
  • If the hiccups are due to hairballs, there are a variety of foods and gels that you can give your cat to reduce hairball problems. You can also brush your cat more frequently to remove loose hair that might ingest while cleaning. If your cat seems to be suffering from a problematic hairball for several days or is having trouble breathing, see the vet make sure it doesn’t get stuck in your cat’s throat.
  • If the hiccups are sudden, lasts for days, or seems to distress or hurt the cat, it’s time to check with your vet and make sure it’s not a symptom of a bigger problem. A veterinarian can correct some throat injuries, but if it is a sign of asthma, tumours, or heart disease, treatment should be started as soon as possible.

Try this best cat health checker to check the overall health and grade of hiccups in cats.

Are Hiccups Always Bad?

Most of the time, cat hiccups don’t require veterinary attention, and you can help by taking some preventative measures at home. If your cat hiccups very frequently or for long periods, it could be a warning of a more serious health problem, and you’ll want to see your vet.

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