Is my cat coughing or retching?

Asked By: Acher Ivaylova | Last Updated: 8th January, 2020
Category: pets cats
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Cats do cough, but not nearly as often as other animals. Retching or gagging , including “coughing up hairballs,” is often confused with a respiratory cough in cats. Severe bouts of coughing may end with a retch and even bringing up of stomach contents such as bile.

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Similarly, you may ask, is my cat coughing or is it a hairball?

Seeing your cat coughing and hacking can be very disturbing. While hairballs are often thought to be the cause of cat's coughing, it is normal for cats to only cough up a hairball a couple of times per month. Any more than this and it could be a sign of an underlying condition.

Furthermore, what does cat coughing sound like? Just like us, cats have different kinds of coughs: a dry, hacking cough; a moist-sounding cough; a single, gagging cough; a wheezing cough; and that half-cough, half clearing the throat thing. Hairballs are a common reason for coughs, and typically, those are easily treated with an over-the-counter hairball medication.

Similarly, it is asked, why is my cat coughing and retching?

Of course sometimes the cause of coughing and retching is actually a hairball. Hairballs, known to veterinarians as trichobezoars, occur as a result of cats grooming and swallowing the hair they remove. Treatment of hairballs involves regular grooming and the use of lubricants to help hairballs pass.

Why is my cat dry heaving?

Most cats with gastroenteritis will have intermittent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Many owners will observe 'dry heaving' or gagging after their cat eats or drinks. Large volumes of diarrhea will usually be produced several times a day. The diarrhea may have the consistency of soft- serve ice cream.

38 Related Question Answers Found

Should I take my cat to the vet for coughing?

When does a coughing cat need veterinary attention? It may be normal for some cats to cough occasionally. As long as the cat is maintaining good health and the cough is not productive (does not result in the production of phlegm or sputum), veterinary attention is not immediately indicated.

What happens if a cat can't cough up a hairball?

Occasionally, a hairball won't pass normally and, instead, your cat will vomit up a little sausage-shaped ball of fur. In rare cases, if the hairball won't come up or pass out, it can cause an uncomfortable tickle in your cat's stomach.

How do I know if my cat has a hairball stuck?

The "hacking" you may notice when your cat is bringing up a hairball may be gagging or retching, as the cat tries to vomit the hairball. Other signs of hairballs in cats are related to the digestive system; these include vomiting, loss of appetite or constipation.

How do you know if your cat has a hairball blockage?

If you notice the following hairball symptoms, be sure to contact your veterinarian, as they could indicate that a hairball has caused a potentially life-threatening blockage: Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without producing a hairball. Lack of appetite. Lethargy.

How do I get my cat to cough up a hairball?


Here are a few techniques:
  1. Give your cat oils or butter. A little oil or butter will lubricate the intestinal system and help expel hairballs.
  2. Use Hairball Gels. These treatments lubricate your cat's stools and swallowed fur.
  3. Feed them treats designed to get rid of hairballs.

What should I do if my cat is coughing?

An air filter may help to reduce the dust and pollen in the air. Allergies could be the possible trigger of your cat coughing a lot. When a thorough cleaning of your home isn't enough, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) can help alleviate coughing symptoms.

What are the symptoms of lungworm in cats?

Not all cats will show signs of infection, but common symptoms include:
  • Persistent cough, often with bouts of intense coughing.
  • Wheezing, sneezing.
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Open-mouthed abdominal breathing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Lethargy.
  • Depression.
  • Weight loss.

Can indoor cats get heartworms?

Cats can also get heartworms after being bitten by an infected mosquito, although they are not as susceptible to infection as dogs. A cat is not a natural host of heartworms because the worms do not thrive as well inside a cat's body. Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for heartworm disease.

Why is my cat making weird coughing noises?

Coughing is a protective reflex intended to rid the respiratory tract of foreign particles, mucus, irritants and microbes. Coughing in cats is induced primarily by irritation or inflammation in the bronchi or trachea and can be associated with a variety of conditions ranging from mild to severe.

Why does my cat keep trying to throw up?


As a pet parent of a cat, cat puking is probably all too common. Whether it's hairballs or a little food finding its way to the floor, vomit is usually nothing to get overly concerned about. Many cats throw up after eating too quickly, or as the result of hairballs caused by grooming.

What does a cat choking sound like?

Symptoms of cat choking include extreme distress, pawing at the mouth and drooling. Your cat may also rub their face on the ground and gag or wretch continuously. If the object is obstructing efforts to breathe, you may also see coughing, breathing difficulties, blue mucous membranes (cyanosis) and collapse.

Is my cat sick or just tired?

Lethargy is a sign of a problem, even if it's subtle. Contact your vet if your cat seems to be lying around a lot, sleeping more than usual, or just generally has a low energy level. There is probably something going on with your cat's health. Increased thirst can mean many things in cats.

Why does my cat keep sneezing and gagging?

Cat Health Library
Reverse sneezing, on the other hand, refers to the reflex of bringing air into the body to remove irritants in the upper area that lies behind the nose. A cat will reflexively gag to remove irritants from the its larynx; a behavior that is commonly misinterpreted as vomiting.

How much Robitussin Can I give my cat?

In general, 2 mg per 50 pounds, twice daily. For coughing: –Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM with dextromethorphan at 10-15 mg/5ml and Guafenisin at 100mg/5ml), for cough.

How do I know when my cat is ill?


These can be signs your cat is sick:
  1. 1) Litter box issues in Sick Cats.
  2. 2) Unexplained weight gain or loss.
  3. 3) Blood in urine, stool, or vomit.
  4. 4) Diarrhea or constipation.
  5. 5) Changes in appetite or drinking habits.
  6. 6) Repeated vomiting.
  7. 7) Mobility problems.
  8. 8) Behavioral changes.

Why is my cat gagging and throwing up?

Eating Too Fast
Cats sometimes eat too much too fast. When the stomach wall expands too quickly, a signal is sent to the brain to cause regurgitation. When a cat regurgitates, she brings up fluid and food from her esophagus by opening her mouth — unlike vomiting, which involves gagging and retching.

What does a cat hairball look like?

What Do Cat Hairballs Look Like? You probably know one when you see one, but to be clear, hairballs are thick mats of hair that are usually tubular in form—not shaped like a ball, despite the name—and are covered in a slippery or slimy substance (mucus). The more-oval shape comes from passing through the esophagus.