My cat has hiccups: why? What to do ?


Like humans, and all mammals, your cat may have hiccups. Most often benign, hiccups are occasional, they come and go and disappear without even noticing it.

But sometimes it can be indicative of an underlying health problem. So, you might as well be informed to know which habit to adopt!

What is cat hiccups?

Hiccups are an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, resulting in an uncontrollable muscle spasm, and as we know a rather funny noise to hear. Concretely, in the cat, the air is pushed outwards while its glottis is still closed, and the vibration of the vocal cords produces hiccups, often accompanied by a jerk.

It should be noted that we hear hiccups more frequently in a kitten than in an adult cat, and that it sometimes goes unnoticed by the owners, because the characteristic sound produced by the cat is not identical to ours. Know that even in his mother’s womb, the cat is subject to this breathing reflex. Hiccups in cats resemble a sound inspiration, which is sometimes mistaken for a cough or sneeze.

Why does my cat have hiccups?

Many explanations can be put forward to explain the occurrence of hiccups in cats. But in all cases, the hiccups are linked to a stomach that is too quickly distended, straining the diaphragm and muscles of the ribs.

Here’s why cat hiccups happen:

  • He eats too fast with a tendency to bulimia, he jumps on croquettes and hiccups after his meal,
  • He drinks too quickly, and the rush of fluid constricts his diaphragm.

We understand it, so it is the way of eating that is in question. But it can be caused by other factors besides your cat’s bad habit. Indeed, eating or drinking too quickly can result from one of the following problems:

  • Your cat is going through a period of stress, deep boredom or anxiety,
  • Your cat’s body is full of intestinal worms,
  • The presence of a foreign body in the cat’s stomach or respiratory system,
  • The presence of a hairball in his body,
  • A food that is too dry sticks to the palate or in the trachea.

Finally, too much agitation, a sudden panic or a momentary peak of stress can trigger hiccups, without the latter being the slightest seriousness.

What if my cat has hiccups?

When the hiccups are occasional, don’t last long, and don’t seem to bother your cat, there’s no need to worry. This is what happens in 90% of situations. However, you can try to calm him down by caressing him or by isolating him, to limit his nervousness if he is seized with an attack of hiccups lasting several minutes.

In addition, you can take the following steps to limit hiccups in your cat:

  • Split your food intake,
  • Moisten foods that are too dry,
  • Always leave fresh water at your disposal,
  • Brush your cat regularly to avoid the formation of hairballs,
  • Be present for him by giving him love, play sessions and purring in perspective.

On the other hand, hiccups can be a warning sign of a more serious problem, such as a state of health deteriorated by heart disease, a nervous disorder or a tumor, for example. You should then consult your veterinarian if the hiccups have the following characteristics:

  • It is repetitive and comes back several times a day or a week,
  • It is accompanied by discomfort for your cat, or becomes painful,
  • Bulimia is present even in the absence of intestinal worms.

If in doubt, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian or leave a message explaining the time, frequency, duration and intensity of the hiccups. This feline health professional will be best able to tell you if a consultation is necessary.