Why is My Cat Gagging?

It can be stressful for any cat owner to see their furry best friend vomiting.

This behavior often accompanies vomiting food or hairballs. If gagging, vomiting, and hairball production only occur on an occasional basis, it might not be cause for concern.

But if any of them become more persistent and are accompanied with other symptoms, you may be dealing with a significant health issue, and your vet should be consulted immediately.

Find out more information as to why your cat is vomiting by reading our Columbus, OH, animal hospital’s article below.

cat gagging columbus, oh

Reasons Your Cat May Be Vomiting


On an infrequent basis, hairballs are typically nothing to worry about. But more frequent incidents can be caused by a number of things, including: 

  • Food allergies 
  • Intestinal upset 
  • Excessive grooming 

There are particular medications that can be given to your cat that usually come in the form of a gel-like substance that resembles Vaseline. Alternatively, you can choose to feed a brand of cat food that offers a hairball formulation.

You can also help to reduce the number of hairballs your cat has with regular daily brushing.  This is especially helpful if you have a medium or long haired cat.

If your cat has frequent hairballs, this is  an issue that you should discuss and address with your vet. 

Eating Too Fast 

When a cat eats food too quickly, regurgitation may result (forceful expulsion of undigested food).  If you have multiple cats and one eats too quickly, it may be best to feed the cats separately to avoid a race to eat as fast as they can.  Slow feeder bowls and puzzle feeders are also options.

Unintentionally Swallowing a Foreign Object 

Cats sometimes ingest objects that they shouldn’t, which can cause them to vomit. They include: 

  • String 
  • Fishing line 
  • Tinsel 
  • Bones

Swallowing anything that isn’t food is dangerous for animals because it can cause partial obstruction and intestinal harm. 

If you suspect that your cat has eaten something that it shouldn’t, you should take them to a vet immediately as it could be life-threatening.

Upset Stomach 

Nausea can cause an animal to vomit.  This can result from a temporary GI issue or can be a sign of a more serious illness or disease.  There are several diseases that can result in an upset stomach in cats.  These include but are not limited to inflammatory bowel syndrome, some types of cancer, diet sensitivities, kidney failure, etc.

Toxic Substances 

Cats can sometimes encounter toxic objects that can result in GI upset.  The list is long but probably the most common culprit is plants.  Research the types of indoor plants before you purchase to ensure no harm will come to your feline companion.


Allergies that create inflammation in the throat can cause a cat to gag. This may cause them to retch, even if nothing comes up. Serious problems arise when the respiratory tract closes and gives cats breathing difficulties. Anything can cause an allergic reaction in cats—like dust, pollen, and mold. 

Gagging v. Coughing 

While the two may seem similar, they actually are not. Coughing is the strong and abrupt ejection of air from the lungs and vomiting chokes as a choking or retching sound. 

When a cat is coughing, they are trying to remove fluids, foreign objects, or other particles from the airways. This action serves as a way to dislodge unwelcome substances in the respiratory system. 

Gagging, on the other hand, is caused when a cat’s stomach is upset or if something is touching the back of its throat. This usually means that something is blocking a cat’s airway (causing an obstruction), not just irritating it like when a cough will suffice. 

Obstruction is a very dangerous situation for a cat to be in, so a trip to the emergency vet should be made if a cat is persistently vomiting. 

Reach Out to Our Columbus, OH, Animal Hospital If Your Cat Is Constantly Gagging  

If your cat is constantly gagging, vomiting, or producing hairballs (and that behavior is accompanied by any of the symptoms discussed above), reach out to our Columbus, OH, animal hospital so we can determine the cause. Early intervention will likely lead to the best results in terms of your pet’s quality of life going forward.

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About North Kenny Veterinary Hospital

North Kenny Veterinary Hospital has been serving Columbus, OH pet families with exceptional veterinary medicine since the 1950s. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine as well as low-stress handling to help pets have a more pleasant veterinary experience. We use Fear Free techniques for every cat and dog to help reduce their anxiety and calm their nerves.

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