Cat-owners around the world love their pets so much that sometimes they forget that they’re four-legged balls of fur and treat them like family members. This is absolutely OK since, indeed, pets can be an integral part of a family. Sometimes we’re convinced that we know our pet cats in and out – how smart they are, how sensitive they can be to our feelings, and how social they are when interacting with both humans and other animals.
However, apart from the emotions they exhibit, what about the physical things? Cats, like humans, can get sick, become tired, and can feel anger or threatened by large, intimidating creatures. One thing that many people may not know is that cats can also get a case of the hiccups.
In humans, hiccups are a common occurrence that doesn’t require the need to call 9-1-1. But how common are they in cats? It turns out it’s fairly common in cats, though it happens more in baby kittens than adult kittens.
Cause of Cat Hiccups
We can get a case of the hiccups when our diaphragms contract involuntarily at the exact same moment our glottis closes which is caused by an irritated nerve that runs through the diaphragm. Cat hiccups are just like human hiccups and can happen for the same reasons – eating too much in one sitting or too quickly. Since cats don’t really chew their food thoroughly, they swallow more quantities of air, thus resulting in diaphragm spasms.
Another more feline-exclusive reason for getting the hiccups is the presence of hairballs. As they attempt to dislodge a bundle of hair from their throats, the diaphragm can become irritated.
In adult cats, hiccups are less common, but if elderly cats have prolonged fits of the hiccups, this could be an indication of a more serious underlying problem such as heart disease, asthma, or a tumor. Other rarer causes include the presence of a foreign body in the throat or allergies.
Another cause of cat hiccups is the possibility that your pet is uncomfortable with its living situation or you as its owner. Cats suffering from anxiety or stress are more likely to have raging hiccup fits than a chilled-out cat. Other negative emotions like fear and panic can also trigger unexpected hiccup fits.
A hiccupping or coughing cat will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Making squeaking noises while breathing
- Visible abdominal spasms or you can feel a slight spasm when touching their bellies
- Wheezing or breathing problems
- It sounds like something is lodged in its throat while mewing
How Long do Kitty Hiccups Last?
Generally, hiccups in cats shouldn’t last longer than a day. However, their hiccups, though admittedly cute and entertaining, should be closely monitored, especially if they continue to hiccup past the 24-hour mark. If your cat gets the hiccups too frequently (e.g. after every meal) then it might be time to take him or her to the vet. If you have a feeling that the hiccups are somehow hurting your cat, then it’s definitely time to take it to the vet for a checkup.
How to Cure Their Hiccups
There are several ways to help your cat get over a bout of the hiccups, though cat owners should only do so after consulting a vet. However, what pet parents can do is make sure that your cat is given plenty of food and water. It’s also a good idea to give your cat a room where he or she can relax and sit quietly whenever they please. Some pet parents will have cats that prefer running water over water in a bowl so a water fountain or tap should be provided for their cats’ benefit. In addition, never, EVER force your cat to eat or drink. Cats have their own programmed eating schedules so they’ll come find or beg for nourishment when they need it.
If you find your cat hiccupping after eating, then there are several things you can do to help. The first thing is reducing the amount of food in its bowl while spreading out your cat’s mealtimes throughout the day. You can also raise the bowl slightly so your cat will have a more difficult time reaching for food. Another helpful technique is placing a toy near the bowl that can distract your cat so it won’t be tempted to eat too quickly. Make sure that the toy is large enough to grab its attention during every mealtime.
If the cause of your cat’s hiccups is hairballs, then you may need to switch your cat to a specialized diet to help get rid of hairballs. This should only be done after getting the OK from your vet, especially since it involves significant dietary changes. You can help your cat eliminate hairballs by giving it Laxatone – an all-natural supplement which lubricates your pet’s throat. You should also use a more effective hair brush that is able to capture every (or at least most) stray strands of hair when brushing your pet. This should help reduce the risk of hair getting stuck in your cat’s throat when grooming itself. Plus, with the extra cat hair, you can make (sad) handicrafts with the help of this (sad) book.
So Should I Worry about My Cat Hiccupping?
Cat hiccups could be a sign of a wide of different problems – from benign eating habits to sinister tumors. If your cat is still a kitten then, generally speaking, there’s nothing to worry about since kitties tend to swallow more air than food, causing squeaking hiccups. As a cat grows older, it becomes less prone to getting the hiccups. However, we should monitor elder cats that hiccup since it could possibly be a sign of breathing problems like asthma.
There are several home treatments you can administer to a hiccupping cat such as changing its diet and scheduling out more but smaller mealtimes throughout the day. You should also switch to a more effective hairbrush that captures hair rather than pushes it off the bodies if your cat’s hiccups are caused by hairballs.
At the end of the day, if you have even the slightest inkling that something is wrong with your pet, it’s always a good idea to take it to a vet for a quick checkup. It’s better to be safe than sorry.