Have you ever seen your cat hiccuping? Is it hard to stop? It’s quite a cute sight watching cats hiccuping. But being a cat parent, you are bound to get worried. While it does invite laughter from anyone who sees that, you don’t want to compromise on her health. Severe hiccups may point towards an underlying issue.
So is it normal for cats to get hiccups? Yes, it surely is. In fact, cats start hiccuping as soon as they are born. Some theories suggest that it is a good way to exercise its respiratory system. But what about severe hiccuping? Is there a way to stop it? Before dwelling into these questions, it’s better to understand what are hiccups and what causes them.
What are Hiccups?
A hiccup is an uncontrollable spasm in the diaphragm which is accompanied by a strange sound. It is an involuntary action and can be hard to control. It’s like a twitch that facilitates breathing in air rapidly but the closure of glottis in the voice box quickly blocks the air. Hiccups are directly related to the working of the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a muscle between the chest and the abdomen. These muscles separate heart, lings, etc. From intestines, stomach, liver and other parts of the abdomen. They have a crucial role to play in respiration. The movement of the diaphragm enables the lungs to breathe in air.
In cats, the diaphragm goes downwards in the direction of the abdomen as she inhales. As the diaphragm shifts downwards and provides space, the air quickly seeps into the lungs. Likewise, when the diaphragm moves upwards towards the chest, the lungs release air out completing the respiration process.
The voice box and the diaphragm need to contract simultaneously to cause a twitch with a sound or a hiccup. Hiccups aren’t exclusive to humans and any warm-blooded animal like cats and dogs can get hiccups.
Cat Hiccups: What does it mean?
Cat hiccups are rather subtle than human’s exaggerated hiccups. It might be a recurrent gulp or chirp sound. It’s an adorable sight indeed. While most cases of hiccups subside soon, it can be frustrating to the cat if it does last long. It can happen due to nerve irritation, gulping down too much food in one go, etc.
It doesn’t mean you should instantly be worried about it. It’s a natural activity that occurs every once in a while. Your cat may also be the culprit but there’s no reason why you should scold her for this. So what are the causes of hiccups in cats?
Causes of Cat Hiccups
Cat hiccups follow the same procedure. The causes of cat hiccups are more or less the same as in humans. It is common in young kittens but cats of any age can get hiccups. Here are the possible causes of these irritating spasms:
- Eating too fast
The most common reason why cats get hiccups. Have you seen your cat absolutely pounce on her favorite food item? When you feed her favorite snack after a long time, she would just try to gulp it greedily. It can also happen if you forgot to feed her in the day or night. In any case, when eating fast, cats swallow a lot of air while chewing food.
Eating too quickly can also cause other problems like diarrhea and vomiting. Cats tend to catch habits quickly and you should work with her to avoid this bad habit.
Of course, eating too much food can cause all of the world’s biggest problems. Apart from obesity and all, it may also cause you hiccups and your body can’t take any more food.
This is a common problem in cats and dogs. They ingest hairballs by mistake and it irritates the cat’s throat. They try to remove it with a voluntary cough and forced diaphragm movement. This may also result in getting hiccups because of the sudden twitch.
- Underlying Disease.
Severe and recurring hiccups can point to a more serious health issue like a tumor, nerve problem or organ disease. The hiccups are chronic and hard to control in such a case. While hiccups are quite common in young cats, old cats are mature and don’t eat so quickly.
If your old cat starts coughing rapidly, it’s time for a trip to the vet. It’s important to not ignore such signs as these diseases can turn fatal if you don’t prevent them.
- Separation Anxiety
Some users say that cats suffering from separation anxiety also get hiccups once in a while. Cats get sad and their basic processes are affected in such a case.
- Cat is coughing
Some people may also confuse a cat’s coughing for hiccups. Frequent and recurring coughing is doubtlessly a more serious problem. Possible causes of coughing include asthma, heartworms, allergies, tumors, choking, blockage, etc.
If your cat is coughing vigorously or you think she’s getting too much if hiccups, the best option is to consult the vet immediately. You may also look at videos online to ensure if it’s hiccup or coughing.
How long should ‘normal’ cat hiccups last?
Normal cat hiccups don’t last more than a day. They would usually subside and go away on their own. If your cat is getting hiccups regularly, she might have developed the habit of eating too fast or too much at a time. You should monitor her food habits.
If everything is alright and she’s still hiccuping frequently, the reason might be something else altogether. This is usually not a good sign and can point to an underlying issue. It’s always better to consult the vet in such a case.
Symptoms of Cat Hiccups
So how do you know that your cat is getting hiccups? Some people may find it hard to distinguish between a hiccup and a cough. Here are some symptoms you would observe if your cat is getting hiccups:
- She makes a squeaky noise while breathing.
- You can feel a spasm around her abdomen. It maybe not prominent and sometimes you have to touch her to feel it
- She might be having trouble breathing. You can listen to burp sounds and heavy breathing.
- She might sound like something is blocking her throat as they breathe.
In most cases, it’s easy to know that your cat is hiccuping. There is no reason why your cat should have all of these reasons. It depends upon the cat’s reason why she is hiccupping. Different cats would have different kinds of hiccups and show diverse symptoms.
Should you worry about cat hiccups?
After reading the previous answers, you would know that it’s nothing serious most of the time. It’s absolutely normal for cats to cough and you can definitely enjoy a laugh or share the video with your friends. But what if the hiccups are concerningly frequent and your cat seems struggling too often?
To understand the effects of frequent hiccuping, you should first know what it means. Getting hiccups every now and then twice a week or so isn’t frequent. Even if it’s more frequent than that, eating food too fast is probably the reason behind it. Overeating is another prominent reason.
But if the hiccups have become a daily occurrence and your cat seems to be struggling with it, you should be worried. You should contact your local vet as soon as possible. Here are some underlying issues that might be causing her hiccups.
Did you think asthma is only a human disease? It’s not true. Cats are equally susceptible to suffering from Asthma. Owners many times confuse coughing for hiccups because of the similar sound. Because of the subtlety in a cat’s hiccup and cough, it’s hard to find the difference. If she has been previously Asthmatic or is hiccupping too often, this might be the reason.
- Food Allergy And Parasites
A food allergy might be causing her frequent hiccups. While food allergy is mostly not a fatal or a serious disease. But it can cause these irritating symptoms like skin infection, hiccups, vomiting, etc. Avoid feeding your cat with any new food product you have been feeding lately. Remember the time when she started hiccuping and think about what food might be the reason behind.
Treatment for cats with hiccups
Hiccups are a normal phenomenon and won’t last much. It goes away on its own in a few minutes, mostly under ten minutes. Even if your cat hiccups too often, eating food too frequently is probably the reason. But if you’ve set her eating habits right along with treating hairballs, you can discuss further strategies with the vet. Here are a few treatments you can look at:
- To prevent your cat from eating too fast, feed her very small portion. Place her food bowl on a raised platform to keep her from ingesting too much at once. As the food gets difficult to reach, it will slow down her eating process.
- If hairballs are causing hiccups, you can provide your cats with foods and gels that are made for reducing these hairball problems. You should also brush your cat regularly to remove any fur that she may ingest later on. If your cat has trouble breathing due to the hairball, take her to the veterinarian for proper treatment.
- If hiccups are too frequent or have lasted for hours, it might be a symptom of a severe problem. It might be hurtful or distress your cat. You may also observe other accompanying symptoms that point to disease. Throat injuries can also cause hiccups and the vet can treat them rather quickly. Other problems like heart diseases and asthma are difficult to deal with.
How to prevent cat hiccups?
If your cat has made hiccuping a habit lately, you should look for preventive measures. Most animals can’t help themselves out and you being the owner need to do something to comfort them. Apart from feeding them the right way and keeping her food bowl at a good height, you should also keep her water bowl along.
Gulping too much water or fluids in one go can also cause hiccupping and many people ignore this reason. Moreover, feed her frequently so that she doesn’t eat desperately when you feed her. If your cat’s hiccups are accompanied by sneezing, it may be due to allergic reactions. Take her to the vet who would carry out tests and remove the allergens from her body.
If you have exposed your cat to low temperatures, she might be suffering from hypothermia. This can cause hiccuping in cats. Cats can’t endure very low temperatures and always like their surroundings warm. Ensure that your cat has taken all her preventive medicines to avoid any allergic reactions.
Can I use Human Remedies for Cat Hiccupping?
No, you should never try human remedies on cats. They have very different body requirements than humans. Employing human remedies on cats can lead to catastrophic results. The human brain can understand why things are happening and how to stop them.
Tricks, like scaring her or attempting to hold breathe, might traumatize your cat. The bartender’s trick of biting a lemon which has been doused in bitters is another very useful technique to get rid of hiccups. But only for humans. It’s better to let your cat get relieved naturally.
What causes a kitten to hiccup?
Healthy kittens might get hiccups throughout the day. Your baby kitten’s adorable hiccups might last a few seconds and can stretch to a few minutes at most. Kittens usually eat and drink quickly and thus would get hiccups after eating. Kittens also get hiccups when they are excited or nervous. The theory is that when the kittens are excited, their breathing rate increases. This results in the stimulation of diaphragm which leads to hiccups. Most kittens leave hiccuping habits as they grow up into mature cats.
What Should You Do When a Kitten is Hiccupping?
While hiccups are normal, you may want to relieve your kitten if she’s been hiccuping for too long. It becomes quite frustrating for you little feline baby. You should never scold them even if the voice irritates you as it’s not in her hands. It’s a normal bodily function and it’s best to gently comfort her. Here are a few tips that might help you:
- Water can halt hiccuping in kittens. If your kitten is hiccuping profusely, feed her with a small amount of water.
- You can feed her with some low-grain or grain-free diet for instant relief.
- Distracting is always a good technique to help eliminate hiccups. If your cat is sitting in a place, try moving her around and start to play with her by throwing some toys.
- Use smaller bowls and break the food into smaller parts. Kittens have small throats and can’t ingest larger bites which may result in hipping.
- Look if your kitten’s hiccups have a particular pattern like some meal after which she starts hiccupping. You should modify or remove that meal from her diet.
Voila! We have covered everything you need to know about hiccups in cats. Apart from this, remember one thing- When in doubt, consult the vet. If you are skeptical that your cat is hiccuping too often, you should never leave it unattended.