What to Do About Cat Hiccups When Kitties Catch the Hiccups

What to Do About Cat Hiccups
expert or vet photo
vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Thumbnail of Ark Naturals Happy Traveler Soft Chews

Ark Naturals Happy Traveler Soft Chews

Behavior & Anxiety Management
{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

Cats get hiccups too, though they may not sound like people hiccups do. Learn how to recognize them and treat your cat.

Did you know that cats can hiccups, too? While it may be rare for you to see your cat hiccuping, it's actually completely normal for cats and kittens to experience hiccups, just like humans and all mammals. While your cat's little chirp may not sound like your hiccup, they are likely experiencing the same frustrating spasm. While hiccupping can be cute at times, cat hiccups that are frequent or suddenly happen multiple times a day may be the sign of a bigger problem.

Causes of Cat Hiccups

Just like in humans, hiccups are spasms in the diaphragm (a muscle across the bottom of the rib cage) that cause strange and abrupt breathing with unique sounds. They are more common for kittens than adult cats but can happen at any age. These spasms could have a number of causes:

  • The most common cause of hiccupping in cats is eating too fast. Cats have a habit of eating without chewing properly and swallowing a lot of air while they eat. In addition to hiccups, eating too quickly can cause stomach upset and vomiting.

  • Overeating can also cause hiccups, just like in humans.

  • Hairballs are another big cause of hiccupping for cats. If the throat is irritated by fur, the cat may try to loosen or cough up the hair with their throat muscles and cause hiccups.

  • Hiccups, if sudden and chronic, could be a sign of a bigger problem, such as a tumor, organ disease, or even nerve problems. Especially if an old cat starts hiccupping like never before, it's worth a trip to the veterinarian to check for problems.

  • Hiccups could also be a sign of an emotional problem, like separation anxietyClomicalm and Adaptil are great for dealing with separation anxiety. Feliway also has a range of products, including Feliway Diffuser and Feliway Optimum that can help with this issue.  

  • Sometimes coughing can be confused for hiccups, which can be the sign of a more dangerous problem. Coughing can be caused by allergies, tumors, asthma, heartworms, or something stuck in the cat's throat. In case you are dealing with the first issue, your vet might prescribe a cat allergy medicine like Temaril P. If the issue is something more serious like a tumor your cat might be prescribed Vetoryl.

How Long Should a Cat's 'Normal' Hiccups Last?

Symptoms of Cat Hiccups

If your cat is experiencing hiccups or coughing, they may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Making a squeaking noise when they breathe

  • A spasm is visible in their abdomen, or sometimes it is so slight you can only feel it

  • Wheezing or having trouble breathing

  • Sounds like something is caught in their throat when they breathe

Treatment for Cats with Hiccups

Most hiccupping in cats is completely normal and will go away on its own, just like in humans. Even if it happens frequently, it may only be the result of eating too fast. If you've made changes to feeding and hiccups continue, start investigating and treating other possible causes, starting with treating hairballs and talk with your veterinarian about the problem. It may help your vet understand better if you can bring a video of the hiccupping in action.

  • To treat eating too fast or overeating, feed your cat in smaller portions and put their bowl on a raised platform so that it's more difficult to get to the food, which will slow down eating. Be especially careful with small cats and how they eat their kitten food.

  • If hiccupping is due to hairballs, there are a variety of foods and gels you can give your cat to reduce hairball problems. You can also brush your cat more often to remove loose fur they might ingest while cleaning. If your cat seems to be suffering from a difficult hairball for several days or is having trouble breathing, go to the veterinarian to ensure it isn't stuck in your cat's throat. Use a cleansing cat shampoo if your cat sheds a lot. And if the breathing trouble is persistent, try using Lysine for cats. 

  • If hiccups are sudden, last for days, or seem to be distressing or hurting the cat, it is time to check with the veterinarian and make sure it is not a symptom of a bigger problem. Some throat injuries can be corrected by a vet, but if it is a sign of asthmatumors, or heart disease, treatment should be started as soon as possible.

How Long Should ‘Normal’ Cat Hiccups Last?

Cat hiccups can be confusing, especially if you've never seen your cat hiccup before. When your cat starts hiccuping, it can be hard to tell whether she's just a little congested or she's got something serious going on.

So how long should ‘normal’ cat hiccups last? This is a tough question to answer because there isn't an exact answer.

If you've ever seen your cat hiccup before, you might remember that they only last for a second or two and then stop. However, sometimes cats will have an attack of hiccups that lasts longer than usual. This can happen when they have something stuck in their throat or if they're suffering from another medical condition, such as heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention is always recommended, but if your cat has already been infected, heartworm medicine like Drontal for cats is the way to go. 

When a cat has a case of hiccups that lasts longer than usual, it's important to take them to the vet right away so they can determine what's wrong with them and treat it appropriately.

Final Thoughts on Cat Hiccups

We have shared with you some of the common causes of cat hiccups and some ways to help your cat feel better. We hope that this information has been helpful and that you will continue to research other causes for hiccups in cats as well as other ways to help them feel better.

There are many things that can cause a cat's hiccups, but luckily there are also many ways to treat them! If your cat has been diagnosed with a condition such as an infection or heart problem, you may need to treat those conditions first in order to treat the hiccups. You can also try home remedies like rubbing the belly or giving them water to drink. When it comes down to it, there are many options out there for stopping those pesky hiccups.

If your cat is suffering from something more serious than just hiccups, like an infection or another medical condition, please make sure that they get checked out by a vet right away! It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our beloved pets!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I worry if my cat has hiccups?

Your cat might have occasional hiccups that are completely normal and might result from air intake during feeding. But if you see that your cat is having hiccups for more than a day, it is best to consult a vet. The situation could be critical, especially if your cat is a senior. Persistent or chronic hiccups could be an indication of several serious medical conditions that might include asthma, cardiovascular ailments, parasitic infections, allergies, or the presence of something inedible in your cat's stomach.

What do I do when my cat has hiccups?

Just like humans, cat hiccups can be controlled with water. If you see your cat having hiccups occasionally, try giving it some water. Since cat hiccups can be a result of air intake while eating, try to slow it down. You can use a puzzle feeder or an automatic feeder. If you're using wet food, you can squish it down on the bowl. If your cat's hiccups are due to hairballs, you can try special foods that can manage hairball issues. However, it's best to talk to a vet before you switch foods. Some natural supplements like Laxatone can also help with getting rid of hairball issues in cats.

How long do cat hiccups last?

Under normal circumstances, your cat's hiccups should subside within a day. They can be longer if your cat's hiccups are due to feeding too fast or hairballs. If your cat's hiccups last longer than a day, it's best to talk to a vet.

When should hiccups be concerning?

Your cat's hiccups can be concerning if they last for more than a day or if they occur too frequently. If the hiccups don't subside with measures like slow feeding, water intake, and hairball management, it could be a matter of concern. If your cat is having hiccups abnormally, look for additional symptoms like vomiting, drooling, lack of appetite, sudden loss in weight, lack of energy, seizures, or tremors.

Can hiccups lead to something serious?

Cat's hiccups do not lead to more problems, but chronic hiccups could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue. Apart from the ailments mentioned above, it could be due to an anatomical problem present at the back of the throat.

Was this article helpful?
Gastritis (Vomiting) Hairballs

You May Also Like

Image for Why Cats Meow
Why Cats Meow

Cat Purrs, Growls, and Other Language

Read More
Image for How to Treat a Cat's Wound
How to Treat a Cat's Wound

Treating Your Cat's Minor Scrapes at Home

Read More