Even if you aren’t one of those cat owners that consider their kitty to be more human than feline, you probably still can’t avoid thinking of their behaviors and habits in human terms. While cats don’t necessarily feel the same emotions as humans, the same can’t be said for many physical behaviors.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of cleaning cat vomit off their carpet knows that cats get many of the same signs of sickness as humans. But what about other behaviors like hiccups? Do cats get hiccups the same way humans do? Yes, cats can and do get hiccups but they tend to be less common in cats than in dogs or humans. If you think your cat has hiccups, you might very well be right! Keep reading to learn why cats get hiccups and whether you should worry if your cat has hiccups.
Why Do Cats Get Hiccups?
We’ve all had hiccups at some point in our lives, but we might not all know what exactly they are or what causes them.
Hiccups, in humans or cats, occur when the diaphragm contracts at the same time that the glottis, the opening from the throat into the airway, closes. Typically, this happens because something irritates the nerve to the diaphragm itself.
Usually, cats get hiccups for the same reason that many humans do: by eating too fast. When cats eat their meals like they are in a race against starvation, they tend not to chew their food properly. Because of this, they end up swallowing a lot of air along with their kibble. All that extra air in the stomach can annoy the diaphragm, leading to hiccups.
Another common source of hiccups in cats can be hairballs, caused by cats grooming themselves and swallowing the extra hair. Hairballs, and the action of trying to vomit them out, can irritate the cat’s throat and cause hiccups.
Should You Worry If Your Cat Has The Hiccups?
Since we already mentioned that hiccups are an uncommon behavior in cats, does that mean you should worry if your cat has hiccups? The answer depends on several factors, including the age of your cat, as well as how often and how long they have been hiccuping.
Kittens are more likely to get hiccups than adult cats, probably because they usually eat extra fast and have a lot less room in their tiny stomachs for all that air. If your otherwise healthy adult cat occasionally gets a short bout of hiccups after eating, you probably don’t need to worry. However, if your cat starts getting hiccups often, or you notice other concerning signs like vomiting or loss of appetite, it’s time to consult your veterinarian.
If your cat is older and the hiccups seem to be happening a lot or lasting a long time, you should take your cat to the vet to be checked out. In some cases, hiccups can look a lot like other, more dangerous health indicators, like trouble breathing or something stuck in the cat’s throat or airway. Frequent hiccups can also indicate a more serious underlying medical condition like heart disease or feline asthma. Your veterinarian can help you figure out what’s going on with your cat and how best to treat it.
How To Stop Your Cat’s Hiccups
If you see your veterinarian and it turns out that your cat just has the hiccups, nothing more, how can you help your cat stop hiccuping?
Well, that depends on why the behavior is happening. If your cat is eating too fast, you have some options to help them slow down and hopefully swallow less air. One thing you can try is to place a toy or other object in your cat’s bowl along with their food. Having to eat around the inedible object will help your cat to eat slower. Just make sure the toy is large enough that the cat won’t swallow it by accident!
Other possible solutions are to use an automatic feeder or an activity feeder where your cat has to work to get their food. Also make sure your cat drinks plenty of water, which can help them to move their food, and any excess air, out of the stomach more quickly.
If your cat’s hiccups are the result of hairballs, your veterinarian can suggest diet changes or products that can help prevent hairballs.
While cats can get the hiccups, hiccups in cats don’t happen that often and are usually nothing to worry about. However, if your cat does seem to get hiccups a lot, it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Don’t take chances with your feline friend’s health even if you feel silly taking your cat to the vet for having hiccups. No matter how human you might think your cat is, they can’t tell you when something is wrong. Paying attention to their behaviors, including ones that seem normal like hiccups, can help you catch serious health problems early.