Why Does My Cat Keep Gagging?


Have you ever seen your cat gag? Many times, cats gag for benign reasons, and some cats may be very prone to this problem. Whether your cat’s gagging often or not very frequently at all, it’s important to understand what the underlying causes of this issue could be.

Causes of cat gagging

Common Causes of Cat Gagging

In this article, we will explore some of the potential causes of gagging in cats. Armed with this information, you can speak to your veterinarian more confidently about your cat’s issue and ensure you receive the right type of treatment in a timely fashion as well.

Some common causes of cat gagging include, but aren’t limited to:


Hairballs are caused by a cat grooming himself and swallowing a lot of hair over time. All cats may develop hairballs, with the exception of hairless cats who do not. As the hair builds up in your cat’s stomach, it forms into a clump or ball that then must be spit up again.

If you notice your cat retching, then see him cough up vomit with noticeable hair in it, you can safely assume his gagging is simply from hairballs. You may want to give him an over-the-counter hairball treatment to ease this process.

Ingestion of Foreign Object

Cats are often prone to chewing on and swallowing items they should not. Because of this, they may sometimes ingest foreign objects such as pieces of string, fabric, plastic, and other items. In some cases, these pass normally in the cat’s stool, but in others, they may cause an obstruction that can lead to gagging.

If an item is stuck in your cat’s throat, he may gag without ever vomiting. If there is a blockage in his digestive system, he may gag and vomit frequently and may have a swollen abdomen as well. Take him to the vet immediately if this occurs.

Ingesting a foreign object also has the potential to cause a partial obstruction, or a linear foreign body, which can do extensive harm to your cat over time. When this happens, your cat may still be eating and drinking, but vomit or gag over time.

Heart Disease

Cats with heart disease may show other symptoms including coughing, weakness, lethargy, and a swollen abdomen. However, gagging is one of the most common symptoms of this condition in cats, especially when it is not accompanied with vomiting.

If you suspect your cat might have heart disease, take him to the vet right away. The vet will want to perform many tests to confirm this diagnosis. If your cat has heart disease, you may be able to manage it for some time with medication, but your vet will discuss more with you about the possible options moving forward.

Kidney or Liver Disease

If your cat experiences gagging along with vomiting, lethargy, itching, and increased thirst, he may be suffering from kidney disease. This is common in older cats, but it can occur at any time in a cat’s life and may or may not be related to an underlying condition such as urinary tract infections.

Cats with a bloated abdomen, lethargy, discoloration of the skin and eyes, and excessive thirst that goes along with gagging and vomiting may have liver disease. This can be caused by ingesting a toxin, but it is most commonly a disease of old age in cats.

Another potential cause for cat gagging can be Thyroid disease. Hyperthyroidism is very common and can lead to chronic and persistent gagging and vomiting.


Nausea can be a symptom of a variety of illnesses and diseases, and it can sometimes happen just because a cat’s food doesn’t quite sit right with him. If your cat experiences nausea for any reason, he is likely to gag because of it.

If your cat gags, vomits, and then seems fine after one or two times, this is probably nothing to worry about. However, if the problem persists or your cat shows other symptoms along with it, you should take him to the veterinarian right away.

Eating Too Fast

Sometimes, cats simply eat too fast and too much, which causes them to feel sick. When this happens, they may spit up their food almost immediately after eating it. If you notice your cat eating a lot, gagging, and then vomiting mostly food back up again, this may be the culprit.

Try feeding your cat less food at one time to prevent him from overeating or from swallowing too much food too quickly. You might also need to establish eating routines and times rather than allowing your cat to graze, if this is how he has been normally eating.

However, persistent cat gagging or vomiting from eating too fast should still be evaluated by a veterinarian because even though this is a common cause, it’s not normal for cats to gag or vomit constantly.

Seek Veterinary Care for Your Cat’s Gagging

Do you feel like you understand a little bit more about your cat’s gagging issue now? As you can see, some causes of gagging are not very serious at all, and some may even take care of themselves without veterinary intervention.

However, in many cases, it is important to take your cat to the vet if you notice him gagging. And of course, if he shows any signs of respiratory distress or if you believe he may have inhaled or ingested a foreign object, seek emergency vet care right away. Otherwise, you can probably wait until your regular vet is available for other issues.

When in doubt, especially for a situation like this, it’s best to have your cat examined by a veterinarian to make sure there aren’t other underlying health problems that could be causing your cat to keep gagging. Regarding your pet’s health, is always better to be safe than sorry.

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