As a cat owner, you must have experienced your cat gagging sometimes.
A gag reflex in cats might be a result of inhalation or ingestion of something that might get stuck in the airway or esophagus. Cats can gag for multiple reasons including but not limited to sour things, a bad taste or smell, over-eating, and hairballs.
What is Gagging?
Gagging and vomiting allow cats to get rid of any unwanted material eaten. Like people gag whenever they taste or smell something foul, cats can too. Gagging often but not always results in vomiting. This is a part of the pharyngeal reflex that is naturally triggered when a foreign item touches the roof of your mouth, back of your tongue or throat. However, the reason behind frequent gagging in cats must always be investigated.
If you haven’t had a cat for long and are new to the world of cats, Congratulations!
It is important to have in-depth knowledge about his actions and reactions to point out any abnormal behavior while having a cat. Cats usually try to throw up any object that they ingest mistakenly, especially fur. But, gagging might not only be limited to one particular reason alone. Let’s tell you how you can know about your cat gagging.
How do I know if my cat is gagging?
The gag reflex occurs as an immediate response when something touches the back of your tongue, the roof of your mouth, or the back wall of your throat. Gagging might not involve coughing, so it is essential to keep an eye on the cat and be alarmed in prolonged gagging. Cats are fairly good at ejecting anything that they think to be harmful to them, and gagging is the most efficient tool for the purpose.
Why is my cat gagging when it smells specific substances?
A gag reflex is usually a sign of an effort to eject something that the cat has ingested. Yet, it might sometimes also be an indication of dislike. It has been seen that cats express their dislike and discomfort through gagging. Some of the reasons of gagging might include
· Hair balls
All the cats love to look pretty and are grooming themselves all the time. Cats do this to remove any debris from their fur. Sometimes, it happens that along with the debris, the hair also forms a hairball that the cat might intake. This is a comparatively common reason for gagging among cats and not very serious. This kind of gagging can be characterized by sitting low and moving the neck in a rolling movement. The cats gag to get the hairball out, followed by mucous.
· Before and After Eating Food
Another reason for gaging in cats is something touching his larynx. It could be a piece of food or bone. The gagging action is similar to the one due to hairball. But it is also followed by vomiting sometimes to eject the obstruction.
What might a mouthwatering aroma to us, doesn’t feel the same to cats every time. Though many of the foods are not toxic for cats, the smell of some edibles doesn’t seem very pleasant to them.
How do you know if the cat is gagging at the smell of food?
Jacobson’s organ at the back of upper teeth in your cat’s mouth helps it taste the food. So, if you see your cat inhaling air and making funny faces and making gagging noises, it might be due to an unpleasant smell. The smell of minty plants and citrus fruits are usually unbearable for cats.
Why do cats gag at the smell of food or after drinking?
There is no particular reason for the cats to gag at food. It is only because they do not like the smell of some specific food items. They react this way to food present in front of them, and also if it is at a distance. It is because of the plentiful smell receptors cats possess.
On average, cats have around 80 million smell receptors allowing them to smell odors from far away. Thus, if you are aware of what foods make your cat gag, it is better to keep them in jars to keep your cat from the trouble.
Though, there is a bonus too – when you are well aware of the foods that your cats dislike, you can use them to keep the cat away from a place. Ensure that the cat doesn’t go quite near them and feel discomfort; the slight odor is enough to keep him away. Some disliked foodstuffs are exempted from using to restrain cats. Sometimes, your cat might also not like the smell of specific drinks.
Which foods make cats gag?
There is a long list of food that makes cats gag, but they might not be the same for all of them. All cats do not appreciate strong minty and citrusy fragrances, yet there are some exceptions that your cat might not gag at.
· Mint family
Mint belongs to the same family as catnips, but the cats are not very accepting towards mint and others of the same sort. Mint has a pungent smell that tends to keep the cat away from it.
Cats have the same reaction to other plants like peppermint, methanol, and wintergreen. Alongside having a sharp smell, these can prove to be harmful to cats when ingested. Though the cat himself might not come near them, yet cat experts advise to keep them away from your cat as a potential hazard.
We all love Cinnamon rolls, but it seems like Cats are not a fan of those. Cats detest the smell and taste of cinnamon and keep away from it. So, probably while making anything with cinnamon, it is vital to keep your cat away. Though cinnamon has not been reported to be toxic to cats, it can trigger allergy reactions. If your cat does not gag at cinnamon, you should still not give it to your cat as high concentrations of cinnamon can cause toxicity.
The matters of liking about lavender do not coincide between humans and cats. While human love the soothing smell of lavender, cats dislike lavender and try to stay away from it. Lavender can be used as a mild room freshener, yet the cat must not come in contact with it. You should also avoid using it as a deterrent for your cat. Moreover, the flower should be used in diluted form only as concentrated lavender oil can make your cat very sick.
· Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits in most cases repel cat’s smell greatly. Oranges, Limes, lemons, grapefruits and other fruits of the citrus family are highly disliked by cats owing to their strong, pungent odor. The smell of these fruits might make the cat gag, vomit, or have dermatitis as well. Citrus fruits are best kept away from the cat to avoid any discomfort.
It looks like broccoli is not a favorite among cats either. Not all, but many cats dislike broccoli owing to its bitter and pungent smell. Usually, the cats show similar behavior to the smell of broccoli like gagging and making faces.
Another food smell that cats do not find very pleasing is coffee grounds. Freshly ground coffee might make your day perfect. In contrast, it might ruin your cat’s perfect day. The aroma of ground coffee is among the disliked ones when it comes to food smell, and you might find your cat gag at it. Most people use coffee grounds to deter cats from the gardens as they prefer staying away from the smell of coffee.
Some cat owners report that their cats do not like the smell of cheese, whereas some say that their cats love it. Cats detest cheese because of their milky smell that they do not like sometimes. The distaste for the smell of cheese or its taste might also be a result of an allergy.
Therefore, it is always crucial to know why your cat’s behavior towards a particular smell or food.
What other things can cause gagging?
As we talked about gagging in cats for several reasons other than the smell of food, there can be several reasons. Other things that can cause your cat to gag include
- Food chunks
- Any other foreign object
My Cat Gags But Nothing Comes Out?
There might be times when your cat keeps gagging and nothing comes out. If this is happening with your cat you should not be worried. This condition is RARELY serious. There can be a lot of reasons why your cat is not vomiting or expelling anything out of its mouth because of all the above-mentioned factors.
Most commonly, a cat that cannot vomit but keeps gagging may have the following issues,
- A large hairball stuck in its throat
- Is just reacting to a particular Aroma
- Has a digestive problem
- Having hallucinations
- Ingested Alcohol or Medication
It is best suited for pet owners to try and evaluate the situation as soon as they can because timing in this regard is important. There might be nothing wrong with the cat at all but something might be life-threatening, like choking on food, etc.
If you cannot figure out a problem and you cat is showing serious symptoms/continues gagging for no apparent reason, seek immediate medical help from a vet.
Is gagging normal?
While it is quite a normal phenomenon for cats to gag, yet frequent gagging and vomiting should not be left unattended. You must try to find out the story behind the repeated behavior of your cat. If your cat gags or vomits a lot, he should be taken to the vet to rule out any allergies and know what troubles him.
Similarly, digestive issues and human foods can also be a cause behind an intense gag reflex. Cats do not like everything we eat, like broccoli or some dishes of cooked meat and can gag when they smell it, it is perfectly normal. That said, your dirty socks and that stinking vest can also make your cat vomit.
Summing up, yes, about 80% of the time, gagging is normal but if it is not stopping and causing serious issues it is worth paying the old vet a visit.
What to do when your cat gags after smelling or eating food?
Frequent gagging by cats can be an indication of an emergency as well. If you find your cat in trouble, the first thing to do is check his airway if he is trying to inhale air. It might indicate that something is stuck in his throat, and he is unable to breathe properly.
To check the airway, gently draw his tongue outwards and check if you can see anything in the throat. If you see anything even something string-like, do not try to take out yourself, instead, take him to a vet. You might end up harming him while trying to do well.
How to prevent your cat from gagging?
- Your cat gags at the smell or taste of the food he finds unpleasant, so it is vital to take care of the allergies.
- Plants that trouble the cat must be kept away and not frequently used to deter him either.
- Any spices that seem unpleasant to your cat must be kept in jars to avoid the spread of aroma in the air leading to your cat gagging.
- Essential oils should also be kept away and diluted to be used as fragrant.
- Cats usually gag because they are trying to judge the food or get rid of anything in their throat. However, sometimes it may lead to serious injury if not taken care of timely.
- When you know the foods that your cat gags at, it’s best to avoid them near the cat.
Anyhow, you should know that normal gag reflexes are not recurrent on different objects. They are limited to a single object, like a cucumber or a steel rod for example. If your cat does not stop vomiting or gagging even if you have ruled out any possible scenarios such as the ones listed above, visiting a vet will not be a bad option.
It is always recommended to occasionally have your cats and dogs evaluated by the vet when such symptoms appear in the first place.