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Cats get hiccups, just like humans can. Find out what to do if your cat has hiccups and how you can prevent cat hiccupping 

Cats may be a different species from us, but we do share a few similarities. We both like feeling safe and warm, we both need exercise and nutritious food (although we eat very different things!), and we’re both prone to the strange phenomenon of hiccups. 

black cat with yellow eyes staring at the camera

Just like humans can occasionally get hiccups, cats can too. Hiccups, or hiccoughs, are caused by a spasm of the diaphragm, the dome-shaped muscle that sits between our lungs and stomach. This causes us to suddenly inhale air through our mouth and when this air hits our voice box in our throat, the vocal cords suddenly close and create an involuntary ‘hic’ sound. This is also how cats get hiccups. 

How do I know if my cat has hiccups?

As in humans, the symptoms of cat hiccups can range from being quite obvious to more subtle. You may hear your cat make a sudden ‘hic’ noise from their mouth and jerk their head, or their hiccups may only present as a slight spasm of the throat or stomach and be completely silent.

If your cat has hiccups, they should appear otherwise normal, with no coughing, sneezing, twitching or changes to their breathing. If they are showing other symptoms, speak to your vet for advice, and try taking a video of your cat so you can show the vet what you are concerned about. Any changes in your cat’s breathing require urgent veterinary care.

Possible causes of cat hiccups

brown tabby-and-white eating from a black-and-white polka dot ceramic cat bowl on a wooden floor

Hiccupping is more common in kittens than adult cats, but cats can get hiccups at any age. The main cause of hiccups is eating too much or too quickly. If your cat gets hiccups after eating, it could mean that they have overeaten or scoffed down their food too fast. Not chewing their food properly could cause them to swallow extra air and trigger a spasm of the diaphragm. 

How long do cat hiccups last?

Cat hiccups are usually infrequent and nothing to worry about. The hiccupping will normally last for no longer than a few hours and resolve on its own. However, if your cat is getting hiccups regularly, or if their hiccupping lasts for longer than a few hours, speak to your vet in case there is an underlying medical cause. 

How to get rid of cat hiccups

If your cat has hiccups, they should go away on their own within a few hours. It’s important not to try the popular technique for curing human hiccups – giving them a fright or making them jump. This will only cause your cat more stress and could lead to other health or behaviour problems. Instead, it will be much more helpful to provide them with a calm, quiet environment where they can relax and make sure they have plenty of fresh water to drink if they want to. 

How to prevent cat hiccups

If your cat is getting hiccups because they are eating too much or too quickly, try feeding them their daily food ration in more frequent but smaller potions throughout the day. You can also try placing their food into puzzle feeders, to encourage them to hunt for it and slow down their eating. Find more advice on feeding your cat. 

Find more advice about your cat’s health and behaviour. 

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