6 Reasons Why Your Cat is Gagging

Has your cat been gagging recently, with or without vomiting, too? Is it a cause for concern, or is this a relatively normal behavior among cats? If you find yourself asking any of these questions, you’re not alone.

Many cat owners experience seeing their gagging cats now and then. Sometimes, this is perfectly normal. Other times, however, it can indicate a serious problem. Read through our Milwaukee, WI, urgent care animal hospital‘s article below to find out more about some of the most common causes of gagging in cats.

Cat Vomit


Hairballs are the most common cause of gagging in cats. Often, cats must gag multiple times before they are able to successfully cough up a hairball. If you notice your cat hunkering low to the ground, coughing and twisting their head back and forth, this is a sign they are about to cough up a hairball.

It is normal for cats to gag a bit before hairballs occur. However, if your cat has a lot of gagging fits before a hairball or if they are vomiting hairballs often, consult with a veterinarian to make sure there isn’t anything else contributing to these gagging fits. In some cases, a veterinarian may recommend a specific food to help with hairballs or a prescription treatment.

Food Intolerance

Some cats may get upset stomachs from food intolerances or food allergies. If your cat has moderate to severe food intolerance or food allergies, they may gag and vomit when exposed to foods they do not tolerate well.

In this situation, the gagging response is not too concerning since you may be able to simply remove the food that is causing your cat to react this way. However, if your cat reacts this way frequently, has trouble eating, or has a lot of dietary restrictions, you should talk to a vet about balancing their nutritional needs properly.

Ingestion of Foreign Object

One of the most serious causes of gagging in cats is ingestion of a foreign object. This problem can occur any time your cat tries to eat something other than their own food and treats. The object or item may become lodged in your cat’s esophagus, stomach or intestines. Infrequently, foreign material can become lodged in the nasal passage causing sneezing or within the airway causing difficulty breathing.

If your cat appears to be breathing fine but is gagging frequently, they may have something stuck in their throat, stomach or intestines. Regardless, any ingestion of a foreign object is an emergency and should be treated by an urgent care vet or emergency vet as soon as possible.


Allergies may sometimes contribute to gagging behaviors in cats. If your cat has post-nasal drip that is severe enough to make swallowing difficult, they may experience gagging as a result. Gagging can also happen in cats who have trouble swallowing due to a stuffy nose or any other common symptoms associated with allergies.

If your cat has moderate to severe allergies, talk to a veterinarian about long-term allergy maintenance and care for your pet. If your cat ever experiences an allergic reaction accompanied by trouble breathing and gagging, get your cat to an urgent care veterinarian or emergency vet right away.


Just like humans, cats may sometimes experience nausea as a result of anxiety. This type of anxiety symptom can lead to gagging and even vomiting, depending on the severity of the anxiety.

Cats are likely to show other signs of anxiety before gagging, so look for other symptoms to help you determine whether or not this could be going on with your cat. If you suspect your cat is dealing with anxiety, take them to the vet to talk over treatment and management for their mental health needs.

Furthermore, gagging with subsequent vomiting could also be a sign of a more concerning underlying cause such as systemic disease. These disease processes could include hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, diabetes and liver disease. If your cat frequently gags and then vomits, they should be evaluated for an underlying systemic disease.


Although it is much less likely than the other items on this list, it is possible that your cat could be suffering from a tumor in the throat or neck area. These types of tumors may contribute to gagging behavior and can make it more difficult for your cat to eat and swallow.

If you know or suspect your cat may have a tumor, take them to the vet for an exam. If they find that there is a tumor, a biopsy may be required to determine the type of tumor that is affecting your cat. Based on the biopsy resultus, our vet can then help you decide the best course of action for treatment or management of the condition.

Our Urgent Care Animal Hospital in Milwaukee, WI, is Here If Your Cat’s Gagging is an Emergency

As you can see, many causes of gagging are mild to moderate and may not pose a risk for your cat. However, since some underlying causes are more severe, it is important to pay close attention to your cat’s body language and other wellness signs if she’s been gagging a lot.

For example, if your cat seems fine otherwise and goes right back to normal after gagging, or if she coughs up a hairball and then moves on, she should be fine. But if she shows signs of pain and stays hunched low to the ground while gagging for a long time, then there may be a more serious problem to consider.

As you can see, there are many causes of cat gagging that range in severity levels. If your cat has been gagging a lot, it is important to pay close attention to the cat’s body language and other wellness signs.

For example, if your cat gags before coughing up a hairball and then moves on and returns to normal, this is typically not a reason for concern. However, if your cat shows signs of pain and stays hunched low to the ground while gagging for a long time, then there may be a more serious problem to consider, and you should reach out to a veterinarian.

If your cat is gagging due to a foreign object in their mouth or nasal passage, please contact our Milwaukee, WI, urgent care animal hospital immediately by giving us a call at (262) 226-2055.