Can Cats Get Hiccups

Cats are known for their curious and sometimes quirky behaviours, but one that might catch you off guard is when your feline friend starts to hiccup. Yes, cats can get hiccups, just like humans.

While it’s not uncommon, it can be a bit puzzling for cat owners. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the fascinating world of cat hiccups, exploring the causes, potential concerns, treatment options, and what you can do to keep your cat comfortable.


Understanding Cat Hiccups:


What Are Hiccups?

Hiccups, or singultus, are involuntary contractions or spasms of the diaphragm muscle, followed by a quick closure of their vocal cords, resulting in the familiar “hic” sound. This phenomenon occurs in both humans and animals, including cats.

How Do Cat Hiccups Manifest?

When a cat hiccups, you may notice a few distinctive signs:

  1. Sound:
  • Cats often produce a soft “hic” sound during a hiccuping episode, but it’s not always pronounced or easily audible. The sound can vary between individual cats, and some may have hiccups that are more noticeable than others.
  • The “hic” sound in cats is a result of the abrupt closure of their vocal cords when the diaphragm contracts involuntarily. However, it’s important to note that this sound might not always be as distinct or loud as human hiccups.


  1. Movement:
  • When a cat experiences hiccups, you may observe visible, involuntary movements in their abdominal area. These movements are caused by the contractions of the diaphragm muscle.
  • The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle located between the chest and abdominal cavities. When it contracts during a hiccup, it causes a brief spasm or twitch in the abdominal region. This movement is usually noticeable and can be a visual indicator that your cat is hiccuping.


  1. Frequency:
  • Cat hiccups typically occur in a series, with several hiccups happening in quick succession. It’s common for a cat to experience multiple hiccups within a short time frame.
  • The frequency of cat hiccups can vary from one episode to another. Some cats may have hiccups that occur more frequently, while others might experience them less often. The number of hiccups in each series can also vary.
  1. Duration:
  • Each individual hiccup in cats is relatively short in duration, often lasting only a fraction of a second. Unlike human hiccups, which can sometimes be more prolonged and uncomfortable, cat hiccups are usually brief and less bothersome to the animal.
  • The brevity of cat hiccups is due to the rapid contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm muscle during the hiccuping episode.


Causes of Hiccups in Cats:


  1. Eating Too Quickly:
  • One of the most common causes of hiccups in cats is rapid eating. When a cat consumes its food too quickly, it often ingests air along with the food.
  • This excess air can lead to irritation of the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for breathing. The diaphragm contracts involuntarily during a hiccup, and the quick closure of the vocal cords produces the characteristic “hic” sound.
  • Cats that are enthusiastic eaters or have competition from other pets during mealtime may be more prone to this type of hiccup.


  1. Gastrointestinal Issues:
  • Digestive problems or discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract can contribute to hiccups in cats. This discomfort may arise from issues such as gas buildup or irritation in the stomach or oesophagus.
  • Gas in the gastrointestinal system can lead to bloating and discomfort, potentially triggering hiccups as the body attempts to expel the excess gas.
  • Irritation in the stomach or oesophagus can also lead to irregular muscle contractions, including those of the diaphragm, resulting in hiccups.


  1. Excitement or Stress:
  • Cats, like humans, can experience hiccups when they are excited or stressed. Emotional changes, whether positive (excitement) or negative (stress), can lead to alterations in breathing patterns.
  • These altered breathing patterns, often characterised by irregular inhalations, can provoke hiccups in some cats.
  • It’s worth noting that this type of hiccup is generally short-lived and not a cause for significant concern.


  1. Temperature Changes:
  • Sudden and significant temperature changes can occasionally trigger hiccups in cats. For instance, if a cat transitions from a warm environment to a colder one, or vice versa, it may experience a brief episode of hiccups.
  • Temperature-related hiccups in cats are typically mild and temporary, resolving once the cat’s body adjusts to the new conditions.
  1. Hairballs:
  • The process of a cat expelling a hairball can sometimes resemble hiccups. Hairballs occur when a cat ingests loose fur during grooming, and this fur accumulates in the stomach.
  • When the cat tries to expel the hairball, it may engage in retching and coughing, which can appear similar to hiccuping.
  • While hairball-related “hiccups” can be concerning to cat owners, they are generally part of the natural hairball elimination process.


  1. Hidden Health Issues:
  • In rare cases, persistent hiccups in cats may signal underlying health problems. These issues can range from respiratory conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis, to neurological disorders or gastrointestinal disorders.
  • If your cat experiences prolonged or severe hiccups, especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms like difficulty breathing, vomiting, or lethargy, it’s essential to consult your personal veterinarian for a thorough examination and also appropriate diagnostic tests.



When to Be Concerned:


In most cases, cat hiccups are harmless and resolve on their own. However, there are situations when hiccups might be a cause for concern:


  1. Prolonged Hiccups:
  • If your cat’s hiccups persist for an extended period, lasting more than a few hours or becoming a chronic issue, it’s advisable to seek veterinary advice.
  • Prolonged hiccups can be a sign of a hidden health issue that requires attention. While occasional and short-lived hiccups are usually harmless, persistent hiccups may indicate an unresolved problem in your cat’s diaphragm, respiratory system, or gastrointestinal tract.
  • Your veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination and may recommend diagnostic tests to identify the root cause of the prolonged hiccups.


  1. Associated Symptoms:
  • Hiccups alone are typically considered benign and not a cause for significant concern. However, if your cat’s hiccups are accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian promptly.
  • Symptoms to watch out for include difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, or lethargy. These additional symptoms could be indicative of a hidden health issue that requires immediate attention.
  • For example, if your cat is experiencing hiccups and has difficulty breathing or a persistent cough, it may suggest a respiratory problem, such as asthma or bronchitis. In such cases, timely veterinary evaluation is essential to determine the appropriate treatment.


  1. Frequency and Severity:
  • If your cat experiences hiccups frequently or if the hiccups appear to be severe in nature, it’s advisable to have them assessed by a veterinarian.
  • Frequent hiccups, especially if they occur multiple times a day or on a regular basis, may warrant further investigation to rule out any underlying conditions.
  • The severity of the hiccups can also be a concern. While cat hiccups are typically short-lived and mild, severe and prolonged hiccups could indicate an issue that requires veterinary attention.


Treating Cat Hiccups:


  1. Wait It Out:
  • In most cases, hiccups in cats will resolve on their own without any intervention. Hiccups are usually short-lived and not typically a cause for concern.
  • The natural hiccuping reflex is the body’s way of correcting an irregularity in the diaphragm or respiratory system. It’s similar to how human hiccups often go away on their own.
  • It’s essential to be patient and avoid unnecessary stress for your cat during a hiccuping episode. Your cat’s body will usually self-correct the hiccuping reflex, and there is often no need for immediate action.


  1. Calm and Comfort:
  • If you suspect that your cat’s hiccups are related to stress or excitement, providing a calm and comfortable environment can be beneficial.
  • Minimize loud noises, disturbances, or any sources of stress in your cat’s surroundings. Create a peaceful and safe space where your cat can relax.
  • Reducing stress factors can help your cat’s breathing return to normal and may alleviate the hiccups if they are stress-induced.


  1. Adjust Feeding Habits:
  • If your cat tends to experience hiccups after eating quickly, consider modifying their feeding routine to prevent future episodes.
  • Try feeding smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than large, infrequent ones. This can encourage slower and more controlled eating, reducing the chances of swallowing excess air.
  • Additionally, you can use a slow-feeder bowl designed to slow down your cat’s eating pace. These bowls have obstacles that make it more challenging for cats to gobble down their food quickly.
  1. Grooming and Hairball Prevention:
  • To minimise hiccups related to hairballs, engage in regular grooming sessions with your cat. Brushing your cat’s coat helps remove loose fur, reducing the amount of fur ingested during grooming.
  • Consider using hairball prevention products or cat-friendly lubricants, which can help hair pass through the digestive tract more smoothly, reducing the likelihood of hairball-related hiccups.
  • Proper grooming and hairball prevention measures contribute to your cat’s overall comfort and may help prevent hairball-related hiccups.


  1. Veterinary Consultation:
  • If your cat’s hiccups persist, worsen, or are accompanied by concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian.
  • Your veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination, perform diagnostic tests if necessary, and determine if there medical issue that requires treatment.
  • Persistent hiccups, especially if they are chronic or severe, could be indicative of an underlying health problem, such as respiratory issues, neurological conditions, or gastrointestinal disorders. Identifying and addressing these issues promptly is crucial for your cat’s well-being.




In conclusion, hiccups in cats are generally a benign and common occurrence. They often result from harmless causes such as rapid eating or excitement.

However, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and observe your cat’s behaviour. While most hiccups resolve on their own, persistent or severe hiccups may warrant a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any other hidden health concerns.

As a responsible cat owner, maintaining your feline companion’s overall health and well-being involves understanding their behaviours and recognizing when something might be amiss.

While cat hiccups are usually nothing to worry about, it’s always better to be cautious and consult a veterinarian when in doubt. With proper care and attention, you can ensure your cat lives a happy and hiccup-free life.


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