There’s no doubt that cats make our lives happier. Whether you own a little fluff ball of joy or you just like to google cat videos, they can instantly turn a frown upside down.
Entertaining, loving, and often moody, it’s no surprise that we attribute human emotions to our feline friends. But, we mustn’t forget that they are another species. Cats are unique and act in very different ways to humans and other animals for that matter.
That being said, if you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably found that your cat has some human-like characteristics, such as being sensitive, smart, outgoing, and friendly.
But, can the same be said about physical traits? Do cats cough like humans? Do they sneeze like humans? Well, they certainly do many things similarly to humans, such as coughing and sneezing (the latter being super cute).
So, cats must also hiccup, right? Well, the truth is, yes, cats can get hiccups, and like humans, they can come on at any age. However, they are more common in kittens.
Let’s find out more about cats and hiccuping with our fun guide below. We will discuss why cats may hiccup, what they sound like, and look at ways which could help stop this annoying body “malfunction” for your cat.
Can Cats Get Hiccups?
If you have heard your cat making some unusual noises which sound a bit like hiccups, they probably have hiccups. Just like us and other mammals, cats experience these involuntary contractions of their diaphragms, too.
Although cats can get hiccups, it’s more common in kittens. In the grand scheme of things, though, hiccuping is quite common and usually nothing to worry about. It’s very similar to when humans get hiccups. Yes, they’re annoying, but eventually, they will pass.
Hiccups occur when the diaphragm and the muscles between the rib cage start to suddenly contract with force. Then, the glottis, which is a small flap that acts as protection of the airway whilst wallowing, closes, trapping any air inside.
This is all involuntary, so once the process starts, there’s not much you or your cat can do about it.
Because of these involuntary movements, it is believed that the nerve that runs to the diaphragm is irritated, leading to hiccups.
Now, let’s discover what a cat’s hiccups sound like.
Cat Hiccups: What Do They Sound Like?
All of us have experienced, or at least heard someone else with hiccups. That sound is like nothing else. After all, it is named after the “hic” sound you make as your epiglottis closes and traps air, making you hiccup immediately.
In cats, however, the sound of a hiccup is rather different from a human. Most of the time, a cat’s hiccup is closer in sound to a “chirp” or a “gulp.”
If you want to hear a cat hiccuping, check out this video. As you can see, it's because the cat has been greedy and eaten too much, too quickly. Anyone else thinking of Garfield? Too much lasagna!
What Causes a Cat to Hiccup?
In most cases, hiccups are caused by the diaphragm contracting involuntarily, whilst the glottis simultaneously closes. As we mentioned above, this, in turn, is typically caused by irritation to the nerve that runs to the diaphragm.
But, this involuntary action must occur for some reason. In cats, there are plenty of reasons why they may suddenly experience the onset of hiccups. The same applies to humans. The most common reasons tend to be:
Cats don’t tend to chew their food properly every time. Therefore, they end up swallowing additional air. This can then lead to spasm within their diaphragm.
Hairballs are another common reason for hiccups in cats. As a cat’s throat attempts to dislodge the fur ball from within, it can often become irritated, leading to hiccups.
If you notice that your cat has been hiccuping for an extended period of time, it could be a sign of something more serious, especially in older cats. Prolonged hiccups may be a symptom of asthma, heart disease, a tumor, or parasites. It could also be because of food allergies or foreign body ingestion.
If you are concerned, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately for a thorough checkup
What is the Normal Length of Time of Cat Hiccups?
In a healthy cat, the usual span of hiccups should never be longer than a day. Most of the time, the hiccups will disappear on their own.
If you find that your cat gets hiccups regularly after eating, it is probably because of overeating or eating too quickly. However, you should still monitor them closely to ensure nothing too serious is present.
If the hiccups last for longer than a day and become frequent, get your furry friend checked out by a veterinarian.
Can You Stop Cat Hiccups?
If you have ever experienced hiccups, someone has probably tried to scare or shock you to get rid of them. But, we do not recommend going down this route with your cat. Instead, simply offer them some water.
The best method is to try and prevent the hiccups from occurring in the first place. Try to slow your cat’s eating habits. You can do this by using a puzzle feeder, or an automatic feeder. You can also try to push their wet food to the bottom of their food bowl.
Once your cat starts to eat more slowly, there is a lower risk of them ingesting extra air and suffering from hiccups.
And, you can also try to prevent hairballs by regularly brushing your cat (whether they like it or not). Try to make this a routine and after some time, you and your cat may start to enjoy the relaxation of it.
Cats can get hiccups but, most of the time, they are completely harmless. On rare occasions, though, prolonged hiccups can be a sign of more serious health issues.
Keep an eye on your cat’s hiccups to see if they are the result of a greedy cat or something possibly more serious.