How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Cher Your Own Question
Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21382
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
Type Your Cat Question Here...
Cher is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My cat seems to be gagging or (could be a cough or a ...

Resolved Question:

My cat seems to be gagging or (could be a cough or a sneeze). This sometimes lasts about 15-30 seconds but only happens once or twice a day that we see? Everything else seems to be normal with him.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Cher replied 11 years ago.
Hi Maryann,

How old is your cat?

If you see no other symptoms like vomiting, runny, stuffy nose, watering eyes, it's possible that he has some fur tickling his throat from when he groomed and this is making him gag. He could be trying to get rid of a hairball with no results.

He also might have ingested a foreign object which is making him gag, or he might have tonsilitis or another condition which is making his throat feel uncomfortable. Have you checked inside his mouth?
Do you see any red gums or sores?

If you suspect that this is coughing, it could be related to a cardiac or respiratory problem. In any case, I think it would be a very good idea to bring your cat in for a vet visit to make sure that everything is okay, medically.

If he IS gagging/coughing due to a hairball, you can try some Laxatone or Petromalt--both hairball remedies can be found in Petsmart/Petco, and also online. It's a gel which comes in a tube. Apply a one inch strip to his foreleg, right above the paw, and he will lick it off.

Also, grooming (brushing/combing) several times/day will help remove excess, dead fur so he can't ingest as much when he grooms.

When my cat occasionally coughs like this, the vet told me to gently stroke his throat to encourage swallowing, as there's some fur 'tickling' his throat from grooming.

Please let me know what the vet says and I hope my suggestions were helpful!

Cher : )
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Jessesmom's Post: Cher,
Our cat is 6 years old. We have both brother and sister. The sister did this only once a few days ago. Rocky has been doing it like I said once or twice a day for the last week. We did take him to the vet and he said that it could be due to the heart murmer that he has had since birth. He wanted to run $600.00 worth of tests where he has not had any other problems since we got them both and was told about the heart murmer when we first took them both to our vet up north in Connecticut. We now have lived in Florida for last 2 years. Both cats are only in door and only see the outside from the window.

Mary Ann :)
Expert:  Cher replied 11 years ago.
Hi again Mary Ann,

Thank you for your response and additional information! : )

Yes, I noticed that you're in Lake Worth and we're 'sort of' neighbors--I'm in Ft. Lauderdale! : )
I'm very glad that both Rocky and his sister are indoor-only cats!

When you were told of the heart murmur by the vet in CT, did s/he indicate there might be any symptoms you should watch for due to this, in the future?

I know in humans, you can be born with a 'functional' heart murmur--both my sister and I were born with those, but they didn't adversely affect our health at all.

I will research heart murmurs in felines now, and let you know what I find, but I can tell you that coughing in cats can definitely be a cardiac-related symptom. However, since Rocky has only done this once or twice a day for the past week, it might very well be a hairball or fur in the throat problem.   If your vet has checked out Rocky and listened to his heart, lungs, etc., and found nothing unusual, that's good. You might consider having him checked out by a feline cardiologist, though, just to find out the status of the heart murmur and if it needs any special attention at this time. Heart problems do not always have obvious symptoms, so it's difficult to tell in a cat whether the coughing is related to that, or has another cause.

Please standby for another response from me, soon. Thanks!

Cher : )
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Jessesmom's Post: Thanks Cher,
I'll wait for your further response.
Mary Ann :)
Expert:  Cher replied 11 years ago.
Hi Mary Ann,

I found several websites with good info re: heart murmurs:

Since Rocky's murmur is congenital, but because he's approaching feline 'senior' status (cats are considered seniors at age 7), I would consider allowing the vet to at least do a CBC blood test to check for any abnormalities.

The above site was a link at this site (below), which has more info and links re: heart murmurs, other heart conditions, chronic renal failure and hyperthyroidism, which can all be interconnected:

I like these sites; they explain things in a very easy to understand way.

Did the vet give any alternative possibilities for the current coughing/gagging? Was his mouth/throat examined?

My daughter's cat was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy when he was only 1½. It was also a congenital condition which had laid dormant for all that time. His first symptom was coughing, but it was much more frequent and also accompanied by labored breathing. I'm not trying to scare you, just relating this info.

In my opinion, because he's older now, you're aware of the heart murmur, and he's developed this daily coughing, I think it bears further investigation. At first, I don't think you need to do $600 worth of one test at a time to find if there are any 'markers' or indications of a more serious, underlying cardiac (or other) condition, then take it from there. An x-ray to see if there have been any changes in the shape or size of his heart, might be a good idea, too.

Cats are masters at hiding illness/pain, so sometimes, if there's something wrong, you'll only become aware of it when a symptom becomes obvious,
like the coughing, now.

You can also shop around other local vets (who have good reputations, of course) and ask how much it would be for the tests that are needed.

Well, I hope Rocky and his sister are just fine and this is a passing thing. Please keep me posted on them and you can PM (private message) me anytime!

Cher : )
Cher and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you