Hiccups In Cats: Symptoms And Causes

gray cat standing in two feet

Key points

  • Hiccups are contractions of the diaphragm that occur in response to a certain irritant. The most common things to cause hiccups in cats include anxiety, eating too much or too quickly, and hairballs.
  • If hiccups are infrequent and don’t bother your cat for prolonged periods of time, then there’s nothing for you to be worried about.
  • It’s better to consult a veterinarian about your cat’s hiccups if they happen regularly and last a long time since they may be a symptom of an underlying health condition.

Have you ever seen your cat experiencing something similar to human hiccups? Then you may be wondering whether felines can get hiccups, and the answer is yes! Interestingly, kittens are more likely to get hiccups than adult cats. But what causes hiccups in cats? Let’s take a closer look at feline hiccups in this article.

Hiccups: What They Are And What Causes Them

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the principal muscle that aids cats and other animals in respiration. It is situated between the lungs and the stomach. A hiccup is a reaction of the diaphragm to a particular irritant. In humans, hiccups occur when we eat or drink too fast, drink carbonated beverages, or chew gum. The sound of a hiccup is produced due to the sudden closing of the vocal cords. Cat hiccups sound a little different than human, as their sound resembles squeaks.
Here are the most common hiccups causes in cats:

Eating Too Much Or Too Quicklyperson holding green plant with brown and white cat

If your cat overeats or rapidly devours its food, there’s a risk that the meal won’t be digested properly, resulting in excess air ingestion. Excessive air can irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups as well as vomiting and stomach upset.

To eliminate this cause, try to feed your cat smaller portions during several frequent feedings. If your kitten struggles with eating slowly, you can use different food puzzle toys.


In humans, hiccups can be caused by both physical and emotional factors, and felines are no different. If your cat gets anxious, it can start displaying unusual symptoms such as hiccups. The most common stress triggers for cats include changes in the environment, loud noises, and separation anxiety.

To help your cat with anxiety, consult a veterinarian, determine what’s causing the issue, and decide on the proper treatment.orange tabby cat lying on gray carpet


Hairballs are another common hiccup cause, which is specific to felines. Cats tend to ingest a lot of hair when they groom themselves, and this hair can sometimes cause the diaphragm to spasm, which results in hiccups.

If hairballs are causing your pet to struggle with hiccups, it’ll be helpful to brush your cat at least once a week and feed it food with higher fiber content. In addition, some veterinarians recommend using laxatives for cats that struggle with hairballs.

Cat Hiccups Symptoms

Here are the signs that your cat is having hiccups:

  • The pet makes a squeaking noise when it breathes
  • A spasm is visible or can be felt in the cat’s abdomen
  • It is having trouble breathing
  • When your cat breathes, it makes a sound that makes it seem like something is caught in its throat

Should I Be Concerned About My Cat’s Hiccups?

You have nothing to be concerned about if your cat’s hiccups are relatively rare and last for a short time. However, if your cat has frequent hiccups that seem to last longer than normal, it can indicate that the pet is suffering from some medical conditions and signal that you need to take your pet to a vet for observation. Some diseases and conditions that can cause hiccups include:

  • Ingestion of a foreign object
  • Severe allergies
  • Organ disease
  • Heart disease
  • Tumors
  • Neurological disorders
  • Parasites

It’s normal for cats to get occasional hiccups. But if you have any doubts about the hiccups themselves or you want to find out what’s causing them, contact a veterinarian and ensure your cat’s well-being.


What do I do when my cat has hiccups?

Provide your cat with water and food and leave it in a quiet space. The remedies that will help you stop hiccups address their cause (overeating, hairballs, or anxiety).

Is it normal for my cat to have hiccups?

Yes, cats can have hiccups just like us humans, but small kittens are more likely to get them than older cats.

What does it mean if your cat is hiccuping?

Hiccups are involuntary movements of the diaphragm that occur in response to an irritant.

Are cat hiccups bad?

Generally, hiccups are safe for cats, and there’s nothing to worry about. But if they occur relatively frequently and last for a long time, you should consult a veterinarian to eliminate the risk of underlying health conditions.