My cat has suddenly started hiccuping.
May 5, 2008 12:09 PM   Subscribe

My 6.5 year old cat has developed a hiccup problem. I've never before witnessed her hiccuping but in the last 2-3 weeks I've seen it multiple times. I know you are not my vet.

She seems entirely unperturbed by the hiccups. She makes no noise when she hiccups. I have noticed no difference in behavior, eating habits, litterbox habits, or anything else.
She does have an affinity for any sort of plant of the live or dead variety, EXCEPT of course things I actually offer her, such as cat grass. I try very hard to keep live or dead plant matter out of the house or otherwise out of her reach for this reason, because the eating usually turns into some mild puking. It has been suggested she craves the ruffage because she's a longhaired kitty, but I feed her good, balanced food and give her an furball supplement.
She has a fairly serious catnip addiction but I limit her intake.
She has heretoforth been very healthy EXCEPT for allergies -- in the spring and fall she gets a little bit sneezy and wheezy. I have allergy pills for her but the fallout of trying to give them to her far outweighs any benefit.
I will gladly take her to the vet if it is recommended necessary, but there's a problem. She's a doll and a sweetheart with me, but HATES being restrained or examined. HATES to the extent that the 3 vets in the area that we've patronized will no longer see her unless she's been sedated first. It's a big pain that involves the aforementioned pill-giving and is basically an all day ordeal that leaves her upset and anxious for up to a week afterwards. So, what do you think about cat hiccups that have suddenly occurred? I googled and found plenty of info saying that cats who hiccup in general are fine, but those sources all seemed geared to cats that have ALWAYS hiccuped, not had sudden onset of semi-regular hiccups later in life.
posted by Soulbee to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
I wouldn't be worried, as long as her eating/potty/sleeping habits are stable. You mentioned that she gets sneezy in the spring, and since it's spring right now that could account for it. (Unless you live way far away; in that case, discard.) Just keep an eye on her and it should be okay.

(Disclaimers: Not a vet, obvz. Own a cat who is practically our daughter, and if she were hiccuping I wouldn't worry.)
posted by SamuelF at 12:24 PM on May 5, 2008

This could be caused by her scoffing her food too quickly or it could be a by product of the sneezing reflex (allergies). You mention her addiction to plant material, it's possible that she has got a bit of plant material (blade of grass etc) stuck in her throat (have you got a new plant that she could have got to? has she secretly eaten some cat grass without you seeing?).

She might have a tooth problem that is changing how she eats her food and that is causing her to swallow lots of air. If there is something pressing on the phrenic or vagus nerve, this could cause it also or it could be due to an anatomical change at the back of her throat. So if she is hiccuping enough to worry you, I'd recommend that you do take her to the vet and ask them to examine her (mouth/pharynx) under proper sedation.
posted by Arqa at 12:51 PM on May 5, 2008

The hiccup reflex is (I heard on some radio science show) the same set of coordinated muscle actions that froglings use to switch from their gills to their lungs. That suggests that all vertebrates have it, it mostly doesn't hurt them, and there's nothing much you can do about it.

I wouldn't put her through a vet visit unless your worries about the hiccups outweigh your worries about restraining her.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 12:51 PM on May 5, 2008

this is way out of left field but i thought i'd heard once that excessive hiccuping in humans could be a sign of stomach cancer or something. That could be totally false. but that is primarily what is causing my worry. I'm just not sure if it's worth the cost of the sedation, not to mention whatever tests they have to do to make sure her hiccups aren't malignant. thanks for the advice thus far.

There has been no introduction of plant material recently. Sometimes I track leaves inside; that is her primary source. I am unable to examine her teeth except to get a peek while she yawns, and nothing seems amiss. She does occasionally eat then drink so quickly that she boots up her food still fully formed and not at all digested......
posted by Soulbee at 1:19 PM on May 5, 2008

If you are worried about such possibilities as stomach cancer, maybe you should speak to the vet on the phone to get the straight dope on it. Give as full a description of her hiccups - how often, duration, when etc, as you can. Furballs might also be a cause of her hiccups, so maybe a thorough grooming might help?
posted by Arqa at 1:29 PM on May 5, 2008

Our cat mysteriously started getting mysterious hiccups when she was about 3-4 years old. This was at the same time we got a dog and she got less grooming from us. About a month or two later, she started coughing up furballs. Similiar?
posted by tickettrader at 1:44 PM on May 5, 2008

she's always had furballs. doesn't tolerate grooming with tools at all, but i regularly give her a vigorous hand petting which removes an astounding amount of very soft, fine white cat hair. still she has issues with the furball thing, even with furball supplement. no change noticed there. i think if i call my vet, they'll just tell me to bring her in no matter what.
posted by Soulbee at 1:47 PM on May 5, 2008

Ever had the hiccups for a prolonged period of time? It HURTS.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:22 PM on May 5, 2008

Have you had your cat checked for asthma? Especially if she's already has allergy issues. (My poor kitty has a coughing problem, due to asthma, which could easily be mistaken for hiccups. I give her chicken flavored medicine daily, she sort of enjoys motivated cat + she knows it makes her feel better)
posted by iamkimiam at 9:56 PM on October 28, 2008

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