Cat coughing/gagging. I need advice.

Tatum

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 6, 2023
Messages
28
Purraise
20
Hey all, I am having a concerning issue with my cat. His name is Lincoln. Starting Thursday night, Lincoln starting to make a strange swallow motion. Several times while watching him he would “swallow” (like he would kinda stretch his neck out if that makes sense). At some point during that night I woke up to him making a noise somewhere between a cough and a gag. He puked a small amount of white foam. Then he went over and ate some dry food, but at some point later in the night he puked that back up. He’s done that gag/cough noise about three or four times, but that’s only when I’m around him. I may have missed more since I was at work all day yesterday. I came home to find another spot of puke, though I may have just missed it from the night before. When he gagged again yesterday evening I took him to an urgent care. Of course he didn’t make any noise while we were there so they could hear it. They did a physical exam and said he is perfectly fine physically, and that it could be any number of things causing this but they weren’t concerned, or they didn’t seem to be. They offered to do $400 bloodwork or just take him home and monitor him, thinking this will pass soon. I took him back home but the problem is I haven’t seen him eat or drink since I’ve gotten home yesterday evening from work. I know he didn’t eat while we were at the vet and I didn’t see him eat or drink when we got home last night. He may have overnight but I don’t know. He won’t eat this morning when I tried to feed him, though I leave food out all day since I’m gone for work. He’s also just not acting like himself in general. He’s more standoffish that usual. I just don’t know what to do.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2

Tatum

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 6, 2023
Messages
28
Purraise
20
Couple more things. He licks his lips sometimes like he’s eaten. Either I’m paranoid and he’s always done it, I just haven’t noticed, or this is new and a symptom of something. My other cat is recovering from having a herpes flare up with a URI. Maybe her being sick has affected him in some way although the symptoms are different.
 

di and bob

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
16,901
Purraise
23,599
Location
Nebraska, USA
Sounds possibly that he is having some nausea or possibly pain in his mouth or throat. Licking the lips is a sign of this. Did they check his throat and mouth while you were there? He might have something lodged in his throat. It could possibly be a sore throat from a URI. Does he have any other symptoms like watery eyes or runny nose? You would think they would see this though. I give my cats a dose of DMG to ward off URI's, I put it in a shared pack of Delectable Lickables in the stew flavors every morning. They have gone from several Uri's a year to none.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4

Tatum

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 6, 2023
Messages
28
Purraise
20
Sounds possibly that he is having some nausea or possibly pain in his mouth or throat. Licking the lips is a sign of this. Did they check his throat and mouth while you were there? He might have something lodged in his throat. It could possibly be a sore throat from a URI. Does he have any other symptoms like watery eyes or runny nose? You would think they would see this though. I give my cats a dose of DMG to ward off URI's, I put it in a shared pack of Delectable Lickables in the stew flavors every morning. They have gone from several Uri's a year to none.
He has no watery eyes or runny nose. I’m thinking he may be nauseous too. They looked inside his mouth and didn’t see anything. They did not look into his throat as far as I know. His temperature was fine as well. So without bloodwork or an X-ray it’s speculation for me.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

Tatum

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 6, 2023
Messages
28
Purraise
20
Sounds possibly that he is having some nausea or possibly pain in his mouth or throat. Licking the lips is a sign of this. Did they check his throat and mouth while you were there? He might have something lodged in his throat. It could possibly be a sore throat from a URI. Does he have any other symptoms like watery eyes or runny nose? You would think they would see this though. I give my cats a dose of DMG to ward off URI's, I put it in a shared pack of Delectable Lickables in the stew flavors every morning. They have gone from several Uri's a year to none.
Another thing I just remembered is he’s gone to the litter box twice this morning, but the second time he made a bit of a straining noise. My mother who saw him said it looked like his stomach was straining. He did end up using it, though.
 

di and bob

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
16,901
Purraise
23,599
Location
Nebraska, USA
That's good, you may entice him with extra water and set several small bowls around, they always check them out. If he strains and doesn't go, ask the vet about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of Miralax in some beaten egg yolk or liquid treat. It has always worked for my cats.
 

silent meowlook

TCS Member
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Joined
Nov 10, 2014
Messages
4,051
Purraise
7,729
Hi. I would return to the urgent care if your regular vet can’t see him. The not eating and drinking is a big deal in cats and they can get fatty liver disease fairly quickly.
I would discuss with the vet, taking an X-ray to look for a possible obstruction. Cats sometimes get intestinal blockages from eating things they shouldn’t or hair. Sonn my etching like that would be an emergency.

Is he urinating? Cats that can not urinate will often have owners thinking they are constipated when in fact they are straining to urinate. This can cause vomiting and nausea as the toxins build up in their body. This would be an emergency.

Coughing and gagging can also be caused by asthma and a chest X-ray is needed to rule that out. It can be an emergency if the coughing episode doesn’t resolve.

So, no matter what, I would get him back to the vet as soon as you can. I would not try giving anything by mouth until you are sure he isn’t obstructed.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8

Tatum

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 6, 2023
Messages
28
Purraise
20
Hi. I would return to the urgent care if your regular vet can’t see him. The not eating and drinking is a big deal in cats and they can get fatty liver disease fairly quickly.
I would discuss with the vet, taking an X-ray to look for a possible obstruction. Cats sometimes get intestinal blockages from eating things they shouldn’t or hair. Sonn my etching like that would be an emergency.

Is he urinating? Cats that can not urinate will often have owners thinking they are constipated when in fact they are straining to urinate. This can cause vomiting and nausea as the toxins build up in their body. This would be an emergency.

Coughing and gagging can also be caused by asthma and a chest X-ray is needed to rule that out. It can be an emergency if the coughing episode doesn’t resolve.

So, no matter what, I would get him back to the vet as soon as you can. I would not try giving anything by mouth until you are sure he isn’t obstructed.
Thank you for your thorough response. I’m at work but while I’m there, my family is watching him. After I made my initial post, Lincoln ate and he drank some water. My family said he’s eating a lot. As far as I know, he didn’t throw anything up. So I’m thinking those are good signs. When he went to the litter box earlier today, I think I did see a smallish amount of poop… But the second time he went in I just saw a drop. I never thought about him struggling to pee until your comment. Now I wonder if what I thought was just constipation was not being able to pee.

My family offered to take him to urgent care tomorrow. I work so much that it’s hard for me to monitor him like I want to.
What do you think since he’s eating now?
 

fionasmom

Moderator
Staff Member
Moderator
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Messages
14,245
Purraise
18,830
Location
Los Angeles
It can be hard to tell if the original problem of the gagging and straining is entirely resolved or not. I also wondered how they checked his mouth at the ER. Sometimes just holding the mouth open and peeking inside is not enough.

Make sure that your family watches to see that he is really peeing a normal amount. If they can, ask them to try to monitor all elimination. While we hope that Lincoln has come through this successfully, either of these situation could be an emergency.
 

lisahe

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Mar 23, 2014
Messages
6,228
Purraise
5,094
Location
Maine
Now I wonder if what I thought was just constipation was not being able to pee.
It sounds to me like he's constipated. One of our cats does similar things when she's constipated, particularly licking her lips. Constipated cats often feel nauseous and don't want to eat, which can lead to vomiting stomach acid.

How often does Lincoln usually have bowel movements? And what does he eat? Food with a lot of bone can cause constipation. So can lower motility, which comes with age. Does Lincoln drink much water? Ireland stays fairly regular with Vet's Best hairball relief tablets, which she eats like treats. They're not perfect but they've helped her tremendously. She used to go through phases where she was very, very picky about her food and/or didn't want to eat much at all. She still gets those every now and then but they're shorter and less severe, meaning that it's easier to entice her to eat.

On a final note, I'm in full agreement with S silent meowlook about being wary of coughing since it can be a sign of asthma, which is worth diagnosing early even the coughing is fairly infrequent and doesn't last long. (Ireland has asthma, too, and uses an inhaler, which minimizes her coughing episodes.)
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11

Tatum

TCS Member
Thread starter
Young Cat
Joined
Apr 6, 2023
Messages
28
Purraise
20
It sounds to me like he's constipated. One of our cats does similar things when she's constipated, particularly licking her lips. Constipated cats often feel nauseous and don't want to eat, which can lead to vomiting stomach acid.

How often does Lincoln usually have bowel movements? And what does he eat? Food with a lot of bone can cause constipation. So can lower motility, which comes with age. Does Lincoln drink much water? Ireland stays fairly regular with Vet's Best hairball relief tablets, which she eats like treats. They're not perfect but they've helped her tremendously. She used to go through phases where she was very, very picky about her food and/or didn't want to eat much at all. She still gets those every now and then but they're shorter and less severe, meaning that it's easier to entice her to eat.

On a final note, I'm in full agreement with S silent meowlook about being wary of coughing since it can be a sign of asthma, which is worth diagnosing early even the coughing is fairly infrequent and doesn't last long. (Ireland has asthma, too, and uses an inhaler, which minimizes her coughing episodes.)
I’m sorry to get back to you so late. I haven’t seen your reply until tonight. Lincoln has doing much, much better since the last time I posted. He’s drinking water even as I type and he eats. He hasn’t puked since my original post, although he does still sneeze occasionally. I don’t really see him use the litter box a lot, but I think if he were it would have become apparent by now.
 
Top