Dry heaving is a term that describes the act of vomiting without any actual production of vomit. Dry heaving commonly associates with cats. If you notice that the cat is dry heaving, the cause could be due to many factors.
It could indicate that he wants to expel a hairball. If that is not the case, it could be some more severe pathology such as heart disease, asthma, allergies, etc.
Cat Dry Heaving No Hairball
Have you noticed your cat making gag reflexes, and nothing comes out? If you have implemented all precautions to prevent hairballs, such as regular grooming, the below could be the possible causes of dry heaving.
Infections and Allergies
Allergies can cause shortness of breath and dry heaving in cats. They stem from the inhalation of chemicals, pollen, smoke and can cause nasal congestion.
Your cat might also develop itchy skin, rashes, swollen limbs, sneezing, or coughing. Such symptoms can be seasonal and depend on the cause of the allergy.
You can treat allergies with steroids, antihistamines, or steroid ointments. Find the allergen, and reduce your pet’s contact with it.
Respiratory Tract Infections
Some respiratory tract infections specifically affect cats and may lead to dry heaving if no hairballs are in play. Respiratory infections may result from bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and treatment will be given by the nature of the pathogen.
Asthma or Breathing Disorders
Asthma in cats can cause heavy and challenging breathing, which can usually occur after intense exercise sessions. But it is manageable, thankfully, but its its early diagnosis and detetction is mandatory. Consult a veterinarian if in doubt.
When your cat exposes to high temperatures, he may fail to regulate his body temperature adequately, so he could suffer from heatstroke. The cat will have dyspnea, convulsions, lethargy, and dry heaving as symptoms.
It is necessary to lower the temperatures immediately as heatstroke can be fatal. Use some room temperature packs, but notice packs. Avoid leaving the cat in hot temperatures. Ensure he stays in the shade on sunny days.
What To Do
Cat dry heaving with no hairball can result from several problems, some less serious than others. To make sure you take the necessary precautions and keep a cat healthy, you need to pay close attention to why the animal is panting and note all other symptoms.
See your vet immediately if your cat exhibits the following symptoms:
1. Dry heaving signs accompanying wheezing
2. No hairballs expel, and the cat continues dry heaving
3. Dry heaving continues for more than 48 hours
4. The cat appears tired, does not eat or drink
5. The gums become dark (bluish)
If the cat displays any accompanying symptoms above, it is essential to take him to a veterinarian.
Cat Dry Heaving But Not Throwing Up
It’s hard to tell the difference between dry heaving and vomiting in cats, but here are some indicators. When they are experiencing dry heaving, their gums are bright pink, their eyes are bright, and they have a regular breathing pattern.
If they are vomiting, there will be clear or milky fluids coming out of their mouth or nose. They may also have a hunched back with an arched neck, have lethargy or mild depression, and have foam in their mouth.
Cats can dry heave without throwing up for a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes is stress. Cats are naturally sensitive animals, and if they’ve been through a traumatic event such as being lost or abandoned, it’s not uncommon for them to begin to suffer from panic attacks.
These feelings may cause them to react by vomiting even though they feel nauseous, but nothing comes up. Another possible cause of this behavior is eating disorders such as pica. Other causes and underlying health concerns to watch out for:
Shortness of breath usually have linkage with several heart problems. A dry heaving, for example, could have congenital heart disease. Feline heartworm disease is another culprit.
You can treat this parasitic disease with corticosteroid therapy, drugs that reduce inflammation. Sometimes if the cat cannot breathe, it may be necessary to resort to oxygen therapy.
Congestive heart failure
In this case, dry heaving and breathing problems result from fluids in the lungs and around the cat’s lungs. Fluids build up when the heart fails to pump blood properly.
Treatment consists of draining excess fluids and dilating blood vessels, which allows the heart to contract again normally.
Drugs prescribed for this disease include diuretics such as furosemide and medicines that improve heart function, such as enalapril. To prevent the disease, make sure your cat gets enough taurine.
Viral or bacterial respiratory infections
If your cat has a virus or bacterium, he may dry heave and have severe breathing difficulties. In case of bacterial infection, the vet may prescribe antibiotics.
Among the natural remedies, steam and humidifiers are very effective. A humid environment at home will help loosen the cat’s mucus, which will help them breathe more quickly.
Feline infectious peritonitis
The FIP is a viral disease that causes the accumulation of fluid in the body. Unfortunately, there is no cure. The effectiveness of the vaccine is still under discussion, which is why many veterinarians advise against it.
In the case of FIP, the vet can only prescribe glucocorticoids to relieve the symptoms of the virus.
The rupture of a duct of the lymphatic system in the chest can lead to fluids pouring into the chest. The cat would have dry heaving as one of the FIP symptoms.
What to do
The best thing is to have your vet look at your cat to find out what’s wrong. There are many reasons cats might experience dry heaving without throwing up, the most common being that they are nauseous or have indigestion.
Cats typically throw up when they are nauseous, which is not the case with indigestion.
Call the vet if the cat dry heaves with no hairball, accompanied by severe symptoms such as shortness of breath. If you notice other symptoms, such as a cough and open mouth, call your vet or email him, describing any suspicious signs.
He will tell you what to do to ease the breathlessness and if the cat needs a visit to his office and other tests. In addition to a physical exam, the vet may need to do electrocardiograms, X-rays, and blood tests.
Cat Dry Heaving and Won’t Eat
Cats are notorious for not eating when they are sick, so sometimes they’ll vomit without throwing up to clear out their digestive tract, which will help them feel better.
Loss of appetite is common when the cat is dry heaving with no hairball.
When a cat begins to experience persistent dry heaving, he is highly likely to start refusing food. Some cats might lick the food and then refuse to eat it While others may have a lack of appetite.
Some cats smack their lips or dry heave after eating while some might have trouble keeping food down.
In the absence of timely medical care, the cat may lose his appetite completely. Long-term loss of appetite should be risky in any animal, but it is a very delicate condition in cats, as it can cause severe liver problems.
Many factors can lead the cat to loss of appetite (gradual or sudden). However, dry heaving will be a sign that will help the guardian to understand that something is wrong.
In these cases, it will be necessary to go to the vet urgently. The most frequent causes of a cat dry heaving and not eating are:
If your cat looks healthy and is not eating and throwing up, the condition is most likely a result of a change in diet or an inappropriate diet.
Keep in mind that the proteins you offer your cat must also be suitable for human consumption. Many people feed their cats the scraps from slaughterhouses (skins, hooves, beaks, feathers, etc.).
This practice will result in persistent dry heaving (and sometimes with actual vomiting) by the animal and refusal of food.
This is an inflammation of the stomach. It can stem from both prolonged fasting and the intake of poor-quality foods.
Anyone living with a cat should make sure that they offer their pet quality foods that meet all of their pet’s nutritional needs.
When feeding him, it will be necessary to pay attention to the time because if the cat eats at certain times, the production of gastric acids will increase, causing gastric inflammation and vomiting.
The pancreas produces the enzymes necessary for digestion, and when this function is compromised, the quality of life of the feline decreases considerably. One of the hallmark signs of pancreatitis is persistent vomiting.
Tumors in any part of the digestive system will cause persistent vomiting in the cat.
What to do if the cat dry heaves and won’t eat
If your cat is dry heaving with no hairball and suddenly loses his appetite, there are a few things you can do while you wait for the vet to wait for you:
Heat their food, felines are very receptive to smells, and the reheated food could help stimulate their appetite. Offer them some treats or food that they are not usually eat and that you know they love.
For example, if your cat eats only dry food, offer him a can. Gently slamming the food bowl on the floor helps increase the aroma of the contents and makes it more palatable for your feline.
We should also make them as comfortable as possible by stroking them or giving them a heated pad if they want it. As always, make sure they have easy access to fresh drinking water.
Cat Dry Heaving but Eating
Cats love their food, but some cats may experience dry heaving before or after eating. This is when your cat will act like they are vomiting, but nothing comes up.
One possible explanation for this behavior is that your cat may have eaten something it shouldn’t have. These items might include plants, human food, or even medication.
Some cats might also be allergic to certain foods. Sometimes, this type of event will come after the first time your cat ate a new food or medicine.
But does dry heaving make a cat more hungry? Well, there is no scientific evidence to prove this. However, many pet owners have found that their pets become more interested in food after a bout of vomiting.
Experts believe that dry heaving may stimulate the brain’s appetite center and make the cat eat more afterward. There is no evidence for that.
Hunger could also be the consequence of a wrong diet. If you are feeding him poor quality food by dry heaving yet maintaining an appetite, the little one shows you that diet is unsuitable for him.
Dry heaving that doesn’t affect appetite could also be a symptom of other diseases: from ‘ hyperthyroidism to intestinal parasites to other intestinal infiltrative forms. Also, in these cases, we have the furry cat examined by a specialist.
As part of the diagnosis, your veterinarian will seek to know when and how often your furry buddy dry heaves. Has your cat lost a lot of weight?
Does diarrhea also occur, or has the color of the feces changed?
This gives an initial indication of the possible cause. A blood count also helps provide more information – inflammation values, kidney values, and indications of allergies and parasites.
The vet can take a fever or use imaging techniques such as ultrasound or X-rays. Last but not least, he can also do a gastroscopy to determine ulcers.
As part of a diagnosis, your veterinarian will seek to know when and how often your darling vomits and whether it is food, hair, or mucus. Has your cat lost a lot of weight?
Does diarrhea also occur, or has the color of the feces changed? This gives an initial indication of the possible cause.
The vet can take a fever or use imaging techniques such as ultrasound or X-rays. Last but not least, he can also do a gastroscopy to determine ulcers.
On the hot summer days, food spoilage happens so quickly. Leftover food remains and spoils, so dry heaving occurs when your velvety paws claw on these foods.
Feeding cats leftovers from the table should be a big no-no. Make sure that your cat cannot help itself.
Make your home and garden cat-safe: Poisonous plants should disappear from the cat household, household cleaners should be out of reach for your four-legged friends.
Also, if you want to prevent your cat from vomiting, be careful not to eat too fast or too large a portions. This risk is exceptionally high if you have several velvet paws and you are jealous of food.
Feed your cats separately in separate rooms with locked doors. A feeder that reacts to the animal’s chip can also help.
Cat Dry Heaving and Breathing Heavy
To understand what is happening, you will need to back passageyze what the cat’s breathing looks like. A cat breathes faster than humans.
While felines can take between 20 and 30 breaths at any one time, the average respiration for an individual is between 12 and 16 breaths per minute.
If your cat is dry heaving with no hairball, you can measure his respiratory rate at rest-just put your thumb on his chest. Keep in mind that each breath means exhalation and inhalation.
If the cat is doing more than 30 breaths per minute after or before dry heaving, this can be a cause for concern.
There are three types of breathing in cats that are worth discussing in more detail.
Dyspnea can be classified as the cat having difficulty catching his breath. You will notice louder breathing with your cat opening his mouth.
His chest and belly may move more than normal, and their nostrils may flare up. Cats with this condition may expand their necks and heads to absorb oxygen and may have difficulty sleeping.
The causes of this disease are numerous. The first is tracheal disorders, which can occur when objects become trapped in a tender panel, the trachea.
Disorders are another cause, which can occur due to tumors, bleeding, or disease. Possibilities include diseases of ailments from the torso to the lungs and stomach.
Regardless of the cause, it is vital to consult a veterinarian.
Tachypnea – Rapid, shallow breathing
This type of breathing in cats involves shallow, rapid breaths. If accompanied by dry heaving, causes may include fatigue, lethargy, or poor oxidation.
If your cat’s breathing increases by more than 40 breaths per minute over some time, this can be a cause for concern, and help from a veterinarian will be needed.
When there is a cause, it is possible to calm your cat by removing the object of his fear, including dogs. Their breathing rate should return to normal. However, when he doesn’t calm down, you should take your cat to the vet.
Panting – Rapid mouth breathing
Much like discussed earlier, panting is the same but with the mouth. While cats don’t pant like dogs, this sometimes happens once they’ve participated in many exercises or have had trouble outdoors.
Another reason behind the panting is the condition of the lungs or heart.
Panting in cats could be that they are feeling sexy-when they are on heat and not close to a mate, the sexual stress may be accompanied by dry heaving. Anxiety is another cause, which means you may notice your cat panting when on the road to the vet or vehicle.
What to do
If your cat is lying about not doing much or there are no discernible reasons for his dry heaving and heavy breathing, this can be cause for concern.
You should be on the lookout for any negative effects such as wheezing that indicate that all is not well with your kitty. Ensure your cat has access to fresh drinking water and a relaxed, comfortable place to rest.
If the dry heaving and panting sessions persist, call a vet/.
Respiratory treatment will typically be done on a case-by-case basis. If the issue is stress, keeping your cat away from stressful conditions could be a case. If there is a disease, then prescription drugs are useful.
Cat Dry Heaving When Purring
In most cases, the behavior is not bad at all. If your cat keeps dry, heaving, and purring shortly after eating, it doesn’t have to be a severe disease.
You should worry if your cat starts to dry heave while purring long after eating and very frequently. There could be a problem with the respiratory and circulatory organs that quietly and secretly destroy your cat.
Parasites in lungs
These are lungworms and those that migrate in the body of their cats to their breathing organs. Think about when the last deworming was done and have it done if necessary. If the rattling and choking stop afterward, parasites were most likely the cause.
This is the accumulation of fluid in the space between the walls of the chest and the lungs. It can be due to various causes that decrease the lung space, preventing this vital organ from performing its function well.
Some of the causes can be cardiac arrest, neoplasms, and accumulation of pus in the pleural cavity.
If your cat continuously dry heaves when purring, the vet will perform a chest puncture to extract all the free liquid in this space.
They will seek to treat the cause that produced this problem because if only the fluid is removed, but the cause is left untreated, the space will most likely fill with fluid again.
Cats can become infected with warms that affect the lungs or heart. An infected cat can make a hissing sound as he breathes due to the pressure of the worms on the lungs. Dyspnea is present mainly during the night.
The blood backs up, and water passes into the lungs. The cat tries to get rid of this by coughing; the shortness of breath can also lead to a rattle.
Older cats are particularly affected. Not every small change requires going to the veterinarian. Pay attention to circumstances – does your cat seem apathetic? Is he still active?
Does he eat and drink (a cat should never go hungry for more than 48 hours. Otherwise, severe metabolic disorders can occur)? Does the behavior stop after minutes, or does it persist?
In principle, going to the vet is always preferable, if the symptoms persist for more than a day or if the cat is restricted in behavior.
Yes, your cat dry heaves while purring, leading to choking noises. You may be facing a condition called rhinotracheitis. This is a respiratory disease that produces symptoms such as:
6. Lack of appetite
Your vet can recommend fluid therapy, back passagegesics, antibiotics, and anything else he deems necessary to stop the infection as soon as possible.
If your cat does not want to eat, it would be best to offer him soft, warm food, such as minced boiled chicken, to make him more appetizing.
My Cat Keeps Gagging But Nothing Comes Out
There could be many reasons for this, some needing immediate veterinary attention. If your cat is gagging and nothing comes out, watch out for the following causes.
The cat ate too fast.
When your cat eats something too fast, large volumes of air will usually be ingested. This excess air gets into your cat’s digestive system and is usually excreted after a few minutes. This can happen either as dry heaving or as flatulence.
So dry heaving is very common in crouching cats. To encourage your cat to eat more slowly, you can, for example, feed him in a separate room if he is put under pressure by other cats while eating.
Another alternative is food bowls that have been specially designed for cats that are devouring. The middle of these bowls is usually slightly raised, making it difficult to swallow and tempting your cat to eat fewer large pieces.
Your cat ate too little, drank.
Not all animals have the same eating habits, and the owner must know the traditions of their feline. If you have several cats, you should check if a kitten finishes fast and eats the others’ portions.
The solution is simple: if there are multiple cats and one has this behavior, you must feed them in separate rooms. Ensure each cat has access to enough food and water.
Your cat has an irritated stomach.
One of the most common causes of dry cat heaving with no hairball is an upset stomach caused by ingesting spoiled food or food that your cat is allergic to.
An upset stomach can also be caused by parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal obstruction, or other illnesses. In many cats, the stomach will appear bloated when such a problem is present.
Other cats show different symptoms, such as diarrhea or vomiting.
If you observe such symptoms in your cat and they last longer than two days, a visit to the vet is due. The vet can determine what is causing this behavior and prescribe medication for your cat for relief.
In some cases, the cause of a cough is realized in the throat. In many cats, it is blades of grass that attach to the roof of the mouth. This type of cough is often dry and reminiscent of nausea/gag reflex.
It is often difficult for the observer to distinguish correctly whether the cat is choking or coughing.
With a bit of luck, such blades of grass can be swallowed during normal swallowing, but in some cases, they have cut deep into the roof of the mouth and cannot come out on their own.
The cats show strenuous swallowing and coughing, gagging for days. Then a visit to the vet is necessary to have the blade of grass removed under anesthesia.
Why is My Cat Dry Heaving?
Among the health-related phenomena that can affect our four-legged friends, dry heaving is undoubtedly one of the most common because it is a protective instinct that aims to free the respiratory tract from foreign bodies, mucus, or microbes.
As seen earlier, the causes can be numerous. Trivial annoyances often trigger it. It can be a symptom of more severe diseases, which it is critical to diagnose as soon as possible. Apart from those listed before, below are the other possible reasons why your cat is dry heaving.
1) Mycoplasma infection
The disease usually becomes somewhat more severe when young cats are affected. Young, often unvaccinated cats are easily infected with cat flu.
A unique form, which unfortunately occurs very often, is caused by so-called mycoplasmas. The bacteria lead to protracted and severe bronchitis but can also spread to other organ systems.
Affected cats suffer from a dry cough, which can also cause severe coughing fits with shortness of breath. This disease requires antibiotic treatment for several weeks. You must call your veterinarian quickly before it affects other body systems.
2) Foreign Bodies
It is one of the most common causes because these particles can clog and irritate the cat’s mouth, nose, or throat, causing hoarseness or even dry heaving.
The episodes are sporadic or recur in specific situations, suggesting food stuck in the throat, dust, cigarette smoke, or other fumes.
3) Intestinal worms
One of the most common – and fortunately solvable – problems faced by cat owners are endoparasites, which can cause symptoms such as dry heaving, and diarrhea, accompanied by difficulty breathing.
How to recognize them? They are often detectable in the cat’s feces and, once their presence has been ascertained, it is necessary to proceed with deworming.
4) Acute / Chronic Bronchitis
Generally, acute bronchitis is an isolated case with rapid onset. It presents with sudden attacks of dry, deep, and continuous heaving.
The cat keeps the neck tense and produces tired sounds even while breathing, especially after physical movements.
Conversely, chronic bronchitis is more challenging to diagnose because it appears slowly and gradually and tends to go unnoticed at first.
The symptoms persist for several months, and the lesions caused by chronic bronchitis are irreversible; therefore, the cat will be forced to a continuous treatment for the whole course of his life.
This is the worst-case scenario, which, of course, can only be diagnosed by a trained veterinarian through proper tests and examinations. Some types of cancer can be treated with drugs, while others require immediate surgery.
What to Do
Attention to a cat’s dry heaving characteristics is vital because frequency, duration, and intensity are essential for making a good and quick diagnosis.
However, the only way to be sure of the triggering cause, and then proceed with the best treatment, is to contact your veterinarian.
Based on the description of the symptoms, specific investigations and exams may be required, which can range from simple blood and urine tests to CT, from magnetic resonance to bronchoscopy to directly observing the airways, or tissue biopsy, to detect or rule out cancer and other severe conditions.
How do you treat a cat that has dry heaving and no hairball?
Since various medical conditions can cause wheezing, it is essential to start an appropriate treatment plan.
The vet will ask you a few questions during the diagnosis and perform a physical exam to rule out allergies, foreign objects stuck in the trachea, and hairballs. Among the most common diagnostic tests are:
Depending on the underlying cause, treatment can range from medications to lifestyle changes. Among these are:
1. Inhalers for asthmatic cats or other medications
2. Antihistamine drugs for allergic cats
3. Surgery in case of respiratory block
4. Treatment to treat any infectious or aspiration pneumonia
5. Preventive grooming to reduce the formation of hairballs
How to Help Cat With Hairball
You are probably familiar with your cat’s daily washing ritual. He spends several hours a day licking his fur clean. The cat’s tongue has tiny barbs that he uses to remove dead hair from his fur.
The hair is swallowed and ends up in the stomach. In a majority of cases, hairball is the cause of dry heaving.
Why are hairballs a problem for my cat?
Ideally, the hair is excreted with the feces, but they can also clump together and form hairballs. These hairballs trigger a gag reflex in the cat – the animal chokes the hairballs out again and tries to vomit them.
They usually notice when the time has come because, to make the process easier, the cat chews up grass or other parts of the plant (with indoor cats, you should therefore make sure not to leave any poisonous house plants within reach of your cat).
You can clearly distinguish the hairballs; they are cigar-shaped and less liquidy. This is generally a completely natural process. Nonetheless, it might not be a pleasant process – not for you nor your cat.
Long-haired cats, in particular, often struggle with hairballs.
The change of coat is a time when there is increased dry heaving and vomiting of hairballs.
If your cat dries heaves or vomits several hairballs a month, it can cause discomfort to your cat.
In rare cases, the hairballs can lead to an inflammation of the stomach lining or even intestinal obstruction.
Ways to help a cat with a hairball
Check his feeding habits.
Check for loss of appetite. Be careful if the cat suddenly stops eating, especially when the phenomenon lasts for more than a day.
You should immediately take him to the vet to check if there is something wrong.
Check for signs of choking.
Pay attention to how he dry heaves. Cats that are choking on hairball dry heave in a particular position, usually by crouching and craning their necks.
If the cat often positions himself like this to cough our hairball without producing anything, take him to the vet.
The cat’s fur should be brushed regularly with a soft brush – for long-haired breeds, it is best to brush it off once a day.
In this way, you can keep him from swallowing large amounts of hair because a large part of the hair is removed from the fur in advance using the brush.
A cat that’s not drinking enough fluids may face problems when attempting to expel hairballs. Cats with the condition will often retch, cough, gag, vomit, or strain their neck, attempting to vomit but only producing dry heaves.
One way to help cats expel hairballs is by making sure your cat has enough water to drink.
A healthy cat should drink between eight and 10 ounces of water per day, which can be difficult if they don’t like drinking from a bowl. Try filling your cat’s bowl with filtered water and adding an ice cube or two for an extra-cool treat!
How to Help Cat Pass Hairball
There are many ways to help your cat quickly and effortlessly expel hairballs. Here is what to do:
Improve their digestion
To solve the problem, give the cat a salmon paste to help digest the hair. This product acts as a regulator of intestinal functions and as a lubricant so that the hairball is expelled with the feces; it is specially designed for cats, so you have to put some on your pet’s paw so he can lick it off.
Apply a small amount to the cat’s fur (usually, the exact dose is indicated on the package).
This type of pasta comes in several flavors that cats love, such as salmon, so you might even be able to get them to swallow it by simply spreading it on a plate.
Use half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of petroleum jelly for a cheaper solution.
This home remedy can act as a laxative, thereby helping the cat to expel the hairball. Apply some petroleum jelly on one paw so that the cat licks it, trying to smear it lightly on the fur so that it cannot shake it off.
If the cat can get the petroleum jelly off the paw without licking it, try applying it to a more complicated area, like under one of the front paws.
Give the cat 4-6 special hairball-removing treats to eliminate hairballs to prevent them from forming.
At pet stores, you can find several brands of dry treats to treat this problem, which are effective for both removing existing hairballs and preventing them from forming.
Follow the instructions on the package to determine how many to give to your cat. It is an optimal solution, as it is neither paste nor gel: your cat will not get dirty. It will simply have to swallow the morsels.
Once the problem is resolved, continue giving him the treats to prevent hairballs from forming in the future.
Add a tablespoon of pumpkin pulp to the cat’s food. Pumpkin is high in fiber which can help solve the hairball problem. Mix the cooked squash with his food, so he is more inclined to eat it.
Other options for increasing the cat’s fiber intake are wheatgrass, coconut fiber, or psyllium seed husks powder. Add about half a teaspoon of one of these products to wet cat food.
Does your cat often throw up, but no vomit comes out? This is called dry heaving and may be a symptom of hairballs. Hairballs in cats are usually caused by either grooming too much or eating too little.
The hair gets stuck in their stomach and is then regurgitated through the mouth.
But sometimes dry heaving in cats is not related to hairballs at all. If your cat is dry heaving with no hairball, it could be a sign of some kind of respiratory or circulatory problem that needs to be resolved quickly.
Please contact your veterinarian for advice.