My Cat Keeps Gagging But Nothing Comes Out

The sight of a cat gagging but nothing coming out can be concerning.

In order to understand why this is happening, it’s imperative to answer these questions.

  • How long has the cat been gagging?
  • Does she sound hoarse when she meows?
  • Does she eat and drink like normal?
  • Is she experiencing discomfort passing feces?
  • Does she show signs of pain when you press on her belly?

Having answers to these questions will make it easier to pinpoint why your cat keeps gagging but nothing is coming out.

My Cat Keeps Gagging But Nothing Comes Out

Why does my cat keep gagging but nothing comes out?

Below are potential causes of the problem based on your answers to the above questions.

1. Hairballs

If the cat is gagging and nothing comes out but doesn’t have an issue drinking or eating, the most likely reason is the presence of transient foreign bodies (e.g. hairballs). 

There are a few hairball treatments you can use or you can embrace the use of natural remedies. Using a natural lubricative to get rid of hairballs is quite easy. Just add a teaspoon of safflower, fish, or flax oil to her food. This will coat the hairball allowing it to pass through the cat’s digestive system quite easily.

Alternatively, you can increase her dietary fiber by adding a spoonful of tinned pumpkin into her food. This aids in pushing hairballs or other irritating materials through the gastrointestinal tract and out for the body.

2. Foreign bodies in GI

More often than not you will spot your feline friend eating bugs or chewing strings and plastic materials. These materials can cause blockage in the gastrointestinal tract and your cat will try to push them out by vomiting or dry heaving.

Symptoms of foreign bodies stuck in the GI include signs of gastrointestinal pain, abdominal swelling, discomfort passing feces, and refusal to drink or eat. You should take her to a veterinary clinic immediately. These signs point to obstruction caused by foreign items or in some cases signs of intestinal twisting, which can be extremely painful and fatal.

3. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) is most likely the cause if the cat displays signs of abdominal pain when you gently press her belly. The tricky part, however, is the fact that she isn’t vomiting. You will need veterinary help to determine whether your cat is indeed suffering from this condition.

Signs of gastroenteritis in cats include vomiting (the vomit is often yellow or white foam), loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, dehydration, and diarrhea. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, the best course of action is to consult your local veterinarian as quickly as possible.

4. Tracheitis

If your cat produces a hoarse voice when gagging then the most likely cause is tracheitis (infection of the trachea). Viral-induced tracheitis often settles after a few weeks but bacterial-induced tracheitis needs antibiotics and in some cases feline-friendly anti-inflammatories.

5. Nausea

Another probable cause of feline gagging without vomiting is nausea. Cats experience the problem just like humans, and in some cases, they try to throw up but can’t. The causes could be excessive eating, acid in the stomach, or eating spoiled food. If these are the causes then you do not need to worry because the gagging often goes away on its own.

Final thoughts

If your cat keeps gagging but nothing comes out, you should have her treated for hairballs while your monitor her state. If she does not settle and starts showing other signs such as tracheal irritation, vomiting, or abdominal pain, you should have her examined by your local vet. The cause of constant gagging could be something other than hairballs and antibiotics and other medications might be needed.