Should You Take Your Gagging Cat To The Vet? (the cause could be fatal)

If you have a cat who is gagging then what’s the deal? Should you take them to the vet or can you instead opt for a wait-and-see approach?

cat looking like it’s gagging with the vet Dr. Alex asking the question: gagging cat - vet or wait?

“My cat's been gagging for two and a half days and is not herself. Do I need to go to the vet or can I wait for them to cough up whatever's going on?”

Well, let's start by saying gagging is not a normal thing for a cat to do and it could definitely represent a problem with maybe the back of the mouth, the throat, or the upper intestinal tract, so the upper esophagus and that kind of area.

The gagging could be due to a foreign body, so something that has been swallowed or stabbed into the back of the mouth. It can be a bit of stick, bone or grass seed.

The problem could be an ulceration, it could be an injury, it could be severe dental disease, it can be nerve problems. There's lots of things that can be going on and it's not normal!

Finally, cats can sometimes do strange things and gagging could easily be confused for a cat who is struggling to breath, again due to a mass in the throat, but also due to diseases like asthma or heart disease.

So whatever the problem is, it is also clearly affecting this cat and so it's definitely better to get her checked out and checked over sooner rather than later. It’s problems in this area that can become much harder to treat if left for some time and they can cause real problems that can be potentially be life threatening as well.

Quite aside from this, the cat's clearly unwell and is potentially in pain, we don't want to leave our pets in pain and distress do we?

Don’t take the fact that the cat's still eating (I didn't mention that, but this cat is still eating) as a sign that it's only a minor problem or a sign that there's no pain.

While it may well be minor in this case, cats will often continue to eat despite being in extreme pain or having a serious disease. Something I often say to my clients is that a cat doesn't know that if they stop eating, their owner's are going to take them to the vet and get their problem sorted out. They simply know that they need to eat to survive.

So just think then how bad or how painful the disease has to be before they feel like they can't eat anymore and they stop eating!

We don't want to leave it to get to that point and that goes for any disease really. If we're getting onto it sooner rather than later, then there's a better chance that the treatment is going to be more simple, it's going to be less involved, it's going to be therefore cheaper, which is something that we all want. But also your pet's not going to be in pain or they're not going to be feeling unwell for a prolonged period of time.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having pets brought to me who have been suffering for a long, long, time and then they're really past the point of no return or a lot of money needs to be spent where the prognosis is only maybe guarded and so the owner elects for euthanasia rather than treatment. Whereas if they brought them to the vet sooner, it might have been a simple course of tablets that would have fixed them. So definitely think about that.

We don't want to sit on these things that are causing our pets pain or that are causing our pets to feel unwell and they're clearly not happy. We want to be getting them checked out and that's definitely my advice in this case as well.

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr. Alex Answers Show” podcast.

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