Best 5 Causes Cat Gagging at Food

Cat gagging at food is a result of the cat perceiving the food as poisonous or distasteful. However, there are other causes for this behavior, including problems with the teeth and other oral health conditions. Other reasons for the gag reflex include being fed too fast or not being allowed to chew their food.

Cat owners should consult with a veterinarian if they suspect that changes to their cat’s diet result in gagging. Oral health conditions like tooth pain, abscess, and gum disease can typically be treated by a veterinarian who may prescribe antibiotics or other types of medications.

Why is my cat gagging at food?

There are several reasons why your cat may be gagging at food. Cats can experience motion sickness just like people, so if the pet is being fed while moving or there is a lot of activity nearby, it can trigger the gag reflex.

Another reason for this behavior could be related to poor dental health. This includes teeth pain, abscesses, and gum disease. If your cat is gagging at food, it should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian for further evaluation.

Gagging is characterized by the cat making repeated, unsuccessful attempts to swallow food while choking and gagging if you notice your cat reacting this way towards its food or treats, consult with a veterinarian to identify the cause.

5 Causes of cat gagging at food

There are many potential causes for cats gagging at their food. Some possible reasons may include: dental disease, nerve damage, Ingesting toxic substances, or esophagus disease. A cat that is gagging at its food may have one of the following conditions:

Nerve Damage

Peripheral nerve damage can be caused by various health issues, including diabetes, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, and kidney failure. If your cat is suffering from nerve damage, it will likely appear weak and shaky, may appear to have a loss of appetite, and may even be experiencing an increased heart rate. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis.

Dental Disease

Problems involving the teeth or gums can also cause your cat to experience issues while trying to eat. Dental disease can cause severe pain and discomfort and may also result in a condition called anorexia which is characterized by the cat having a loss of appetite.

If you notice that your cat is gagging while trying to eat, take it to a veterinarian for an evaluation as soon as possible.  

Esophagus Disease

If your cat is gagging at food, it may also have esophagus disease. This condition can be caused by some different issues, including inflammatory bowel disease, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug toxicity, and feline leukemia virus infection.

Frequently, cats with esophagus disease will have trouble swallowing, resulting in coughing, gagging, or vomiting. If you suspect that your cat has esophagus disease, consult with a veterinarian immediately.

Ingesting toxic substances

If you suspect that your cat may have been poisoned or has eaten a toxic substance, it is important to get the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Ingesting poisonous substances can result in an increased heart rate and seizures.

Suppose your cat ingests a toxic substance within one hour of being seen by a veterinarian. In that case, the animal should be administered activated charcoal to help absorb any toxins present in the digestive tract.

Feeding too fast

Overfeeding your cat can be another cause of its gagging at its food. Some cats are not allowed to chew their food properly before swallowing and may end up choking on large chunks of food. This can result in gagging and coughing, which can be a distressing experience for both you and your cat.

If you suspect that your cat is choking on its food, do not attempt to help it by reaching into its throat, as this may cause further injury. Instead, try to dislodge the blockage by gently stroking your cat back. After you have dislodged the blockage, take your cat to a veterinarian immediately for an evaluation.

How to help your cat stop gagging while eating?

Problems with gagging and choking may be avoided by following some simple feeding guidelines:

  • Cats should always be allowed to chew their food properly before swallowing it whole. Wet food is more likely to produce gagging in cats than dry food.
  • Please do not feed your cat too fast as this may cause it to choke and gag on its food. If you notice that your cat is having trouble eating, take it slow when feeding it by breaking the pieces into smaller chunks to have more time to chew and swallow its food.
  • If your cat is gagging at its food for no apparent reason, take it to a veterinarian for an examination. Sometimes the problem may resolve itself once your cat feels more comfortable, so do not be alarmed if this turns out to be the case.
  • Take note of how much you are feeding your cat. Overfeeding your cat may cause it to vomit, gag, or choke because there is too much food for it to swallow at once.
  • If you notice that your cat has trouble swallowing its food, take it to a veterinarian as soon as possible. You should also bring any leftover food so that the vet can evaluate if your cat is having any difficulty digesting it.

If you have a cat with chronic problems involving gagging and choking, consult with your veterinarian to see if they recommend a special diet for your cat that may be easier to eat. As always, feel free to share this article with your friends and family members who have cats, as they too can benefit from the guidelines provided here.

Remember that if your cat is gagging at its food, it may be trying to tell you something. If this happens regularly or any other changes in behavior please get in touch with your veterinarian for an evaluation as soon as possible.

Also Read:

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Ways to prevent a cat from gagging when eating


  1. Use a flat dish for your cat’s food. A wide, shallow bowl with low sides or a plate works best for preventing gagging and choking.
  2. Give your small cat meals throughout the day rather than one large meal. This will allow more time for chewing before swallowing their food and avoid choking and gagging associated with eating too fast.
  3. Try a different type of food if your cat is gagging on its regular diet. There are several foods available in pet stores that may be easier for cats to digest when compared to other types of commercial food.
prevent a cat from gagging when eating
prevent a cat from gagging when eating
  1. Consult your veterinarian to see if there are any prescription or special diets available if your cat is having chronic problems with choking or gagging.
  2. Visit your veterinarian to see if any conditions causing a blockage need to be addressed medically.
  3. If your cat is eating too quickly, start by feeding it small amounts of food and breaking the pieces into smaller chunks so that it has more time to chew and swallow before taking a large bite.
  4. Be sure to give your cat plenty of fresh, clean water throughout the day to avoid dehydration which may lead to gagging and choking.
  5. If your cat has difficulty breathing or swallowing after eating, take it to a veterinarian immediately, as this may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
  6. If your cat is an excessive gagger and it’s not due to a medical condition, consult with your veterinarian about trying some over-the-counter products designed to help cats stop gagging when eating, such as special food additives or enzymes like Beano, which break down indigestible carbohydrates in foods before they can be digested and cause gas.

Other Tips:

Always monitor your cat and be sure to take it to a veterinarian if there are any changes in behaviour that may indicate discomfort such as gagging, excessive salivation, vomiting, or convulsions – especially after eating – as these may signal an underlying medical condition.

Generally, you should feed your cat two small meals per day until they are about one year old and then switch to one larger meal per day.

Give your cat a few minutes after eating to make sure all of the food has been digested, and then remove the dish.

Tips for making food more palatable for cats with this issue

Some cats prefer their food slightly warmed up to make it more enticing.

  • Adding warm water to the dish may also make the food smell stronger and be more appetizing.
  • Try adding a spoonful of canned tuna or other fish juice to the food, as this often proves quite tasty for picky felines.
  • Cats should always have a bowl of fresh, clean water available whenever they eat, as dehydration is a common cause of gagging and choking.
  • If all else fails or your cat continues to gag at its food you may want to consider a soft diet such as baby food for cats which can be purchased at most pet stores.
  • Remember to monitor your cat’s eating habits and take it to a veterinarian if you notice any changes in behavior so that the underlying cause of the gagging can be identified.

Why Cat Gagging At The Smell Of Food?

Gagging is one of the most common problems with cats when it comes to food.  Cats can gag because they don’t like what is in their food or just because they feel ill.  If they are gagging, they either aren’t digesting their food or have something stuck in their throat.

Cats are gagging for a variety of reasons. Some cats may gag because there is something stuck in their throat, such as a hairball, or for whatever reason, it starts to feel sick and the only way to get rid of this feeling is to throw up.  

It may also be because your cat doesn’t like the taste of its food and will do anything to get rid of it.  Cats can also gag because they are sick or have an underlying health condition.


Is gagging badly for cats?

It is not good for cats to gag because if the food or whatever is making your cat sick gets stuck, it can cause a blockage. It may even make them choke, and it could kill your cat.

How do I stop my cat from gagging?

If you notice that your cat has been gagging more than usual, it is a good idea to take it to a veterinarian. If there is nothing wrong with your cat’s throat and it is just something they do, sometimes playing with their food will make them stop gagging as they become more interested in eating it.

What foods make cats gag?

Cats can gag at the sight of some foods because they don’t like them. In some cases, cats will gag for medical reasons.

Why do cats gag at the smell of cheese?

Some cats gag at the sight and smell of cheese because they don’t like it. It may also be a medical condition.

How can I stop my cat from gagging on its food?

If your cat is sick, you will need to take it to a veterinarian, but if it is just doing it for no reason, you can make the food more flavorful.

The Bottom Line

Cats will gag at the sight and smell of cheese because they don’t like it. It may also be a medical condition. Cats can gag for a variety of reasons. Still, suppose you notice that your cat is gagging more than usual or has been gagging after eating food.

In that case, it’s best to take them to see their veterinarian as soon as possible so that any underlying health conditions can be addressed without delay. If all else fails, try different foods with your cat; this might help stop the problem altogether!


Hi there! My name is Koushik; I am a cat lover. I specialize in writing about pet care & food. I have a wealth of knowledge on cat food niches and related subjects. I have worked in the pet industry for over 5 years and am passionate about helping cat owners provide the best care for their furry friends. With knowledge of cat food and nutrition, I aim to share their insights and help cat owners navigate the world of cat food niches. I enjoy playing with my two cats, reading, and exploring new cat food brands in my free time.

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