My cat is continually gagging and is ill – Please help

My cat is continually gagging and is ill – Please help

by Brandy
(Edmonton, AB Canada)

Cookie as a baby (was abandoned by her mother)

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Cookie as a baby (was abandoned by her mother)

My cat is displaying behavior that clearly shows she is sick. But even after many tests at the vet no one has any idea why. Her name is Miss Cookie, she is 6 and if anyone has any ideas it would be so helpful.


She started out gagging and throwing up puddles of saliva (nothing else, no vomit). She was still eating good and having bowel movements. After one week of this I took her into the vet where they said she seemed in good health but there were a bunch of tests they could run.

I didn't want her to go through them if she didn't have to so I took her home. The vet at this point was convinced she had pancreatitis.

The gagging continued but the intensity went down. She was really hyper, playing lots. Eating good and still having regular bowel movements. On the Friday (2 weeks of the gagging) she became lethargic. She was still gagging but never throwing up saliva or anything else. We brought her into the vet and got blood work. The vet mentioned this time she was a bit dehydrated so they also gave her fluids.

The blood work came back and I was told everything was really great except her white blood count was slightly elevated. This meant it was not pancreatitis. The vets were now convinced it was a foreign body.

I really didn't think so since my Cooks has never been one to eat things she shouldn't. She wouldn't even eat grass. But they wanted to do more tests I told them I would think about it. That night cookie worsened very quickly she could barely hold her head up and wouldn't eat anything. The next morning I rushed her into the vet where they did an x-ray and saw nothing out of the ordinary.

Finally getting the vets off that it was a foreign body. They wanted to do an ultrasound but it was a lot of money so I asked they just to treat her with antibiotics just in case it was just a small infection.

She improved a lot after getting the antibiotics. That night she was walking around checking stuff out again. She had a small appetite again. I was so hopeful she would keep getting better. It is now 4 days after the antibiotics and no new improvements.

She is still gagging, she has little appetite where she mostly just licks the broth off the food (which i have been watering down to get more liquids in her cause she is no drinking water) I am just hoping anyone out there has had any experience like this and can help me.

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Hi Brandy... thanks for visiting and asking. I am sorry to hear that Miss Cookie is ill. I'll try and shed some light on the problem. But your vet has done test and now wants to do ultrasound tests - is that to check heart condition?

The one consistent symptom throughout is gagging but no vomit.

The fact that the blood test proved OK would indicate, as the vet said, a physical problem, namely a foreign body. An X ray was taken, which did not show a foreign body.

Where was the X ray taken? What if it is a small object, a difficult to see object, such as string, bone splinter, gristle, sliver of wood, pin, a fish-hook or part of a toy that is stuck in the throat or mouth or tongue. Depending on how far down the throat a object is logged the cat will gag or extend the neck on swallowing and choke on swallowing. Is your cat also pawing at the mouth, drooling, licking lips and/or holding the mouth open? Are these signs present?

Clearly if the X ray was of the throat area and that was all clear, this line of inquiry is wrong. But you might like to check with a good light source and gently open Cooker's mouth.

Larvae of the common feline roundworm that are swallowed, after migrating up the windpipe, can cause bouts of gagging and coughing.

"Vomiting" (and Miss Cookie gags which is a form of vomiting) that is not associated with eating can be caused by an infectious disease, kidney or liver disease or a central nervous system disorder1.

I will presume that the blood test were to check for an underlying disease. But the most common cause of vomiting is the swallowing of an indigestible object. An underlying infectious disease would show other symptoms I would have thought. But Miss Cookie has one consistent symptom - gagging. This leads to not eating properly which in turn leads to health issues.

My conclusion based on what you say is that you might re-visit the idea that it is small foreign body lodged in the throat.

See also: Cat Vomiting


1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook page 188.

Michael Avatar

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My cat is continually gagging and is ill - Please help

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Feb 11, 2011 Update - thank you for your responses
by: Brandy -


I just wanted to give an update. The Vet prescribed me Sulfate to give to my little girl and this was to coat her throat and help any healing process. She really hates it but now a week later and she is almost back to her old self.

I believe the antibiotics worked but were just slow and the sulfate helped a bit. I am taking her in monday for a recheck and i'll probably request one more shot of antibiotics but I am not worried any more.

So to help anyone else in my situation. Know your gut feeling is probably right. You know your cat better than anyone else. The vet will always push the most likely scenario even if you know it doesnt fit for your cat. If i were to go through this again When i brought her in for blood tests i would have demanded the antibiotics then. What does it matter what it is as long as your kitty gets better. As long as you are closely monitoring the animal i dont see why my cooks had to go through all those tests when all she needed was antibiotics. do you research and if pancretitis or a foriegn body doesnt fit for your baby ask for antibiotics right away and monitor their progress (i do recommend getting the blood test right away). if they dont improved within 24 hours then pay for all the expensive tests (xray, ultra sound, exploratory tests) This situation has really opened my eye. The vet wants the answers and wants you to get all the tests possible but thats their job. All you really care about is getting your baby back to good health so use your best judgement and ask a lot of questions.

Thank you again for your responses. 🙂

Feb 05, 2011 Miss Cookie
by: Ruth

Michael is right in all he says.
The only advice I would add is to take her to see another vet at a different practice or ask your vet to refer you to a cat specialist vet.
Yes it will cost you but it might save Miss Cookie's life.
We saw 4 vets we trusted, at the same practice with one of our cats a few years back, none could diagnose her problem. By the time they refered us to a specialist vet it was too late, she died on the way.
It could be something as simple as a tiny object stuck in her throat, ask if the vet will do an endoscopy (which checks from her mouth right down to her stomach)
The new vet would be able to get the case history and test results from the other vet.
Good luck.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

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