4 Ways to Help Stop a Cat Dry Heaving

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We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for yourself. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As a Chewy affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What are the best ways to help stop your cat dry heaving?

These are the four main ways:

  • Brushing to remove excess hair and fleas
  • Flea and worming treatment
  • Improving diet
  • Reducing boredom

There are a lot of reasons for a cat dry heaving, and it’s best to speak with a vet to learn more about possible solutions to the problem.


4 Ways To Stop A Cat Dry Heaving

In this article, I’ll walk you through the solutions to help stop your cat dry heaving.

I’ll talk more about why your cat is dry heaving and provide you with my product recommendations to help with the problem.

My name is Derrick, and I write for Simply Cat Care. Our goal with this website is to help cat owners learn more about taking care of their cats.

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions relating to your cat’s health.

Let’s get into the article.

What is Dry Heaving?

Dry heaving is when your cat is attempting to vomit.

The dry heaves include coughing and gagging.

Many cats will dry heave occasionally if they have a hairball.

Alternatively, cats dry heave when they eat too quickly. This is usually mild and doesn’t persist with any other symptoms.

However, it can be a sign of a more serious problem for cats that require veterinary attention. Let’s look into this a bit further.

A cat dry heaving

Why is My Cat Dry Heaving Without Vomiting?

Dry heaving without vomiting is due to a variety of reasons that include:

  • Hairballs
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Parasites
  • Stress
  • Gastroenteritis

Let’s look at each possible cause in more detail:

Why Is My Cat Dry Heaving: Hairballs

Cats clean by grooming themselves, which may result in hairballs.

Most of the fur your cat ingests passes through the digestive system without harm, although it sometimes accumulates and causes problems.

Hair is made of keratin, a tough protein that resists digestion. Some cats may retch as often as once a week to remove hairballs.

Despite the name, hairballs are cylindrical in appearance as they take the shape of the esophagus.

When To Call A Vet?

Call a vet if:

It is possible your cat has a complete blockage from a foreign body they aren’t able to cough up.

A cat dry heaving.

Why Is My Cat Dry Heaving: Nausea

Cats experience nausea on rare occasions which may result in dry heaving.

Here are possible reasons for nausea:

Wet food spoils faster than dry food if left out for too long. Make sure that you always portion out your cat’s wet food in amounts they will eat in one sitting.

Many foods are poisonous for cats and can also lead to dry heaving and vomiting. Cats are obligate carnivores and have a harder time digesting many plant-based foods such as onions and garlic.

Check out my guide on foods you should avoid feeding your cat for more.

When To Call A Vet?

Call a vet if:

  • The problem lasts several days
A cat with nausea

Why Is My Cat Dry Heaving: Parasites

Parasites include worms and other single-celled organisms.

The symptoms of parasitic infection include (among dry heaving):

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Itchiness around the anal region
  • Pale gums
  • Distended abdomen

Parasites are found in the environment of your cat. Common sources include:

  • Fleas
  • Feces
  • Pests (e.g. rodents, snails)
  • Other cats

Check out my guide to treating cat fleas if you suspect this is a problem.

When To Call a Vet?

Call a vet if you notice any of the following:

  • Pale gums
  • Distended abdomen
  • Coughing
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Frequent diarrhea

Your vet will run diagnostic tests which involve blood examination that help identify the cause of the problem.

A cat scratching

Why Is My Cat Dry Heaving: Stress

A cat dry heaving is sometimes a sign of stress from their environmental conditions.

Cats are susceptible to stress-related problems, just as humans are.

Most cats enjoy the following:

  • Predictable routine
  • Opportunities for play (e.g. trees, toys)
  • Consistent feeding routine
  • Avoiding loud disruptive noises
  • Space to move around
  • A clean litter tray
  • Not being poked and prodded by little children or held improperly

Research has found that providing a cat with a predictable routine that includes time for play can reduce the risk of feline interstitial cystitis.

This health condition can lead to a cat dry heaving and urinating frequently.

Proper access to outside playtime is necessary for a cat’s lifestyle and can help reduce the risk of this medical condition.

A predictable normal feeding routine helps your cat stay stress-free. Check out my guide on how often to feed your cat for more information.

When To Call a Vet?

Call a vet if your cat is dry heaving for multiple days.

A timid cat.

Why Is My Cat Dry Heaving: Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (i.e. stomach, throat, colon).

Cats with gastroenteritis have symptoms that include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry heaving (with or without vomit)
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Lethargy

Parasites are one possible cause of gastroenteritis which I discussed earlier.

Alternatively, a foreign body from anything lying around the house could be the culprit.

Gastroenteritis may also be a sign of serious medical issues such as:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer

In the case of liver disease, this problem leads to symptoms that include:

  • Pale gums
  • Increased thirst
  • Head pressing
  • Jaundice

Jaundice is a skin yellowing condition that is due to excess bilirubin (a bile acid stored in the liver) leaking into the bloodstream. This gives a yellow tinge to areas of the body.

When To Call a Vet?

Gastroenteritis is a serious issue that needs medical attention.

Any of the above symptoms warrant calling a vet for a check-up. I’ll list them again:

  • Pale gums
  • Increased thirst
  • Head pressing
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal pain (tender stomach)
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Frequent vomitting
  • Lethargy
A vet holding a cat.
Contact a vet for help if you have a cat dry heaving frequently with other symptoms such as loss of appetite, pale gums, and lethargy

What Can I Do To Help Stop My Cat Dry Heaving?

There are four strategies that help stop your cat dry heaving:

  • Brushing to remove excess hair and fleas
  • Flea and worming treatment
  • Improving diet
  • Reducing boredom

Keep in mind:

These strategies are preventative measures for your cat dry heaving and experiencing the issues discussed in this article (e.g. nausea, parasites, gastroenteritis)

As the saying goes:

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’

If you suspect your cat has dry heaving it’s best to go visit a vet for the right treatment as there are many reasons for the problem.

With that said, let’s get into the main preventative strategies to help stop your cat dry heaving.

How to Stop Dry Heaving Tactic 1: Brushing/Grooming

Cats have to groom as it’s their way of cleaning themselves.

So you can’t stop this (nor do you want to).

Invariably, your cat is always going to ingest some hair through the process of grooming.

However:

By brushing your cat you help remove excess dead hair and skin.

This helps to ‘lighten the load’ of hair your cat ingests, reducing the risk of hairball build-up.

Brushing a cat.

How Do I Brush My Cat to Reduce Hairballs?

Brushing your cat should be a pleasant experience for your feline friend.

Start slowly by working a small area of the back that your cat is more likely to be comfortable with.

Use a small treat to reward your cat for being calm and enjoying their brushing.

You can ‘squish your cat’ to help get them prone for brushing, but if they start to get uncomfortable or you notice signs of anger (e.g. tail swishing) back off.

If you continue to have a hard time with brushing, talk with your vet for advice.

Brushing a cat.

What Type of Brush Do I Need to Groom My Cat?

You need the right type of brush for your cat’s coat length.

For short-haired cats, the following types of brushes work well:

  • Flea comb (fine toothed)
  • Soft slicker brushes
  • Grooming gloves

For long-haired cats, you may need to try the following:

  • Flea comb (wide toothed)
  • Harder bristled brushes

Remember your cat should always be comfortable, this isn’t meant to be painful.

Try to use your brush with care and take note of when it’s not comfortable for your cat.

Brushing a cat.

What Brush Do You Recommend For Grooming My Cat?

Best Overall Groomer to Stop a Cat Dry Heaving: Hertzko Self Cleaning Slicker Brush

Easy-to-use brush to clean matted hair

Works well on short-haired cats

Ergonomic grip for easy control

Affordable

One press hair removal from the brush

Hard to use with arthritis

May not suit some long-haired cats

Product Summary

This brush is an easy-to-use popular option for short and medium-haired cats.

I like that this brush retracts to release hair with one button press. This makes it easier to remove mats of hair quickly to get your cat clean.

The main downside of this product is it’s hard to use for owners with arthritis or muscle-related issues in their arm and hand (e.g. tendonitis). The button release mechanism needs to be pressed firmly to release the hair.

Here is a video of the product in action:

How to Stop Dry Heaving Tactic 2: Flea and Worming Treatment

Being proactive with your flea and worming prevention helps to reduce the risk of parasites.

Remember that parasites lead to a range of digestive issues that include:

  • Dry heaving
  • Coughing
  • Itchy anal region
  • Pale gums
  • Distended abdomen

Taking a scorched Earth approach to flea and worming prevention helps your cat stay healthy and parasite free.

How Do I Prevent Parasites From Infecting My Cat?

The main preventative steps for parasites are:

  • Vacuuming the entire house
  • Washing pet beddding
  • Dusting
  • Cleaning all surfaces around the house
  • Daily litter tray cleaning
  • Minimizing exposure to outdoor pests (e.g. rodents and snails)

One source of worms is fleas.

Fleas are carriers of hookworm parasites and transmit infection when your cat grooms (another good reason to brush your cat).

The fleas live in dusty areas around the house and cleaning helps get rid of these nuisance pests.

Unclean litter trays are also a source of infection as well as outdoor pests.

Check out my guide to flea treatment for more.

A cat scratching.

What Type of Treatment Do I Need to Stop Parasites?

The main way you stop parasites is with cleanliness and keeping your cat secure inside your property away from pests.

However, vets recommend regular deworming treatment every three months to reduce the risk of infection.

It’s suggested to use a worming treatment regardless of whether you suspect an infection or not.

If fleas persist to be a problem contact your vet for treatment options.

Check out my best cat dewormers for help finding the right medication for your cat.

Learn more about home remedies for flea treatment over here.

A cat with a vet.

How to Stop Dry Heaving Tactic 3: Improve Your Cat’s Diet

Improving diet helps to stop your cat dry heaving.

The following things help:

  • Puzzle feeders to slow eating
  • Smaller meal portions to prevent overeating
  • Giving your cat a feeding routine (reduce risk of overeating)
  • Low fiber foods
  • Avoiding food intolerances and allergies

Puzzle feeders help slow your cat’s eating. If your cat is a fast eater they may be getting nauseated.

Many cats in the wild feed on small meals throughout the day from small prey. A cat’s intestines are less distensible. This means they cannot tolerate high-volume foods as well as humans.

Having access to large food portions may be too much for your cat to tolerate.

Puzzle feeders are one solution to this problem.

A puzzle feeder provides smaller portions of food spread over the day.

A cat with a puzzle feeder.

How Can Food Choice Stop Your Cat Dry Heaving?

A low fiber wet canned food helps reduce vomiting.

This is because this type of food contains less volume and does not overtax your cats small digestive system.

Cats are obligate carnivores and thrive off the consumption of animal-based foods.

In the wild, they feed off small prey such as birds and fish.

Not surprisingly, cats tend to enjoy and tolerate these animal-based products better than grain-based foods that are high in carbohydrates.

Dry or wet cat food with limited ingredients helps to eliminate the potential for irritating foods. Most cat food has a wide array of ingredients that provide a source of food intolerance.

Read more about the best cat food for hairballs for more.

A woman with her cat.

What Cat Food Do You Recommend For Grooming My Cat?

Best Cat Food to Stop a Cat Dry Heaving: Feline Natural Variety Pack Grain-Free Wet Cat Food
Feline Natural Variety Pack Grain-Free Wet Cat Food, 3-oz pouch, case of 12

Premium grass-fed meat for top taste

Low in carbohydrate for weight control

3 unique choices in the pack to cut boredom

No grains or legumes for easy digestion

Easy to swallow pate texture

Omega 3 from green mussels for gut health

Pricey

Exotic flavors may put off some cats

Why is this product a good choice for a cat dry heaving?

Let’s take a look at Feline Natural Variety Pack Grain-Free Wet Cat Food.

I recommend this product because it’s a limited ingredient food with premium animal based foods. This is easy for cats to tolerate and digest, which reduces the risk of hairballs and food intolerances.

The food contains a variety of flavors to keep your cat from being bored.

The main downside is this is a little on the pricey side, but may be worth it for the high quality nutrition and reduced risk of health problems.


A cat eating from their bowl.

Best Dry Cat Food to Stop a Cat Dry Heaving: Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Herring

Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Herring Grain-Free Dry Cat Food, 5.6-lb bag

High protein for strength and energy

Low carb for easier digestion

Carrageenan-free for sensitive stomachs

Strong smell out of the bag

Why is this product a good choice for a cat dry heaving?

Let’s take a look at Tiki Cat Born Carnivore Chicken & Herring.

Tiki Cat Born Carnivore dry cat food is a great option for intolerances. It’s a high meat dry cat food which doesn’t contain any fillers or by-products.

There aren’t any major downsides to this product aside from the occasional mixed taste reviews and strong smell out of the bag. There are a small amount of added peas and chickpeas which some cats may not approve of.

How to Stop Dry Heaving Tactic 4: Improve Your Cat’s Environment to Cut Stress

Cats experience stress just like humans.

Cat’s love to climb and survey their environment. When they don’t have many opportunities to play or are exposed to stress (e.g. loud noises) it increases stress and the risk of health issues like dry heaving.

Adding a cat tree and extra toys is a great way to reduce stress and tackle stress-related health problems such as dry heaving and vomiting.

Check out my best cat trees for large cats for more and my best toys to cut out stress.

A cat resting.

When Should I Call a Vet About My Cat Dry Heaving?

All of the above strategies help prevent dry heaving among other health problems.

However they can’t guarantee your cat stays healthy.

If your cat experiences problems that persist, book a visit with your vet for help.

The following are worth investigation:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Frequent diarhhea
  • Coughing
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of appetite

A veterinarian examination involves a physical examination of the mouth to see if there is any obstruction of the throat (with an examination of the stomach).

Ultrasound and bloodwork are other diagnostic tools used to identify other problems (e.g. parasites).

Laxatives may relieve a hairball. A veterinarian prescribes antibiotics to treat infections if needed.

However, more serious obstructions may need surgical intervention (e.g. foreign body obstructs throat or lower intestinal tract).

If you suspect your cat has ingested a poison, you will need to call a poison hotline. This is because the problem may require urgent help. Your cat dry heaving might be a sign your pet is trying to eliminate a toxic substance.

A cat with a vet.

How To Stop Your Cat Dry Heaving Quick Guide

Here’s my quick guide to stopping your cat dry heaving:

  1. Groom your cat daily with a slicker brush to remove excess hair and skin
  2. Deworm your cat every three months to reduce the risk of parasites*
  3. Clean your cats environment to get rid of fleas. This includes:
    • Daily litter box cleaning
    • Dusting
    • Vacuuming
    • Washing pet bedding
    • Clean surfaces
  4. Slow down your cat eating with a puzzle feeder and serve smaller meals (3-6 meals per day)
  5. Feed your cat a limited ingredient, low fiber cat food to reduce vomiting risk
  6. Avoid giving your cat leftovers which may lead to vomiting and dry heaving
  7. Improve your cats enviornment to reduce stress, including:
    • Cat trees for more space to roam
    • Cat toys to reduce boredom
    • Less stress (e.g. don’t put your cat around children)

*Deworming is recommended even if your cat doesn’t have symptoms of worms

If symptoms persist, contact your vet for help.

A curious cat.

Conclusion: How to Stop a Cat Dry Heaving

In this article, I’ve talked about some solutions to cat dry heaving.

What are the best ways to help stop your cat dry heaving?

These are the four main ways:

  • Brushing to remove excess hair and fleas
  • Flea and worming treatment
  • Improving diet
  • Reducing boredom

There are a lot of reasons for a cat dry heaving, and it’s best to speak with a vet to learn more about possible solutions to the problem.

The main causes of dry heaving are:

  • Nausea
  • Hairballs
  • Parasites
  • Stress
  • Gastroenteritis.

A cat may also be intolerant to ingredients in many cat foods, which lead to digestive problems.

Regular brushing is helpful to remove excess hair and dirt that may accumulate on your cat. This may alleviate hairballs forming if done regularly.

Changing your cat’s diet to a higher-quality animal protein diet might also tackle any food intolerance-related problems.

A flea treatment routine that involves thorough vacuuming, cleaning, and clinically approved medication help to curtail the risk of parasitic infections.

Improving your home to include more spaces to climb and play (e.g. cat tree) may lower stress and reduce the risk of a cat dry heaving.

If none of these methods help to alleviate a cat dry heaving, seek out veterinary advice.

A cat.

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Disclaimer

We may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for yourself. As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As a Chewy affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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