Here Is What You Do If Your Cat is Choking

Choking is a serious and life-threatening situation for any animal, including cats. It occurs when an object blocks the airway and prevents breathing. Choking can be caused by various things, such as food, hairballs, toys, or other foreign objects. If you notice your cat choking, you need to act quickly and calmly to help her. Here are some steps you can follow to save a choking cat.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Choking

The first thing you need to do is to determine if your cat is actually choking or just coughing or gagging. Some signs of choking in cats are:

  • Inability to breathe
  • Coughing forcefully
  • Drooling or gagging
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Collapsing or losing consciousness

However, some cats may make choking-like sounds or movements when they are not really choking. This can be due to other reasons, such as a hairball, a respiratory infection, asthma, or a laryngeal spasm. To differentiate between choking and other conditions, you need to check your cat’s mouth and gums. If you see an object stuck in her throat or her gums are blue or pale, she is likely choking. If you don’t see anything in her mouth or her gums are pink, she may have another problem that requires veterinary attention.

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Cat

If you confirm that your cat is choking, you need to try to remove the object from her airway. The best way to do this is to perform the Heimlich maneuver, which is a technique that applies pressure to the abdomen to dislodge the object. Here are the steps to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a cat:

  • Wrap your cat securely in a thick towel or blanket, leaving only her head exposed. This will prevent her from scratching or biting you.
  • Hold your cat with her back against your chest and her feet hanging down.
  • Locate the soft spot between her ribs and her belly, where her diaphragm is.
  • Use both hands to give five quick and firm thrusts in an upward direction, towards her head.
  • Check her mouth to see if the object came out. If not, repeat the thrusts until the object is dislodged or your cat starts breathing normally.
  • If the object is still stuck, try to gently pull it out with your fingers or tweezers, being careful not to push it further down.
  • If your cat is unconscious, check her pulse and breathing. If she is not breathing, perform CPR by giving mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions.

How to Prevent Choking in Cats

The best way to avoid choking in cats is to prevent them from accessing or swallowing objects that can cause choking. Some common choking hazards for cats are:

  • Craft supplies, such as pom-poms, pipe cleaners, or yarn
  • Rubber bands, paper clips, staples, or coins
  • Plastic bags, cellophane, or foil
  • Bottle caps, wine corks, or straws
  • Small toys, bones, or balls

To prevent choking in cats, you should keep these items out of your cat’s reach and supervise her when she is playing with toys. You should also avoid giving your cat human food that can be too large or hard for her to chew, such as nuts, popcorn, or meat chunks. Additionally, you should groom your cat regularly to reduce hairballs, which can also cause choking.


Choking is a rare but serious condition that can affect cats. If you notice your cat choking, you need to act fast and calmly to help her. You can try to remove the object from her throat by performing the Heimlich maneuver or using your fingers or tweezers. If your cat is unconscious or not breathing, you need to perform CPR and take her to the vet as soon as possible. To prevent choking in cats, you should keep choking hazards away from your cat and monitor her when she is eating or playing. By following these tips, you can keep your cat safe and healthy.

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