An orange cat yawns on a floral pillow.

How to Protect Your Cat from Choking

Cat emergencies are common, considering their inquisitive nature, and it is important to identify an issue quickly and take action. One frequently occurring cat emergency is choking, which has a rapid onset of symptoms and short window of time to alleviate the blockage.

Choking is a life-threatening emergency caused by an obstruction that keeps air from entering the lungs. This can result from ingestion or inhalation of an item that obstructs the airway, preventing normal breathing. Without oxygen for a prolonged period of time, a cat may enter a coma or even die.

Some cat owners may believe that their pet is choking due to breathing difficulties brought on by other ailments, such as feline asthma or congestive heart failure. The most important thing to understand is that if you believe your cat is choking or having trouble breathing, it is always an emergency and action needs to be taken immediately.

Here are the causes of choking in cats, what to do if your cat is choking, and how to prevent choking:

Causes of Choking in Cats

Choking is caused by an obstruction of the airway. This is most often from a blockage in the neck, inhaled foreign body, throat swelling, or foreign object caught in the throat.

Symptoms of Cat Choking

Symptoms of choking can vary, but generally include anxiety and very obvious distress, in addition to gasping for air, gagging, drooling, and difficulty swallowing. Lack of air and injury to the lung may also cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), which is precipitated by nerve stimulation and potentially life-threatening.

Best Ways to Reduce the Risk of Choking

The best way to prevent your cat from choking is by keeping potentially sharp or dangerous items out of their reach and away from their throats. Never feed your cat bone-in food items and always ensure that any collar you utilize is a quick-release collar.

Quick-release collars have a mechanism that opens the collar when extreme pressure or force is exerted, which can help to prevent your cat from strangulation or serious injury.

What To Do if Your Cat is Choking

If you notice that your cat is choking, do the following: