(Bloomington, IN USA)
Hello, Dr. Neely,
I have an 8 year old male cat who has recently started gagging while eating but also while not eating (not licking fur even but just laying there). When he does this, it scares him and he stops eating and even hisses at himself. He has started to lose weight. What might be causing this?
I certainly understand your concern for your cat. Without seeing him in person for an examination, it is hard for me to say what might be causing the gagging and weight loss.
If it were just gagging and just occurred occasionally, I might mention hair balls. But this sounds too frequent and too severe and the accompanying weight loss concerns me.
Therefore, other possible causes of the gagging include obstructions or partial obstructions in the throat, which could be from a foreign object or a mass.
Some cats gag from increased salivation, which can occur in normal cats when they purr or are happy, but this doesn't sound like that.
Another possibility, considering his age and the fact that he is losing weight, is that your cat may have feline hyperthyroidism, causing his weight loss, and may even have a nodule on his thyroid, causing the gagging. Your veterinarian would be able to find out if this is the case by examining him and running blood tests.
There are more causes of weight loss in cats than I could even list here and a few other causes of gagging. The most important thing I can tell you is that it is not normal and is of concern and your kitty should be seen by your veterinarian right away. It could be something treatable and some very treatable things become untreatable if you wait too long to bring your in for an exam.
An exam, possible blood work, and possible x-rays of his throat and chest could give you much needed information. I hope you'll make an appointment right away.