Why Do Cats Gag at Combs?

Cat being combed

Cat owners tend to be concerned when they see their cats gagging. After all, it indicates that something is seriously wrong. Furthermore, gagging can be caused by a wide range of issues, meaning that there is a huge element of uncertainty as well. To name a particularly unusual example, interested individuals should know that it is possible for cats to gag at the sound of combs. Something that sounds very strange but is nonetheless very real.

Why Do Cats Gag At the Sound of Combs?

For starters, it is useful to mention some things about a cat’s sense of hearing. On the low end of things, they can hear things about as well as humans. However, the interesting thing about a cat’s sense of hearing is that they can hear much higher-pitched sounds than we can. In fact, they are even better in this regard than dogs, which is amusing when the latter’s ability to hear higher-pitched sounds than we can is literally the reason that “dog whistle” sees use for the political concept. It isn’t hard to see how a cat’s superior hearing would’ve been beneficial for its wild ancestors. After all, they are obligate carnivores that need to eat on a regular basis. As a result, cats’ wild ancestors needed to be capable of catching small birds, small mammals, and other kinds of prey on a regular basis. Otherwise, they would starve. A cat’s superior hearing enables it to pick up on things that we would miss. Something that is particularly true when combined with their ability to move their ears, which makes it possible for them to focus on the source of a sound in a way that we cannot hope to match.

In any case, it has been claimed that the sound of combs bothers cats for a couple of reasons. One, the sound of combs resembles the sound of rodents. Unsurprisingly, that kind of things causes a lot of cats become worked-up. Two, the sound of combs has the exact frequency needed to make their larynx vibrate. Put together, these two things can cause cats to start gagging when they hear the sound of combs. That isn’t guaranteed to happen because different cats react in different ways. However, that happens to enough cats that the phenomenon has become at least somewhat well-known to people who spend a lot of time watching cat videos as well as checking out cat-themed miscellanea. For that matter, it has been said that some cats react to the sound of combs with aggression, so that is something that interested individuals might want to keep in mind. Exposing their cat to the sound of combs isn’t just unpleasant for their cat. If they are unlucky, they could also wind up on the receiving end if their cat chooses to lash out because of it.

Other than this, it should also be mentioned that certain kinds of high-pitched sounds are apparently capable of causing a kind of epilepsy called Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures (FARS) in cats. The sound of combs is one of these high-pitched sounds, but it is far from being the only one. Cats over the age of 15 seemed more susceptible to this than their younger counterparts. Similarly, Birmans and Birman-descended mixes seemed more susceptible as well. Regardless, FARS can cause cats to fall into a number of potential states. For example, they might shake as well as lose control of their limbs while foaming from their mouth, which would be the classic form of seizures that everyone should be able to recognize. Alternatively, they might lose awareness of their surroundings for a short while, with the result that they are just left staring vacantly as though they aren’t all there. Unfortunately, it is also possible for the affected cats to suffer more subtle jerks and spasms, which are much more difficult to notice because they are so much less dramatic than the other possibilities.

What Can You Do About This?

If cat owners are concerned, they might want to bring their cat to their veterinarian. As mentioned earlier, gagging can be caused by a wide range of issues. Due to that, while they might assume that their cat’s gagging is caused by their cat’s exposure to the sound of combs, that isn’t guaranteed to be the case. It is possible that their cat is being affected by something else. Even worse, it is possible that their cat is being affected by something else that could worsen over time unless it is treated in time. This means that cat owners should bring their cat to their veterinarian in order to get an expert’s opinion on the matter. Once they are sure that they know what is going on, they can be sure of being recommended an actually effective course of action by a veterinary professional. As for seizures, those should be considered even greater cause for concern. Naturally, that means that cat owners should be even faster about bringing their cat to their veterinarian.

Regardless, if the cat is indeed reacting poorly to high-pitched sounds, cat owners should do their best to avoid exposing their cat to high-pitched sounds. This means avoid making sounds with their comb as much as possible because that is unpleasant for their cat. Moreover, this means that they might want to spend some time looking up common sources of high-pitched sounds in the home. We don’t have the same auditory range as our feline companions, meaning that there are a lot of high-pitched sounds that we would completely miss but might wind up bothering them. As a result, it is a good idea to look into the issue rather than miss out on something that we just can’t detect. Besides this, interested individuals should also make sure that their cat is getting all of the things needed to ensure their continuing good health. That means a nutritious diet paired with plenty of exercise. Furthermore, that means bringing their cat with them to their veterinarian for preventative healthcare on a regular basis. Health is connected, so it is very much possible for an issue to spread from one component of a cat’s well-being to another. Something that needs to be watched out for.

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