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Signs Your Cat is Choking & What to Do

Many cat parents fear the day they find their kitty as swallowed something they shouldn't have. Our Memphis veterinarians list the steps to take if your cat is choking and how to prevent it from happening again. 

Signs Your Cat is Choking

Most cats will show some combination of these symptoms if they are choking:

  • Coughing
  • Distress
  • Salivation
  • Blue mucus membranes (cyanosis)
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Gagging or retching 
  • Rubbing their face against the ground

Is your cat experiencing any of these symptoms? Follow the steps below and bring your pet to our animal hospital as soon as possible for emergency care

What To Do If Your Cat is Choking

Remove The Object if Possible

Restrain your kitty first. Choking cats will struggle, which may cause them harm. If they are choking due to a cord, string or other item being wrapped around the neck, carefully use a pair of scissors to cut it off. 

If your cat is choking on an object lodged in their mouth or throat, open the mouth to see if you can find the object. If you're able to see it, try swiping it away with your finger. 

If you cannot see it, don't try to poke your finger down your pet's throat in an effort to find it, as this can potentially cause injury. If you're unable to dislodge the object by swiping it away, do not try to push on it or poke it, as this can end up forcing it further down the throat. 

Heimlich Maneuver for Cats & Dogs

If you are not able to remove the object your pet is choking on, you'll have to do the Heimlich maneuver:

  • Lay your pet on their side.
  • Hold your pet's back against your stomach (head up, paws down).
  • With one hand, find the soft hollow under the ribs (your closed fist should fit into this spot).
  • Use the hand on your pet's stomach to pull up and in two or three times, toward your own stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.
  • Check the mouth to determine if the object has been dislodged.


If this doesn’t work and your cat loses their pulse, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until at the veterinary practice.

What to do After the Choking has Stopped

Even if you manage to remove the object that is choking your cat or dog, it is wise to bring your pet to the vet anyway. The vet will be able to ensure that the choking didn't cause any harm to your pet's body that you can't see.

Preventing Future Choking

To minimize the chances of your pet choking in the future, make sure to keep an eye on anything that could be a potential choking hazard.

Generally, dog and cat food is formulated with the animal's size in mind, but it's always a good idea to monitor them when they are eating anyway.

Monitor your dog or cat during play and make sure any toys do not include pieces that could break off and become potential choking hazards.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is choking and you are unable to remove the object, get to our Memphis veterinary hospital right away.

Animal Emergency Center in Memphis

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  • "I have had to come to Animal Emergency Center under several circumstances and have always been impressed with the staff and the care they provide."
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