Dysphagia in Cats
If severe enough can very easily cause deformity of the head

Dysphagia in cats can cause gagging, drooling, as well as regurgitation. It can also cause one of the most frightening sounds you will ever hear from your cat; coughing.

However, if it becomes bad enough, it can cause your cats head, neck and mouth to become extremely painful.

If it is severe, it may also lead to deformities in the head or the neck of your cat.

This very dangerous condition comes in different forms; oral, pharyngeal, cricopharyngeal, which affects the end of your cat’s pharynx, as well as neurological.

In most of the cases it can be treated, however, there may some instances where it cannot.


Dysphagia in cats is best described as a condition where it has become very difficult for your pet to swallow.

In some cases, it may be just a localized problem of some kind, but it can also be the first sign you see that your cat may have a very severe underlying illness.

It is a situation that needs to be taken with a real sense of urgency.

This is true even if it first appears to be only a mild or temporary condition.

The reason for this is quite obvious, until your cat is thoroughly examined, it can very easily place their life in jeopardy.

If it suddenly increases in severity it is no life threatening. 

In fact, in some cases, even once it is identified, you may have to assist your cat in eating properly or they may develop aspiration pneumonia.

Aspiration pneumonia is an extremely serious condition on its own, as it may result in food being inhaled into your cat’s lungs.

There are numerous symptoms with dysphagia that will be able to see and identify.


The first symptom of dysphagia in cats is usually drooling. Drooling is extremely uncommon in cats and is always a warning sign that there is something wrong with their mouth.

However, this form of drooling will be even more uncommon, as it may also have blood in the drooling saliva.

Cute KittensThe cause of dysphagia in cats depends of the type

Gagging is the next potential sign of dysphagia in cats that you will see, followed very quickly by your cat starting to drop food from their mouth.

In some cases, the food may not actually drop, but instead it will start to collect on the sides of their mouth.

Any time you see any of these symptoms, your cat is having a very difficult time in swallowing.

However, this is only the beginning of the signs, as the next set will start to surface.

This will include regurgitation of their food as well as your cat suddenly demonstrating different chewing motions as they are trying to reduce the size of the food so they can swallow it.

This will lead to the next symptom, coughing. Coughing is perhaps the worst sound you will ever hear from your cat, even if is slight, and it is a real warning sign that something is terribly wrong with them.

If the dysphagia in cats is becoming severe, your cat will start to completely lose their appetite, and as a result, start to lose weight.

Nasal discharge may start to occur next, as well as a very rapid and growing pain around their head, neck, as well as the mouth.

If it is considered extreme, your cat will start to develop deformities in their head and neck, and if these signs appear, it may be too late for your cat.


The most common form of dysphagia in cats is oral, and this may be the result of several different forms of dental disease, a paralysis in your cats jaw or their tongue, or something happening to their chewing muscles.

This can be the result of a swelling that is occurring with these muscles or something much worse; they are wasting away.

However, it may also be the result of some type of a trauma that has affected your cat’s mouth, tongue, or another structure of their mouth.

The trigeminal nerve is the main chewing nerve in your cat, and it can be affected by all of these potential underlying causes

The most common dental disease that triggers oral dysphagia include glossitis, which is inflammation of the tongue, or gingivitis, inflammation of the gums.

It may also be stomatitis, which is the actual inflammation of the mouth itself.

If your cat has oral dysphagia, they will begin to eat their food in an altered manner, and this will include tilting their head to one side as they eat.

However it may also besomething much more drastic; throwing their head backwards while they eat.

If you see food beginning to become packed in their cheek folds, they have oral dysphagia.

Pharyngeal dysphagia in cats is quite different, as with this type they can easily grab their food, but they will have to make repeated efforts to swallow it.

The telling signs of this form are when your cat flexes and extends their head and neck while eating in an attempt to swallow.

This will cause two things to occur; excessive chewing and gagging. Your cat’s food may also become lodged in their cheek folds, but in this type it will be coated with saliva.

There is another warning sign with this form; snorting.

As your cat tries to swallow they will have a diminished gag reflex that will cause them to snort.

The causes of this form of dysphagia may be from pharyngeal inflammation, some type of an abscess, or an enlargement of the lymph nodes behind their pharynx.

It may also be the result of cancer.


Cricopharyngeal dysphagia in cats is yet another type, and this is entirely different than the first two forms.

In this form, your cat may be able to swallow after several tries, but they will begin to gag.

Once they gag, they will begin to cough to the extent that they will throw the food back up.

However, unlike the pharyngeal dysphagia, this gag relax is considered to be normal.

There is one very telling feature about cricopharyngeal dysphagia; your cat will become thin very quickly.

There is one of form or type of dysphagia that can attack your cat; neurological.

If your cat has the neurological form it has two major causes; some type of a brain disorder or they have rabies.

If they have either, you will have a very difficult decision to make as they have very little chance of surviving.

The most critical factor with dysphagia in cats during the treatments will be to keep your cat properly nourished.

This will include providing proper vitamins and mineral supplements to maintain their health as well as their weight.


If they are on a feeding tube during the treatments, you will have to ensure that you feed them several small meals daily in an upright position.

You will need to maintain this upright position to prevent aspiration pneumonia, which is a condition where food enters their lungs.

If you do catch this potential devastating condition early, in most case it can successfully be treated.

Pet Medications for Dysphagia in Cats

Cat Vitamin Store

Aspiration Pneumonia in Cats