Combs and Cats: Why Your Cat Gags at Combs

A fluffy brown cat with a comb in front of him

We all know that cats are finicky creatures, but some things can be confusing. One of these is why your cat might gag at a comb if you try to brush its fur. This article will help shed light on this question and answer the age-old question: Why do cats gag when they see combs?

Cats gag at combs because they have very sensitive hearing that can hear high-frequency vibrations. The sound of the comb is overstimulating for the cat, which causes them to gag at the sound.

Why Do Cats Hear High-Frequency Vibrations??

Cats have extremely sensitive hearing that can detect high-frequency vibrations. Their inner ear is specially adapted to hear these sounds, which are too high for human ears to hear.

The ability to hear high-frequency vibrations helps cats survive in the wild by picking up on the movements of prey and predators. It also allows them to communicate with other cats, as they can pick up on the high-frequency vibrations of purring and meowing.

So next time your cat gags at the sight of a comb, remember that it’s not because they’re being fussy – it’s simply because their super-sensitive hearing means they can hear sounds that we can’t!

Do Other Sounds Make Cats Gag?

While the sound of a comb is overstimulating for cats, other sounds can also cause them to gag. Some common examples include the sound of a vacuum cleaner, the ringing of a telephone, and even the crinkling of cellophane wrapping.

This is because these sounds all produce high-frequency vibrations similar to the comb’s sound. As a result, the cat’s highly sensitive hearing is simply overstimulating and causes them to gag or run away in response.

Why Do They Gag When Being Brushed?

Cats gagging at being brushed can signify that they don’t enjoy having their fur touched by humans, so it may not be advisable to brush them at all. Many cats also have long hair, which is more challenging to deal with when brushing and can cause pain if pulled too hard or for a prolonged period.

The best way to get your cat used to being brushed before you actually do it is by giving them treats while doing so. This will help the cat associate being touched with something positive and make it more likely to enjoy the experience.

Should I Be Worried If My Cat Gags?

Gagging is a natural defence mechanism that cats can use when they feel threatened or don’t like what they’re seeing. As long as the gagging doesn’t become excessive, it’s nothing for cat owners to worry about.

However, if your cat begins coughing excessively while doing so, then this could be cause for concern, and you should consider taking it.

If your cat is gagging for no apparent reason, it’s always best to take them to the veterinarian just to be sure. There are several potential causes for unexplained gag reflexes in cats, such as FARS, allergies, respiratory problems, and even dental disease.

What Other Causes Are There For Cats Gagging?

Cats gagging at combs can be due to their sensitive hearing, but other possible causes are also. Some of these include:

Feline Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects cats and dogs alike. It occurs when the airways in the cat’s lungs become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe correctly.

Cats with FARS are more likely to develop Asthma due to their compromised immune system, which means they’re also more prone to allergies.

Allergies – cats can be allergic to all kinds of different things, including pollen and human food. This causes breathing problems that make them gag excessively or cough persistently. So it’s essential to get your cat allergy tested if you think they may have them.

Respiratory Problems – cats can also develop respiratory problems from several causes, such as infections, foreign objects in the airway, and even cancer. These problems can cause the cat to gag constantly and make it difficult to breathe.

Dental Disease – one of the most common reasons cats gag is dental disease. This occurs when plaque and tartar build up on the cat’s teeth, which can cause them pain and lead to infection. If left untreated, dental disease can even lead to death.

Hairballs – cats groom themselves constantly, and during this process, they often swallow a lot of hair. This hair can then form into balls in the cat’s stomach, which can cause them to gag as they try to vomit them up.

If you are concerned about your cat gagging excessively, you should see a veterinarian. They will be able to run tests and find out what exactly is causing it before prescribing treatment.

What Is FARS?

FARS stands for Frequency-Dependent Auditory Response Syndrome and is a condition that affects some cats. This syndrome causes the cat’s hearing to be over-sensitive to high-frequency sounds, which can cause them to gag or even become deaf in response to loud noises.

A study by Lowrie et al. 2015 on Audiogenic reflex seizures in cats discovered that some cat breeds are more susceptible to this syndrome than others, particularly Birmans.

FARS can be treated by using medications to reduce the hypersensitivity of a cat’s hearing. However, owners need to identify whether their cats are actually suffering from this syndrome or just have an oversensitive reaction towards high-frequency sounds before seeking treatment.

If you think your cat might have FARS, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian who can diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment if necessary.


While it may be alarming for cat owners to see their cats gag at combs, it’s usually nothing to worry about.

Cats will gag at combs due to many reasons such as sensitive hearing, respiratory problems, dental disease, and hairballs. If your cat is constantly gagging, it’s essential to take them to a veterinarian for tests and treatment.

FARS is a condition that affects some cats and can cause them to gag or become deaf in response to loud noises. If you think your cat might have FARS, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian who can diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment if necessary.

Thank you for reading! I hope this blog post was informative and helpful. 🙂

Leave a comment below if you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences with cat gagging. 🙂


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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