Why Do Cats Gag At The Sound Of A Comb?

This is one of the most viral videos. All over the globe, cats gag when their owners run their fingers (or coins) through a comb. Many of you have been asking me this question, so I decided to investigate.

Cats have proven to be a reliable source of content again and again. They are a magnet for viral videos and interesting content, despite being the most mysterious furry member of the family. This so-called “comb trick” can even confuse the internet.

Here are the reasons why it happens. First, don’t underestimate how sensitive cats are to high frequencies. Their hearing is razor-sharp and they can make sounds higher than what we can hear. This is because their lives depend on it for thousands of years. Their prey, small rodents, produced high-pitched squeaks to locate them. This sensitivity to high-pitched frequencies is not new. This is why cats can tell when you open a tin or pack of their favourite treats. This is due to the fact that a cat’s tongue can be pressed against a comb, making high-pitched sounds.

Some believe that this “Audiogenic Reflex Seizure”, which can cause gagging, is mild and can be brought on by certain high-pitched sounds (like foil crunching). However, these are usually more dramatic in older cats with impaired hearing.

  1. FARS

Feline audiogenic reflex seizures in cats are a new type of epilepsy. This is a common condition in older cats. It can be caused by loud or high-pitched noises.

As we age, our sense of hearing declines. Typically, the ability to hear lower pitched sounds is the first to go. High-pitched sounds can be more alarming to cats.

Individual cats will have different trigger sounds, and there are many sounds to trigger seizures. These are some of the most common triggers:

  • Tin foil that crinkles
  • Clacking of a metal spoon in a ceramic bowl
  • The tapping of glass
  • Plastic or paper bags crinkling
  • Use a mouse
  • Typing on a keyboard
  • The clinking or squeezing of keys or coins
  • Hammering a nail
  • Clicking of the tongue by a person

What is the real reason cats are so sensitive to having their nails combed? A 2016 study, Audiogenic Reflex Seizures In Cats, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that older cats can have seizures when they hear loud noises.

These actions included the crinkling and securing of tinfoil (which affected 85 percent of cats), paper bags (73%), and typing on computer keys (64%).

Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures (FARS), is one type of epilepsy. It seems to be related to high-pitch sounds.

  1. Farsi Seizures: Types
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures: A “classic” seizure. Cats may lose their awareness and fall, show shaking or paddling, chewing and foaming at the mouth and occasionally pass urine or feces. Cats usually become disoriented after these seizures, which can last for a few minutes.
  • Absence seizure (petit Mal Seizure): Cats can lose their awareness for as long as 20 seconds. Sometimes they stare unresponsively in space, sometimes staring vacantly. These seizures are difficult to detect and rarely seen in FARS.
  • Myoclonic seizures last less than one second and most cats remain conscious. This type of seizure, which is characterised by involuntary muscles spasms, is the most common in FARS. It is reported that around 95% of cats who participate in FARS experience this type.
  1. Reasons Cats Love The Sound of Combs

As I mentioned, cats can gag at the sound of combs. This is because of their sensitive and strong sense of hearing. They hunt with their sensitive hearing. They can hear predators and prey nearby.

Cats will respond to the sound of a comb if they hear it. Cats respond to the sound of a comb because it sounds similar to the teeth of a mouse. This is why cats respond to this type of noise with a gag reflex.

  1. How do cats hear the sound of combs?

Cats are skilled hunters and well-designed for this purpose. Their senses are sharp. The sound they make when you run your fingers over the teeth of a comb is high-frequency. This sound is something that humans can’t hear but feline friends can.

The frequency range of sounds that cats can hear is 48 Hz to 85,000Hz. This makes them among the most sensitive mammals. Humans are limited to hearing sounds between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz.

  1. Why do they giddy when being brushed?

Gagging cats can indicate that they aren’t enjoying having their fur brushed by humans. Long hair is a common characteristic in cats. This can make it more difficult to brush and can lead to pain if the hair is pulled too hard or left for too long.

Giving treats to your cat while you brush them is the best way to get them used to it. This will make your cat feel more comfortable and positive about being touched.

  1. Do I have to be concerned if my cat giddles?

Cats can use gagging to defend themselves against being threatened or unhappy with what they see. Cat owners shouldn’t be concerned if their cat’s gagging isn’t excessive. If your cat starts coughing, you should be concerned.

It’s best to bring your cat to the vet if they are gagging unassisted. Cats can have undiagnosed gag reflexes. These could be due to FARS, allergies or respiratory problems.

  1. How To Help a Gagging Cat
  • You can place a hand on the nose of your cat. Help the cat stop gagging and help it swallow any irritations to its throat. Your hand can be used to cover the cat’s nose and force it to swallow.
  • Massage the cat’s neck. Massaging the cat’s throat can help if it is gagging or coughing up something. Massage the neck muscles to relax them so that the cat can swallow.
  • If your cat is showing signs of distress, take it to the vet immediately. If your cat is having difficulty breathing, dry cough, confusion, blue gums, or heavy drooling these could all be signs of serious illness.
  • Keep your tongue down. Gagging can be stopped by allowing the cat to breathe more air. Place your finger inside the cat’s mouth, and gently hold its tongue. This allows more air to enter the nose and helps it get rid of any gags.
    • This method can cause your cat to bite you.


Remember that seizures in cats can be caused by hearing a high-pitched, continuous sound. Gagging is the most common symptom for cats. Only a few cats will experience a seizure.

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