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My Pet World: Why does my cat have hiccups?

January 18, 2011|By Steve Dale

Q: My cat gets the hiccups and sometimes belches. I've always had a cat, but this is my first male, and he's a sweetheart. Do male cats in particular get hiccups? What should I do about it? — E.R., Cyberspace

A: "In my 42-year career as a veterinarian, I've never seen or heard of a cat with hiccups," says Chicago veterinarian Dr. Sheldon Rubin. "So, no, male cats are not more likely to get the hiccups."

Rubin says your best bet is to videotape whatever is going on so your veterinarian can see it. Your cat could have a gastric reflux issue, a diaphragmatic hernia, or who knows, he could simply be gulping water, then belching. True hiccups are unlikely.

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As for what to do about the problem, that depends upon what's actually going on. Traditional cures for hiccups in people don't really work (scaring someone, holding your nose while drinking a glass of water, etc.), so don't hide around a corner and holler, "Attack dog!" If your cat can actually drink water from a glass while holding his nose, this may not stop the hiccups but might earn you a spot on David Letterman's list of "Stupid Pet Tricks."

Q: One of my parakeets appears to have a neurological problem. When she flies, she loses her balance when landing. She also loses her balance while perching. Her stool has increased in quantity. The vet said she might be egg-bound and referred me to a specialist. However, my bird is so stressed at the vet I'd rather try to help her at home. Any ideas? — P.S., Cyberspace

A: Indeed, there may be an "egg-bound issue," says Dr. Peter Sakas, a Niles, Ill., veterinarian with a special interest in birds. "What might be going on could relate to nutrition, causing hypocalcimia (low calcium), which then explains the problem with the egg being stuck. And there are other possible explanations, including liver disease."

What you can do at home is to make sure your parakeet is on a nutritionally sound diet. You do need to see a veterinarian experienced with parakeets. This would not provide a diagnosis, but also help you better understand how to calm your frazzled feathered friend.

Q: I'm 15 and seriously considering becoming a veterinarian. What classes do you recommend I take in high school and college? I'm now taking English and advanced algebra and chemistry classes. I'm an honors student. Which college or university is best, and what classes should I take there? — D.C., Hartford, Conn.

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