Cats Retch at Comb Noise in Viral Video—Here's Why They Hate It

A video of a cat retching at the sound of a comb being touched has garnered 48.8 million views on TikTok.

In the clip, which was shared to the app by Alyssa Mullins, known online as alyssam_7, a woman can be seen running her nails across a beard comb.

Her grey cat is watching the action intently and it immediately gags and appears to almost be sick on the living room carpet.

This video, which can be watched here, is attached to another clip by _gassan_abakarov_, who does the same thing with his kitten using a green hair comb, and it also causes the small feline to retch and let out a pained sound.

Mullins has captioned the peculiar video, writing: "I felt bad after this but I didn't think it would actually work #cat #catsoftiktok #funny #catlover."

Since it was posted on April 19, the footage has gone viral, having been viewed by a staggering 48.8 million people and surpassed 3.5 million likes.


I felt bad after this but I didn’t think it would actually work #cat #catsoftiktok #funny #catlover

♬ original sound - alyssa mullins

Many people rushed to the comments section to share their thoughts on the actions in the clip.

One social media user, Tomatoicecream57, wrote: "Sounds like he's choking."

Another person, Bee, added: "Don't do this to your cat pls."

J F commented: "My cats had no reaction."

Evogirl21 typed: "This can actually cause some cats to have seizures don't do this."

But what is the actual reason that the cats react like this to nails being run along a comb? Well, a 2016 study, titled Audiogenic Reflex Seizures in Cats and published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, found that older cats can experience seizures due to a multitude of loud noises.

These included the crinkling of tinfoil, which effected 85 percent of cats in the study, paper bags (73 percent), typing on computer keys (64 percent) and other action such as running water, Velcro and computer printers.

This is a type of epilepsy syndrome which is known as Feline Audiogenic Reflex Seizures (FARS) and seems to relate to high-pitch noises.

While we do not know if the epilepsy in older cats is related to this gagging, Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado, a cat expert and scientist, explains on her website that: "Cats are predators, and their prey (mice and rats) use ultrasonic sounds to communicate.

"Cats may have sensitivity to high-pitched sounds because outside, it helps them hunt. Indoors, living with humans, it may lead to lots of irritation, gagging, or even worse!"

Cat under blanket
A stock image of a cat wrapped in a blanket. In a viral video a cat can be seen gagging at the sound of comb being stroked, but why? Getty Images