Sunday 20 July 2008

Cat Vomiting

cat vomiting
photo by matuzalems

A cat vomiting is not that unusual and if it is a "one off event" it is nothing to be overly concerned about. My cat vomits occasionally and it is usually something she has swallowed such as a piece of grass that is too long or too sharp (see the photo below taken by helixblue and published under a creative commons license). It may be due to hair balls, for example. Yowling may accompany the vomiting of hairballs.

See another page on Cat Vomiting.

This is more likely to occur with long haired cats such as the Persian. Our help in regular grooming will minimize this. Veterinarian approved hair ball medication can assist as well. However, the real problems and our concerns start when cat vomiting is more persistent or even chronic (long term). In other words if our cat is fine and then vomits it is probably OK.
cat vomiting grass
Photo by helixblue

It will be readily apparent that something is wrong and a trip to the vet is a must. Also, if a cat feels sick she will not eat. So, although she may not actually vomit she will be ill. Sometimes drooling accompanies feeling nauseous, as well. And there may also be diarrhea. From a layperson's perspective cat vomiting has got to be caused (on a fundamental level) because something is irritating the stomach and the cat needs to expel that substance or object to remove the source of irritation.

This may be due to food ingredients. Modern cat food can, some vets think, cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This can be caused by the "commercial ingredients" (ingredients to make the food easier to manufacture, sell and last longer etc.) in modern cat food. This is more likely to affect an older cat. The cause is a food allergy. The cat vomiting may be accompanied by diarrhea. One way to assess this cause is obviously by changing foods. Feeding more natural cat food and even raw cat food is an option but this needs to be done with caution as supplements will be needed. A vet may recommend a hypoallergenic cat food as a remedy for mild inflammatory bowel disease.

A hunting domestic cat (one that is allowed to roam outside) may eat a "foreign body" (an object that he shouldn't eat but did do so inadvertently), which causes irritation in the stomach. Or he may have eaten a houseplant (more likely if he is an indoor cat) or some other interesting object not suited to his digestive system. A "linear" object (a thread) can be nasty and life threatening. Long threads get stuck at one end while cat vomiting continues. This may cause the small intestines to become squashed, which is very painful. It may be possible to see the thread in the mouth. Surgery is usually necessary, regrettably, following X-rays. The object may obstruct the intestine. An obstruction in the urinary tract can also cause acute cat vomiting. Such a cause will also mean straining to urinate and going in and out of the litter box. This will obviously require a visit to a vet and perhaps emergency treatment. I would have thought, though, that this would be spotted fairly early on to avoid emergency treatment.

Infections (infectious gastroenteritis) can cause cat vomiting (and diarrhea). The infection can be viral (caused by a virus) or bacterial. The viral infections can be serious such as FeLV and FIV (cat AIDS). You'll know something serious is wrong as your cat will be very ill for a considerable time.

If you see long worms in the vomit it is probably roundworms. Your cat may be pot bellied as well as vomiting. A veterinarian will need to confirm this and probably need a fecal sample for testing.

cat vomiting
photo by erloteiel
Although I would have thought rare, cat vomiting could be due to ingesting human medicine if it has been left lying around. This may cause intoxication. The cat may show neurological symptoms, which may give a clue but a vet is a must in this case. Drug ingestion can cause damage to the digestive tract resulting in blood coming up with the sick. Another cause of a cat vomiting blood are gastric ulcers and gastric tumors or ingesting ingesting rat poison.

It the vomiting is progressive and chronic (highly noticeable and very quickly noticeable) it may be due to a cancer in one of the organs of the abdomen or organ failure.

It may be possible for us to deal with cat vomiting if it is a "one off event". I certainly would try but if it concerns a young cat it seems a trip to the vet is probably the only answer as they are more vulnerable.

The recommended self help treatment for a cat vomiting is to restrict intake of food for a full day and limit water intake to small amounts and watch. If she is an outdoor cat, she is best kept in. If she stops vomiting more water can be given and then food that is well tolerated such as boiled skinless chicken and well cooked rice. Or I guess one of her favorite foods that you know she will tolerate well. Things should gradually improve and return to normal and if not the veterinarian is the obvious next step.

New page on Cat Vomiting - some more information

Cat Vomiting to Cat health problems

Top photo - this is Sophia vomiting looking very much like a cat that has just vomited but a one off not a serious vomit I would have thought. Published under creative commons license

  • The Veterinarian's Guide to Your Cat's Symptoms (Garvey, Hohenhaus, Houpt, Pinckney, Wallace, Randolph)
  • Myself
  • Veterinary Notes for Cat Owners - Trevor Turner and Jean Turner

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