Monday, September 21, 2009 10:43 AM

Vomiting in Cats

Like people, cats vomit occasionally. There are basically two types of vomiting in cats: The type where the cats still wants to eat, and the kind where the cat is anorexic. As you may have guessed, the former is much less of a concern than the latter. Let's take a look at the possible causes of each.

Some cats tend to vomit only occasionally, while with others, it seems as if almost every day you're stepping in a yucky pile of vomited goo. When we had Min and Sweet Pea, Min was the "puker", while Pea zealously held onto every morsel she consumed. Until the end of his life, it was never a health issue until it heralded other, more ominous problems. With our present passel, Goldie is the upchucker, tending to vomit hairballs fairly consistently, despite being the cat that receives the most grooming. Besides hairballs, other causes of occasional but not worrisome vomiting are: Eating grass and other inappropriate things outside, eating too fast, eating dry food without drinking water, and something I've found with males in particular, vomiting clear stomach fluid after an overnight fast.

More troublesome are cats that vomit, often repeatedly, and are also refusing food. In this case, vomiting is a symptom of something more serious, not a response to some of the scenarios listed above. Especially in older cats, this can mean things like kidney failure, heart problems, liver or pancreatic disorders and/or cancer. It is very important not to let a cat fast for more than a couple of days, since cats can develop irreversible kidney damage. Dehydration, with all its attendant problems, should also be avoided.

If your cat is having a bout of upset tummy, withhold all food and water for about 8 hours. Kitty will be starving by then, but ease back into feeding by giving a small bowl of meat baby food such as chicken, lamb or turkey. Cream of Wheat is also a good choice (all my cats, past and present, loved/love it). Remember, just a little bit! If all is well, feed baby food once or twice more, gradually adding in her regular canned food.

If vomiting continues, try giving kitty approximately 1ml (cc) of milk of magnesia using a plastic syringe or eye dropper. Do this where it will be easy to clean up the mess! Usually, one or two doses of MoM will do the trick without causing diarrhea. If not, or your cat has no interest in food, has a fever and/or other symptoms, you'll need to get to the vet ASAP.

Just so You Know: Vomiting blood is always a sign of serious trouble and should be checked out by a veterinarian.
Chat later!


September 23, 2009 at 1:10 PM

Great article! We had a "puker"; unfortunately, the reason was renal failure. Cats with renal failure tend to have digestive issues and she was no exception.

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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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