Vomiting is a common problem in cats and can occur for many reasons. If you bring your cat to be evaluated for vomiting, the first thing your veterinarian will try to determine is if the vomiting is acute or chronic and whether it is caused by a problem within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or outside the GI tract. The most common GI tract disorders we see includes gastritis (stomach upset), hairballs, GI infections, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergy, parasites, foreign body obstructions, and tumors. Examples of vomiting being caused outside the GI tract includes toxins or drugs, kidney disease, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, fevers/systemic infections, and viruses.
We consider vomiting in cats to be abnormal when it happens more than once per week or more than 4 times per month. Also when a cat is refusing to eat or vomiting immediately after they eat, when a cat is listless, hiding, or having behavioral changes in addition to the vomiting, or if you suspect your cat ate string or other foreign objects prior to the onset of vomiting.
So what can you do? If your cat is vomiting occasionally, we recommend starting a log or diary to record how frequently they are vomiting. If it’s more than 4 times per month they should be examined by your vet. Note what was in the vomit (food, foam, grass, etc.) and how the cat is behaving. If your cat is long haired and vomiting hairballs frequently there are many over the counter remedies you can try—our favorite is Laxatone gel by Vetoquinol. If your cat has an acute episode of vomiting multiple times in one day, we recommend calling for an appointment to have your cat evaluated, or at least consulting with one of our expert staff to see if they think it can wait. If your cat is losing weight and vomiting, or stops eating, it should be examined by your veterinarian promptly.
What will we do? After bringing in your cat, we will record its weight, body temperature and other vital signs. You will meet with one of our veterinarians to thoroughly examine your cat, hear the history and determine the best course of action. We may recommend taking an x-ray or performing an abdominal ultrasound to see an image of the GI tract. Or we may recommend blood work, viral testing and parasite tests. If your cat is dehydrated, we will recommend giving fluids under the skin, or intravenous for more severe cases. We may also recommend giving nausea medicine or anti-inflammatories for the GI tract. We may recommend grooming or hairball control tips or even a diet change if a food allergy is suspected.
There are many causes of vomiting in cats. Remember, it is not normal to have a cat that “just vomits”, especially if it is more than a few times per month. If you are concerned about your cat’s vomiting, please don’t wait to have it evaluated by a veterinarian—early detection is often the key to successful treatment outcomes. Call for an appointment today!