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Chronic and Intermittent Vomiting in Cats
Every cat lover encounters the moment. Youíre sitting in your recliner after work, trying to relax when you hear a horrible, gagging, retching sound from your cat. Springing up, you grab a newspaper, an envelope anything flat, hoping you will get there in time to catch the mess before it is deposited on the carpet or the floor. Sometimes you arrive just in time to slide the paper underneath the catís head to avoid the necessary though unpleasant cleaning job.
There are multiple reasons for cats to vomit or regurgitate. Regurgitation happens when food or a substance becomes trapped in the esophagus and canít reach the stomach. Vomiting occurs when food or a substance reaches the stomach or intestine but has not yet been digested. Vomiting can occur by; digestive upset, swallowing foreign bodies, parasites, eating bugs or undigested prey, chewing grass, hairballs, food allergies or intolerance, changes in diet, reaction to medication, IBD, and other more severe health issues such as poisoning, obstruction, liver failure, infectious diseases, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer. Dental problems can also cause a cat to vomit.
ďVomiting in cats isnít always a reason to panic, but if your cat is vomiting either sporadically or chronically for a period of a week, you should be concerned and you need to make a vet appointment,Ē says Dusty Rainbolt, author of Kittens for Dummies and Ghost Cats.
Sadly, she speaks from experience. Her thirteen-year-old Maine Coon mix Nermal began vomiting once or twice a week over a period of several months. Being a responsible cat owner, Dusty took Nermal to the vet to find out why this was happening. Nothing conclusive could be found, so Nermal came home but the vomiting continued. Worried, Dusty returned to the vet two more times in an attempt to find the answers. They told her hairballs were behind it. Soon after the last vet visit, Nermal dropped three pounds suddenly then kidney failure claimed him. Dusty shares her final thought on this one experience. ďIíll always feel guilty that I didnít ask the vet to run blood-work right off.Ē
Some cats are gobblers, swallowing food whole and when the food is forced down the pharynx and then down the throat without being adequately chewed, the result can be regurgitation of the undigested food. The food shows up almost immediately after the cat eats. You can alleviate this reaction by elevating the food bowl, moving the water a little distance from the food and feeding on a flat plate instead of in a bowl. If your cat is vomiting after meals and you are free feeding, you might want to invest in a timed automatic feeder, because dry kibble air-spoils after twenty minutes exposure to room temperature. Small, measured meals are preferable to free feeding when it comes to your cat vomiting after meals. ľ tab of Pepcid can also be given once a day to try and stop the vomiting but before you administer the antacid check with your veterinarian first!
Hairballs are a common occurrence on long-haired cats, but they also appear with short-hair cats. The catís tongue is covered with tiny barbs. These barbs are called papillae. When the cat bends her head and starts to lick her fur, the barbs catch on any loose hair and pulls it out. If the cat isnít being hand-groomed on a regular basis, when she lifts her head, any hair she has caught in her mouth, she will then chew and swallow .
There are two ways that hairballs can travel through a catís system, either back up the throat or in the stool. Because the stomach acids are unable to properly break down cat hair, excess cat hair can become stuck in the stomach. Since the hair is a foreign body, the hairball will eventually irritate the stomach lining. If you are lucky, the irritation will cause the cat to hack and gag and cough up the hairball. But sometimes, the hairball can remain in place collecting other undigested matter and cause an obstruction. Your cat will stop eating and pooping from the blockage. Immediate surgery is necessary to save this catís life.
There are over-the-counter products you can use to help move the hairballs through the catís system; Laxatone, Petromalt, petroleum jelly, hairball treats or specially-treated dry cat food specifically to stop hairballs can be given. You can add fiber to the catís meal in the form of canned pumpkin, cooked green beans mashed with a bit of butter, cooked yams with a bit of butter, or even organic loose-leaf catnip. Long blades of grass or green hay can come in useful for cats suffering from hairballs. The grass is not easily digestible, therefore once it goes down, it has to come right back up bringing everything small enough in the stomach back up with it.
Lisa Burns and her four year old American Bobtail Longhair, ďMissileĒ fought the hairball battle on a regular basis for over a year. Missile hated to be groomed. He would bite and claw Lisa every time she attempted to groom him with a standard grooming brush. One afternoon, she arrived home to find Missile lying on the kitchen floor, barely breathing. She rushed him to the vet where it was discovered he had a massive hairball in his stomach. Immediately, emergency surgery was performed. After that scare, Lisa experimented with other types of grooming tools. ďThe Zoom Groom turned out to be our answer.Ē Lisa explains. ďMissile loves the massaging motion that this unique brush delivers. I love the fact that since I have been using it. The battle of the hairballs is over!Ē
If your cat frequently vomits, your vet should be consulted. Any time your cat is vomiting, you need to keep a sharp eye on him. When other symptoms accompanying vomiting; such as, your cat hiding, pulling out his hair, not eating or drinking or fever or changes in his normal behavior, you should not hesitate to contact your vet. Your cat needs to be seen by your vet immediately.
Vomiting robs the cat of precious fluids and chemicals essential for his health and well-being. Rapid weight loss can also occur and should never be ignored. Hesitating to make that vet appointment may turn out in the end to cost you and your cat dearly.