Vomiting is a very common problem with cats with a multitude of causes. They range from eating something poisonous or inedible (like string), to infection, urinary tract disease, or diabetes to hairballs. Symptoms are usually obvious, and include drooling and abdominal heaving. Vomiting can quickly leave your cat dehydrated. Vomiting can be a result of something minor, like a cat consuming his meal too quickly, or it can be a sign of a much more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Usually, a cat vomits because he ate something disagreeable, ate too much or played too soon after dinner. Vomiting can also be associated with gastrointestinal or systemic disorders.
Some causes for a sudden episode of vomiting, or acute vomiting, include:
- Bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract
- Diet-related causes (diet change, food intolerance)
- Gastric or intestinal foreign bodies (toys, hairballs)
- Intestinal parasite
- Acute kidney failure
- Acute liver failure or gall bladder inflammation
- Post-operative nausea
- Toxins or chemicals
- Viral infections
- Certain medications.
An occasional, isolated bout of vomiting is normal. However, frequent vomiting can be a sign of a more serious condition.
Some causes of chronic (ongoing) vomiting include:
- Diaphragmatic hernia
- Diet related (food allergy or intolerance)
- Foreign bodies
- Gastrointestinal ulceration
- Heartworm infection
- Intestinal obstruction
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Neurological disorders
- Severe constipation
- Toxicity (such as lead)
- Gastric or intestinal tumors.
The causes of vomiting are so varied that it can be difficult to diagnose, and so it’s important to consider the circumstances.
The most common course of action is to withhold food and water until after vomiting has stopped for two hours. Afterward, water is introduced slowly, followed by a bland diet. You can baby your cat as you would a sick child and give homemade food such as boiled potatoes, rice or cooked, skinless chicken.
In certain situations your cat may require fluid therapy or antiemetics-drugs to help control vomiting. You’ll need to see your vet to determine the proper remedy.