Cat Vomits

Vomiting in cats (vomiting) is not a clearly defined disease, but a symptom. Thus, it can be triggered by various causes such as poisoning. The cat vomits when the body’s vomiting center, which is located in parts of the brain, is stimulated. The process is described by an active abdominal press and the gagging of stomach contents that have already been digested. Therefore, a strong demarcation from regurgitation is very important. Because it defines a passive abdominal crunch and the gagging of food that has not yet been digested. The regurgitated mash has not yet reached the stomach, which is why the consistency and smell of vomit can be distinguished.

What are the causes of vomiting in the cat?

Causes of cat vomiting can be disease as well as physiological reactions. For a better overview, it makes sense to divide the causes into non-infectious and infectious:

Cat vomits: non-infectious causes

  • Physiological Response: Although many owners worry about a vomiting animal, the cat should not be disturbed in the process. It is used for cleaning so that cats take in more grass from time to time in order to consciously induce vomiting
  • Stress-related with fear or pain
  • Vomiting due to feeding (e.g. due to a feed intolerance or spoiled feed)
  • Ingested foreign bodies: it is not uncommon for cats to find thread-like structures in the digestive tract
  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal system: e.g. stomach inflammation, intestinal inflammation, pancreatitis
  • Diseases of other organs: e.g. hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, or tumorous events
  • Poisoning: many cleaning agents, medicines (e.g. paracetamol), and plants (e.g. ivy) are poisonous to cats
  • Disturbance of the sense of balance: e.g. by driving a car or boat
  • Changes in the position of the gastrointestinal tract, such as a stomach twist, are less common in cats than in dogs

Infectious causes

The following pathogens can cause vomiting in cats:

  • Bacteria (e.g. salmonella) can enter the body orally or through wounds
  • Viruses (e.g. feline panleukopenia (FPV))
  • Parasites (e.g. dishworms, giardia)

Cat Vomits: Symptoms

Very often the symptom vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms. The most common signs of illness include:

  • Poor general condition, sluggishness, and fever
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: diarrhea, unwillingness to eat, weight loss, dehydration
  • Pain associated with inflammatory diseases

Vomiting in the Cat: Diagnosis

At the latest when the blood appears in the vomit or if the cat vomits several times, a visit to the vet is advisable. Since the causes for this are very diverse, the cooperation between the veterinarian and the animal owner is very important:

As part of the anamnesis (questioning the animal owner), the following points are important for making the correct diagnosis:

  • The timing of vomiting
  • The frequency
  • Possible admixtures in the vomit

Other accompanying symptoms as well as the cat’s vaccination status are also helpful hints to determine why the cat is vomiting.

As a rule, the vet carries out a general clinical examination during the anamnesis. In this way, he can determine the current state of health of the cat. It is quite possible that this is already severely impaired by excessive electrolyte and water losses. This can endanger the cat’s circulation. In this case, the circulation must be stabilized by infusions before any further diagnostic measures.

If the vital signs are all in order, the source of the vomiting must be sought out. A complete blood count gives information about the number of inflammatory cells, liver and kidney parameters in the cat after a short time. If, for example, the number of eosinophils is increased, parasite infestation or an allergic reaction are very likely. The former can then be confirmed by examining the feces. A feed allergy, on the other hand, can be determined e.g. through an elimination diet (abrupt change of feed over a long period of time) or specific allergy tests. The number of different immune cells also reveals the possible presence of a bacterial or viral infection. These can be followed up by bacteriological examinations or special virus blood tests.

With the help of imaging procedures such as X-rays, the veterinarian can check organs for structural and sometimes functional changes. It can also detect changes in position, foreign bodies, and tumors.

How is vomiting in cats treated?

The treatment of vomiting is symptomatic on the one hand and through specific therapy of the underlying disease on the other hand:

Symptomatic therapy:

  • Fluid therapy and administration of electrolytes by infusion or bolus
  • Medicines against vomiting (anti-emetics): e.g. maropitant, metoclopramide, or buscopan compositum
  • Stomach protection tablets: omeprazole or ranitidine
  • Supportive administration of easily digestible food

Cat vomits – Specific therapy:

  • Infectious causes require antibiotics, antivirals, or wormers, depending on the pathogen
  • Food intolerance: dietary measures
  • Surgical measures are required, for example, in the case of swallowed foreign bodies, changes in position, and some humorous events
  • Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers

My Cat is Vomiting – What’s the Prognosis?

The prognosis depends on the cause of the vomiting. Parasite infestation is very common and is usually eliminated quickly. However, some tumors or foreign bodies detected too late in the gastrointestinal tract can be life-threatening. Very strong and prolonged vomiting can also end in shock due to electrolyte fluctuations and water loss. This can also endanger the life of the cat.

How can vomiting in cats be prevented?

To prevent your cat from vomiting, here are some things you can do to take care of:

  • Ways to cope with stress: e.g. scratching furniture
  • Avoid access to toxic substances
  • Have outdoor animals checked regularly for parasites (e.g. every 3 months)
  • Prohibit contact with animals that are already sick
  • Regular cleaning and, if necessary, disinfection of the droppings and feeding areas
  • Protect cat food from light and store it locked to protect it from contamination or rodent pests
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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