Here’s what could be going on, plus what treatment options are available.
While it’s normal for your cat to vomit from time to time, whether it’s from a hairball or eating something she shouldn’t, if it happens regularly, there could be an underlying health problem.
Veterinarians agree that frequent vomiting in cats is a cause for concern, and if the problem persists, it’s important to get your furry friend checked out by a vet. This is what he should know if his the cat is vomiting all time.
What is considered frequent vomiting?
There is a widespread misconception that frequent vomiting is “normal” in cats. This is false, Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, DVMhead veterinarian at cat world and director of the Kingsgate Animal Hospital in Texas, he explains. While it’s true that cats may spit up hairballs from time to time, vomiting is never normal. Any cat that vomits multiple times in a day or vomits frequently should be seen by your veterinarian.
Dr. Caroline Wilde, DVM, staff veterinarian in trupanionagrees that any vomiting is abnormal.
“The frequency of vomiting can be relative. Generally speaking, I would consider ‘frequent vomiting’ once a week or more, but I would also be concerned about chronic vomiting, which would be vomiting that has persisted for more than three weeks,” he says. “For a cat that has a history of vomiting, a change in frequency may also be a cause for concern. For example, a cat that ‘normally’ vomits once a month suddenly vomits several times a week, or several times a day.
Symptoms of frequent vomiting in cats
Dr. Wilde provides a list of common symptoms:
- Dehydration, which can present as a dull, unkempt coat, changes in normal coat, sunken eyes, or constipation
Any cat that vomits does so for a reason. Regurgitating an occasional hairball may not be a big cause for concern, but it can indicate a need for more frequent brushing, says Dr. Whittenburg.
Frequent vomiting can be defined as multiple episodes of vomiting over a short period of time (days) or single episodes of vomiting occurring over weeks or months.
Causes of chronic vomiting
Dr. Wilde explains that there are many potential causes of chronic vomiting in cats, including:
Intestinal parasites generally have a specific part of the GI tract that they have an affinity for, such as the large vs. small intestine, stomach, etc. They can cause local changes in that area, such as inflammation and, in severe parasitic infections, even obstruction, which can cause vomiting.
Cats groom themselves and in the process swallow their own fur. In long-haired cats, cats that shed a lot, or those cats with impaired intestinal motility, the hair can form a ball of hair that can “stick”. If that happens in the esophagus or stomach, they can be “coughed up” or vomited. If it happens further down the GI tract, that can trigger the vomiting center in the brain and can sometimes cause obstruction.
Local inflammatory changes in the intestines cause vomiting.
Food intolerance or allergy
Cats can be allergic to their food, usually to the specific protein source in the food (such as chicken or beef). When they eat that specific protein or dietary component that they are allergic to, that can cause vomiting.
- This can occur due to ingestion of foreign materials, such as tinsel around a holiday or hair band (frequent offenders), hairballs, or, rarely, parasites. It can also occur due to cancer.
- systemic disease
The kidneys and liver are responsible for getting rid of waste in the body and when there is liver or kidney disease, the compounds that they normally get rid of can build up and cause nausea and vomiting
gastrointestinal tract cancer
- Cancer in the intestinal tract may form a discrete mass or may spread diffusely throughout the GI tract. A discrete mass can disturb the passage of ingested material through the intestinal tract, slowing it down or completely obstructing it, which can lead to vomiting. Cancer cells can also produce toxins that can make a cat nauseated and vomiting.
This is a condition in which the cat’s thyroid gland becomes overactive and secretes too much thyroid hormone. This can have various effects on the cat’s body, including (but not limited to) increased appetite, hyperactivity, weight loss, vomiting, high blood pressure, and in rare cases, seizures.
Cat Vomit Color Chart and What It Might Mean
Here’s what the different colors of cat vomit might indicate:
Yellow, orange or brown: This could mean there is bile in your cat’s stomach and partially undigested food.
Red or pink: This could mean that your cat ate something strange and indicates that blood is present.
clear or white: This may simply be due to saliva regurgitation into the esophagus.
Green: Your cat might have eaten something strange; green means bile is present.
Black or brown: If your cat is vomiting black or brown, it could mean there is bleeding and you should see a vet right away.
How Methimazole Transdermal Gel Can Help
Methimazole is a medication that is given daily to treat hyperthyroidism. It is usually administered orally, but can be formulated into flavored treats and transdermal gels as treatment options for pet owners who have difficulty giving their cat an oral medication. The get is applied to the inner surface of the ear and is absorbed through the skin.
Diagnosis of frequent vomiting in cats
The vet will start with a complete history and physical exam. Blood tests, X-rays, and urinalysis are a minimum baseline that should be performed on all sick cats. An upper GI endoscopy will be needed to visualize the GI tract and obtain biopsies of the walls. A veterinary pathologist will read these samples and determine if lymphoma or another disease is present, says Dr. Whittenburg.
As for prices, costs vary widely, but can range from hundreds to thousands. If money is a concern, cat owners should speak with their veterinarian so that an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan can be worked out within the owner’s budget.
Related: What your cat wants at the vet
The appropriate treatment will depend on the cat’s diagnosis.
For lymphoma, the cat will need to see an oncologist who will determine an appropriate chemotherapy protocol. Again, if this is not within the owner’s budget, there are other treatments that can be discussed, explains Dr. Whittenburg.
It is important to note that the earlier a cat is diagnosed, the more likely it is that it will do well with treatment.
How to prevent vomiting in cats
Since the reason for vomiting varies, it is important to determine what causes it. “The only way to prevent vomiting is to get an accurate diagnosis of the problem and treat it accordingly,” says Dr. Whittenburg.