Vomitting is a symptom that is often caused by a gastrointestinal disorder. However, vomitting may also indicate a secondary disease from a different system entirely. For example, cats with diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, or some infectious diseases may vomit. This can make determining the cause of vomitting a challenge even for experienced veterinarians.
When Vomitting in Cats Requires Medical Attention
Problematic vomitting is probably best defined as vomitting which is acute (comes on quickly) and results in more than three instances in 24 hours. Alternatively, vomitting that lasts for longer than a week is also problematic. If your cat vomits once and then consumes a meal with no further problem, the issue has resolved itself and probably does not require medical attention. If the vomitting continues after eating or your cat is lethargic or has a fever, see a veterinarian immediately.
There are other signs that your cat should see a veterinarian. Some of these include:
- Lethargy (reluctance to move)
- Diarrhea (more than three occurrences in 24 hours)
- Weight loss
- Blood in the vomit
Prevention and Treatment of Vomitting in Felines
You can't prevent all vomitting. It's going to happen, whether it's from a mild illness of a hairball. But you can take steps to keep reduce the number of times your cat might vomit. Keep him indoors and eliminate all toxic plants and other materials from your home. Also switch to a hairball control formula when purchasing cat food. This might help your cat avoid all those hairballs.
When your cat does vomit (provided it is not a hairball), withhold food and water for three hours. After this time, offer small amounts of water. After a couple more hours, offer bland foods, preferably a cat food designed for this purpose, such as Iams Recovery Diet. Slowly reintroduce regular cat food over a two day period. If your cat resumes vomitting at any point, or your cat develops other symptoms, contact your veterinarian. Your vet may wish to begin IV fluids or administer medications to control the vomitting until the cause has been determined.
Vomitting is cats is usually benign and a result of hairballs or other simple problems. However, if you are at all worried about your cat's health, take him immediately to the veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.