My cat is being sick, what should I do?

cat being sickMost cats will be sick occasionally and it is usually nothing to worry about, however in some cases it can be a sign of a more serious problem.  Cats are generally less likely to be sick than dogs since they tend to be a bit more careful about what they eat.

What will I see?

If your cat is going to be sick, you may see drooling, lip licking, excessive swallowing, or even yowling. When your cat vomits you will see strong abdominal contractions and head bobbing, followed by expulsion of vomitus. It is worth noting what your cat vomits up, how much he vomits and how often he vomits, maybe take a picture using the camera on your phone, in case you need to show the vet.

Why is my cat being sick?

Vomiting can be caused by anything that irritates the stomach or prevents stomach contents from moving forward along the digestive tract.  So possible causes include, fur balls, infection, parasites (worms), various plants and toxins, kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease, foreign objects, dietary factors and cancer.

If your cat is vomiting fur balls you will see matted “slugs” of wet hair.  Sometimes using a laxative preparation can help the hair to pass through the digestive tract rather than be vomited up.  Some cats fed on a dry diet will vomit up some of their biscuits a short time after eating if they have been a bit greedy – the dry biscuits swell up considerably in the stomach and they simply vomit up the excess.

What can I do if my cat is being sick?

Following a single episode of vomiting,

  • Check your cat for pale or cold gums, listlessness, diarrhoea, fever, or other signs of illness.
  • If possible, locate the food or item that caused the vomiting.
  • Remove food from trays for about 2 hours, but continue to provide water.
  • If there is no further vomiting, try offering a teaspoon of his usual food.  If he keeps this down, continue offering small amounts of food every few hours for the next 24 hours, then go back to his normal feeding routine.

If your cat continues to vomit, or cannot keep water down, has blood or unusual material in the vomitus, or if you have seen him eat something he shouldn’t call your vet immediately.

If your cat is vomiting on multiple occasions, there may be an underlying problem that will need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Veterinary Care – what to expect

Your vet will check your cat over by performing a clinical examination and also ask you questions to see what you have observed at home.  Since there are many possible reasons your cat may be vomiting, your vet may need to perform some further tests to work out what is going on, such as blood tests, urine tests, x-rays or ultrasound.  Treatment will depend on the diagnosis, but may include intravenous fluids (a drip) to correct dehydration, antibiotics if infection is suspected, antiemetics (anti vomiting medication) and stomach protectants if appropriate.   If a foreign body is suspected, surgery will be performed to remove it. There may be other treatments given specific to the cause of vomiting.

Can I prevent my cat from being sick?

Many causes of vomiting cannot be prevented, but by removing any potentially harmful foods or objects from your cat’s environment you can help to minimise the risk of foreign body ingestion or toxicity.

Please note:
Vets Now assumes no liability for the content of this page. This advice is not
a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a
guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment
immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health - even if they are
closed, they will always have an out of hours service available. Find out more
about what to do in an out of hours emergency.

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