Problem

What's causing my cat to vomit?

Most cats will be sick from time-to-time and it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, in some cases, it may be a sign of a more serious problem.

Don’t delay if you’re worried about your cat being sick — call your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.

Read more: Our in-depth guide on what to do if your pet has been poisoned

Symptoms

How will I know my cat's about to be sick?

If your cat is going to be sick, you may see drooling, lip licking and excessive swallowing. Your cat may also hide away in a quiet area when she feels nauseous.

Why is my cat being sick?

Anything that irritates the stomach or prevents the contents of the stomach from moving through the digestive tract can cause your cat to be sick. These include, but are not limited to, fur balls, infection, worms, various plants and toxins, kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease, foreign objects, dietary factors and cancer.

If your cat is vomiting fur balls you’ll see matted “slugs” of wet hair. Sometimes a laxative preparation can help the hair to pass through the digestive tract rather than be vomited up.

Read more: The dangers of human painkillers to pets

Treatment

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
Locate the food or item that caused the vomiting — if that’s possible
Remove food from trays for about two hours, but continue to provide water
Try offering a teaspoon of his usual food — if he keeps this down, offer small amounts every few hours for the next 24 hours, then go back to his usual routine

If you are concerned about any of these issues contact your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vet Now emergency clinic or 24/7 hospital immediately.

Similarly, if your cat continues to be sick, or cannot keep water down, has blood or unusual material in her vomit, or if you have seen her eat something she shouldn’t call your vet straight away.

If your cat is being sick regularly, there may be an underlying problem that will need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

What can I expect when I take my cat to the vet?

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’s going on. These might include blood tests, urine tests, x-rays or ultrasound.

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis but may include intravenous fluids — a drip — to correct dehydration or antibiotics if infection is suspected. She may also be given anti-vomiting medication, called antiemetics, and stomach protectants if it’s appropriate. If a so-called foreign body is suspected, surgery may be performed to remove it.

Read more: What to do if your cat suffers an electric shock

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.

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