Occasional, isolated vomiting is normal for cats. Most of the time there is nothing to worry about. If your cat vomits a hairball, or maybe some food after eating too fast, that’s okay. However, if the vomiting persists for more than a few days, or if you notice that your cat is intermittently vomiting more often, contact your vet.
If there are any other concerning symptoms accompanying your cat’s vomiting, do not hesitate to take her in for an examination.
What Are Some Causes?
Just as in humans, the reasons for vomiting range from eating something icky, all the way to cancer.
The most common reason for a cat to vomit is to rid herself of accumulated hair in her stomach, or a hairball as it is more commonly known. Your cat spends the majority of her day grooming herself. During this grooming process, she swallows a good amount of loose fur and dead skin cells.
Over time, the fur and dander clump together in her stomach, and her body gets rid of it by bring it up and out. The act may look and sound extremely alarming. However, keep in mind that this is a natural process for cats.
Her body is equipped to deal with it. Long-haired cats may even do it on a regular basis. Even though she is not in any life-threatening danger, it is unpleasant for her, just as vomiting is for any of us. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce hairballs, and there are products to help your cat with the hairball elimination process.
Another common reason cats vomit is because they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have – an insect or spoiled food, for example. These bouts of vomiting are usually an isolated incident and are nothing to worry about.
Frequent vomiting, however, is something you shouldn’t disregard. Some of the causes of chronic vomiting include:
- Food allergy
- Heartworm infection
- Foreign bodies
- Diaphragmatic hernia
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Intestinal obstruction
- Neurological disorders
- Gastric or intestinal tumors
Aside from possibly being a symptom of a serious underlying issue, chronic vomiting can cause its own problems, such as dehydration. Dehydration is very serious and could lead to death if it remains unrecognized and untreated. If your cat has been vomiting frequently, even if she seems fine otherwise, don’t hesitate to have your vet take a look at her.
To help a kitty that has been excessively eliminating hairballs, try the following:
Help her groom
Brush your cat at least once a day using a slicker brush or even a brush glove. The brushing removes loose hairs and dead skin cells. The more that comes out on the brush, the less there is for her to ingest. Thus, the production of hairballs is reduced.
This will not stop all her hairballs, but it will greatly reduce them and how many times she needs to expel them. In addition to assisting with hairball reduction, brushing also spreads the essential oils in your cat’s skin throughout her fur. This makes for a sleek, smooth and shiny coat. Also, while you’re brushing your cat, it mimics the way cats groom each other. It allows for creating a deeper bond with your cat.
Foods and supplements for hairball maintenance
There are several foods that are specially formulated to reduce hairballs. The foods help by allowing your cat to digest and pass the majority of accumulated hair in her stomach. Supplements in the form of gels and pastes work the same way. They create a more hospitable environment in the gut for digesting hairballs. This results in less regurgitation to get rid of them.
For long-haired cats, a combination of the above methods is most beneficial. For short-haired cats, brushing alone will greatly reduce hairball production, and may be all you need.
For kitties with chronic vomiting, your vet will conduct a number of tests to figure out why. The first thing your vet will do is determine whether your cat is actually vomiting or just regurgitating. This means figuring out whether it is a stomach problem or not. Regurgitation is when matter comes back up without reaching the stomach.
A hernia is a possible cause of chronic regurgitation. Other tests your vet may conduct can include a thorough physical examination, and a fecal test to check for intestinal parasites. Based on the results of the tests coupled with any information you can provide about your cat’s vomiting, your vet will come to a conclusion and diagnose the cause of the vomiting. Depending on the diagnosis, some of the treatments your vet may prescribe include:
- Changing your cat’s food
- Cimetidine, or an antiemetic to control nausea and the vomiting
- Antibiotics if a bacterial ulcer or infection is found
- Corticosteroids if inflammatory bowel disease is present
- Surgery if a tumor is the cause of the vomiting
Prevention and Tips
Hairball elimination can be greatly reduced. However, the causes of other vomiting can vary so greatly that it’s difficult to prevent. The best thing you can do for your cat is to be observant. If she vomits one time, and it’s not a hairball, she seems fine otherwise, and it doesn’t happen again, then it is most likely nothing to worry about.
She most likely got into something she shouldn’t have, or ate something her body didn’t approve of. In this case, it’s normal and healthy for the body to rid itself of it.
If her vomiting continues for several days, make sure she gets to a veterinarian. Be prepared to let your vet know how long the vomiting has been going on, what the contents of the vomit look like, how close to eating the vomiting happens, and if there are any other concerning symptoms. Relay your kitty’s circumstances to your vet as best as you can. This will greatly help your vet come to a diagnosis and figure out how to best treat your cat. Some key things to look out for are:
- The frequency of vomiting
- Diarrhea or any changes in stool
- A change in appetite and/or water intake
- Signs of dehydration
- Blood in the vomit
- Weight loss