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Vomiting in Cats: How Much is Normal?

May 21, 2011 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

What cat owner doesn’t occasionally come home to a surprise pile of vomit, usually on their best chair or Persian rug?

It is not unusual to see a hairball every so often even when we think we are being diligent about brushing and grooming our cats. Cats shed their hair based upon both increasing daylight hours and warmer temperatures so consequently, indoor cats may shed all year round. For long-haired cats that tend to shed and form mats in their coats, clipping hair from the underside and backside (sanitary clip) can cut down on unpleasant grooming at home. Lion shaves are also recommended to reduce hairballs in long haired cats.

Stress such as a move to a new household, introduction of a new pet, construction or seeing outdoor cats through a window can increase shedding.  Most importantly, internal or external parasites (worms or fleas), skin disorders or any illness can cause your cat to excessively lick or groom themselves or to lose more hair than usual. If your cat is vomiting hairballs more frequently than usual, a visit to the vet is important!

For long-haired cats that tend to shed and form mats in their coats, clipping hair from the underside and backside (sanitary clip) can cut down on unpleasant grooming at home. Lion shaves are also recommended to reduce hairballs.

Vomiting dry food eaten too quickly is a common problem because a cat has a very sensitive gag reflex. Try feeding multiple small meals and separating cats that eat quickly in an effort to compete for food.

Vomiting food, brown liquid (bile) or foamy clear fluid (saliva) more than once a week is not normal. A thorough physical exam followed by blood and urine tests will help us detect diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease or hyperthyroidism that could be causing vomiting. Dehydration itself may be life threatening so subcutaneous or intravenous fluids and injections to stop vomiting might be required right away to get a cat through a vomiting crisis. Once the patient is stable, further testing can be done to establish an underlying cause. A feeding trial may be suggested to determine if a food hypersensitivity or allergy is contributing to the problem. X-rays are used to determine whether a foreign object, tumor or obstruction is affecting the stomach or intestines.

If these baseline diagnostic tests don’t lead to a diagnosis and the vomiting persists, ultrasound of the abdomen may give clues as to diseases and samples can sometimes by collected with a tiny needle under ultrasound guidance.  A pathologist can then review slides containing the collected cells for diagnostic clues.

Endoscopy is a non-invasive technique for collecting biopsy samples from the stomach and intestinal linings. These tiny tissue samples allow differentiation between an inflammatory process and cancer. A long flexible tube containing fiberoptic bundles is passed into the cats’ mouth under anesthesia and is slowly advanced through the esophagus, stomach and upper small intestine. A flexible tool is passed through a channel in the scope that snips out tiny pieces of tissue while the scope operator is visualizing the site.

At times, the best and most direct way to diagnose a disease of the digestive tract is by doing an exploratory surgery of the abdomen.  The advantage is direct visualization of organs and masses as well as a means of collecting good tissue samples for biopsy.

Please schedule an exam if your cat is suffering from vomiting.

Dr Elyse Kent

Dr. Elyse Kent graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and completed an Internship at West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group in 1981.

In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients. In 1985, in a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Kent opened the only exclusively feline veterinary clinic in Los Angeles, Westside Hospital for Cats (WHFC). Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1991. Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Dr. Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in 1995. She certified for an additional ten (10) years in 2005. There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. Dr. Kent served as the Feline Regent and Officer on the Council of Regents for 9 years. She is currently the immediate Past President of the ABVP, which certifies all species specialists. She also heads up a task force joining certain efforts of the ABVP with The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). She currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board of The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The present day WHFC facility opened in 2000. It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr. Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years.

Westside Hospital for Cats
2317 Cotner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: 310-479-2428

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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