Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms cats have. It can be a minor problem or a very significant major problem. As a pet owner, you may not know what to do when this happens, so this article will focus on what you can do for your pet at home.
Here are some of the most common questions pet owners ask about vomiting. What is vomiting?
Vomiting is the act of expelling contents from the stomach through the mouth. What causes vomiting?
Vomiting can be caused by a variety of problems including eating too quickly, eating too much, eating something that is not digestible, eating a different type of food, eating spoiled food or eating garbage. Vomiting can also indicate a systemic problem such as cancer, kidney failure, diabetes and other infectious diseases. For a full list of possible causes, go to Vomiting in CatsWhat can I do at home?
Specific home treatments are dependent on the cause of the vomiting. Here is the general approach to treat a vomiting cat: If your cat vomits once and then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement and is acting playful, then the problem may resolve on its own.
If you can find any predisposing cause such as exposure to trash, change in diet or eating plants, always eliminate the source of the problem.
If your cat vomits several times and you cannot take your cat to your veterinarian (which is recommended), then you may try the following:
- Administer only prescribed medications. Please check with your veterinarian before giving ANY medications.
- Withhold food and water for two hours. Oftentimes the stomach lining may be very irritated. Some cats will want to eat even though their stomach is irritated, and they will continue to vomit. Give the stomach time to rest for a few hours.
- After waiting for two hours, if your cat has not vomited, offer small amounts of water (a few tablespoons at a time). Continue to offer small amounts of water ever 20 minutes or so until your pet is hydrated. Some cats won't drink water. You can offer fresh water, water in a different bowl, top off the water bowl, or adding ice cubes to the water can encourage some cats to drink. Sometimes offering tuna juice can stimulate cats to drink.
- If there has been no vomiting after the small increments of water are offered, then you may gradually offer a bland diet.
- Small frequent feedings of a bland digestible diet such as: Hill's Prescription Diet Feline i/d. You can make a homemade diet of boiled chicken. Don't over feed as your cat as they may eat the entire bowl and vomit again. Feed an approximately inch square piece of meat – cut up into smaller pieces. If there is no vomiting, offer a small amount more about one hour later. Give small amounts frequently – every three to four hours for the first day. You can gradually increase the amount and decrease the frequency as your cat tolerates.
- Many veterinarians recommend Pepcid AC® (generic name is Famotidine) to decrease stomach acid. This helps many pets. The dosage most commonly used is 0.25 to 0.5 mg per pound (0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg) every 12 to 24 hours. A 10-pound cat should get about 2.5 mg to 5 mg total dose once to twice daily. This is an oral medication, which can be found at most pharmacies in the antacid section. Pepcid (Famotidine) does not require a prescription. It is often used for three to five days.
- Feed a bland diet for two days.
- Then gradually return to regular cat food over the next one to two days. At first, mix a little of your cat's regular food into the bland diet. Feed that for one meal. Then feed a 50/50 mix for one meal. Then feed ¾ cat food and ¼ bland diet for a meal. Then, return to feeding your cat's regular food.
- If your cat goes out – keep your cat in until you know his problems has resolved.
- This is important! If vomiting continues at any time or the onset of other symptoms is noted, call your veterinarian promptly. If your cat is not eating, acts lethargic, has continued vomiting or has any other physical abnormalities mentioned above, it is important to see your veterinarian. Your pet needs your help and the professional care your veterinarian can provide. If your pet is having the clinical signs mentioned above, expect your veterinarian to perform some diagnostic tests and make treatment recommendations. Those recommendations will be dependent upon the severity and nature of the clinical signs.
When is vomiting an emergency?
If the vomiting continues after your cat eats, or if your pet acts lethargic or doesn't want to eat, then medical attention is warranted. See your veterinarian.
If your cat is losing weight, if you see blood in the vomit – please see your veterinarian.
Great Links for More Information
For more details about vomiting, go to Vomiting in Cats and Chronic Vomiting in Cats(duration longer than 1 or 2 weeks).
Related topics – go to Acute Diarrhea in Cats, Gastroenteritis in Cats, and Dehydration in Cats.
Disclaimer: Advice given in the Home Care series of articles is not meant to replace veterinary care. When your pet has a problem, it is always best to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. But in some cases, it is not always possible to seek veterinary care. You could be traveling, it could be after hours and there are no 24-hour clinics near you, or maybe you simply can't afford it. Whatever the reason, when your pet has a problem, you need answers. Most vets will not give you any information over the phone – they will tell you to bring your pet in for an office visit. So, when these difficult situations arise, many pet owners don't know what to do – and they end up doing the wrong thing because they don't have sound veterinary advice. When your pet has a problem and you can't see your vet, the information in this series of articles can help guide you so that you will not inadvertently cause harm to your pet. However, this information is not a replacement for veterinary care.