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Vomiting in Cats

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Treatment In-depth

There are numerous potential causes of vomiting; therefore, before any treatment can be recommended it is important to identify the underlying cause. The intensity of the treatment will be determined by your pet's condition. Treatment often includes withholding food and water while giving fluids and electrolytes intravenously and administering drugs for control of vomiting and/or gastrointestinal protectants.

Potential symptomatic treatments may include:

  • Giving no food or water until vomiting has stopped for 12 to 24 hours. This is usually done in conjunction with fluid and electrolyte therapy. Water is then initiated after 12 to 24 hour period. Small increments of water are offered and gradually a bland diet is started. Small frequent feedings of a bland digestible diet such as Hill's prescription diet i/d, Iams Recovery Diet, Purina EN or Waltham Low Fat are usually recommended. Homemade diets can be made of boiled rice or potatoes (as the carbohydrate source) and lean hamburger, skinless chicken or low-fat cottage cheese (as the protein source). The return to regular cat food should be gradual over three to four days.

  • Fluid therapy is indicated if your pet is dehydrated or actively vomiting and/or having diarrhea. For severe cases, IV (intravenous) fluid therapy is important. Balanced electrolyte solution with potassium supplemented may be recommended. Occasionally, bicarbonate supplementation may be required (which will be determined by serum biochemistry lab testing). Dextrose may also be added to the IV fluids. Mild cases can be treated with subcutaneous fluid therapy where fluid is given under the skin. Subcutaneous fluids are slowly absorbed. Intavenous fluids are important for survival of animals that are seriously dehydrated or debilitated.

    Antiemetics are drugs that are used to control vomiting. Common drugs used include:

  • Metoclopramide (Reglan®)

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine®)

  • Prochlorperazine (Compazine®)

    Common gastrointestinal protectants include:

  • Famotidine (Pepcid®)

  • Cimetidine (Tagamet®)

  • Sucralfate (Carafate®)

    These drugs are given after vomiting is controlled.


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