Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Overview of Feline Chronic Vomiting

Vomiting is the forceful ejection through the mouth of the contents of the stomach. Occasionally material from the duodenum of the small intestine also accompanies the stomach (gastric) contents. In cats, chronic vomiting is characterized by persistent or recurrent vomiting for more than two weeks.

An occasional bout of vomiting may cause no alarm to the cat owner; however, persistent, chronic vomiting is usually indicative of an underlying disease. Chronic vomiting often leads to decreased absorption of nutrients and subsequent weight loss. Diarrhea may also accompany the vomiting.

General Causes of Chronic Vomiting in Cats

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Obtaining a thorough medical history with details on the timing and material vomited is very important. A thorough physical examination is performed, including careful palpation (examining by hand) of the abdomen. Additional diagnostic tests may include:

Treatment of Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Chronic vomiting is difficult to treat symptomatically, because effective treatment usually depends on the underlying cause. There are several steps your veterinarian might recommend, however, while diagnostic testing is underway. The goals of symptomatic therapy are to initially rest the gastrointestinal tract and then introduce easily digested materials. Symptomatic treatments include:

Home Care

Administer only the prescribed medications and diet recommended by your veterinarian. Observe your pet very closely. If clinical signs are not improving, and/or your pet is getting worse, have your pet evaluated at once.

In-depth Information on Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Vomiting is often preceded by restlessness, salivation, and retching, and requires forceful abdominal contractions to expel the stomach contents. One must differentiate acute from chronic vomiting. One must also differentiate vomiting from regurgitation, which is the effortless evacuation of fluid, food, or mucus from the esophagus. The causes, diagnostic tests, and treatments for regurgitation are quite different from those for chronic vomiting.

Chronic vomiting generally does not respond to symptomatic therapy, and most often necessitates a full diagnostic work-up to determine the underlying cause. If the patient continues vomiting despite being kept off food, if the vomiting is recurrent, and/or if blood is present in the vomitus, your veterinarian should examine the animal. In addition, if your pet appears to be in distress, seems painful, lethargic, or sick in any other way, you should contact your veterinarian at once.

Causes of Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Chronic vomiting can be caused by diseases of the gastrointestinal tract or can occur secondary to other systemic diseases. It is important to try to establish the cause of chronic vomiting. If the underlying cause is not removed or treated, it is unlikely the vomiting will resolve.

Diagnosis In-depth

Obtaining a complete medical history, and performing a thorough physical examination are necessary in order to create an appropriate diagnostic plan for the vomiting patient.

Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to insure optimal medical care. These are selected on a case-by-case basis.

Therapy In-depth

Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the diagnostic tests described above. It is difficult to treat the patient with chronic vomiting symptomatically. It is very important with chronic vomiting that an underlying cause be identified, so that specific therapy can be instituted.

While diagnostic testing is underway the following nonspecific (symptomatic) treatments may be tried in some pets. These treatments may reduce the severity of symptoms or provide temporary relief for your pet. However, nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definitive treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your pet’s condition.

Specific therapy for chronic vomiting is highly variable and depends on the underlying cause. It may involve the administration of medications, changes in diet, and surgery.