It's a myth that cats are "supposed" to throw up often. If your cat is vomiting, take a look at all the reasons why cats throw up. The solution may be as simple as brushing more often or changing your cat's diet, but it's also possible your cat needs medical care.
Hairballs That hacking sound you hear when your cat is trying to bring up a hairball is gagging or retching, not coughing. Veterinarian Race Foster says hairballs are a digestive issue — hair accumulates in the cat’s stomach or intestines — not a respiratory problem.
While a cat throwing up hairballs is not a medical emergency, hairballs can block the intestinal tract, making it impossible for the cat to either eliminate or vomit, Foster says on the website Pet Education.com.
To prevent hairballs...
Comb your cat often with a flea or greyhound comb.
Add wet food to his diet to keep his skin hydrated and in top condition, minimizing the shedding that causes hairballs.
Add wild salmon or fish oil to his diet, also to help prevent dry skin and shedding.
Home remedies for hairballs include...
Canned pumpkin (not pie filling!). Most cats like it and will eat it off a spoon, or add it to your cat's wet food.
Slippery elm bark coats the digestive tract, allowing the hair to pass through easily.
Egg yoke lecithin dissolves the fat that holds the hair together in clumps. Add it to your cat’s wet food.
Giving him a pot of cat grass to nibble. Grass provides fiber to help hair move through the gastrointestinal tract.
If you use the hairball gels or treats sold at pet supply stores, be sure to give them about two hours before or after a meal. Because they act as laxatives, they can interfere with the absorption of the cat’s food.
While hairball control cat food also provides additional fiber, that fiber often comes from beet pulp or powdered cellulose. Neither provides adequate nutrition for a cat.
Other Blockages A swallowed string, tumor or severe constipation can all cause frequent vomiting and require immediate medical care. Even hairballs can cause an impaction so serious the cats needs surgery.
Eating Too Fast A cat throwing up undigested food is often a sign that he's eating too fast. Free feeding wet food or offering your cat several small meals a day will keep him from getting so hungry he gulps down his food and vomits it back up. Raising his dish off the floor so he doesn't have to bend down so far to eat can help, too.
Change In Diet A sudden change in diet causes many cats to throw up. To avoid stomach upset, change your cat’s diet gradually over several days. If you're changing his dry food, add just a bite of the new food to the old and slowly increase the amount of the new food until he’s no longer eating any of the old. If you're introducing new wet food, give him just a bite of the new food in a separate dish and gradually increase the amount over several days.
Food Sensitivity Food sensitivities often cause vomiting, diarrhea or both in cats. Even one ingredient in a cat's food can be enough to cause stomach upset. Ingredients most likely to cause a food sensitivity and vomiting are corn, soy, wheat gluten, artificial colorings and preservatives, fish and beef. The solution may be as simple as switching your cat's brand of dry food to one that contains no grains, or transitioning him to an all-wet-food diet.
Since food sensitivities develop over time, it's a good idea to feed a variety of brands with a variety of ingredients. That could prevent your cat from becoming sensitive to one particular kind of food.
Chronic Disease Bladder stones and crystals, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney disease, pancreatitis and liver disease can all cause frequent vomiting. If your cat throws up often and you've ruled out the other causes of vomiting, he needs to see a vet.
Medication Vomiting is a side effect of many antibiotics and some pain medications. Methimazole, the drug used most often to treat hyperthyroidism in cats, can also cause vomiting. If your cat throws up frequently while on medication, discontinue the medicine and contact your veterinarian.
Probiotics for cats or even a spoonful of plain yogurt can help with the vomiting caused by antibiotics. Add the probiotics to the cat's wet food.
Toxins And Parasites Many plants, antifreeze, some household cleaners and air fresheners can all be toxic to cats and can cause vomiting. If you suspect your cat is throwing up because he ate a toxic plant and you don’t know the name of the plant, take a leaf with you when you go to the vet so it can be identified.
Intestinal worms and heartworm disease can also cause vomiting. Different parasites respond to different treatments, so seek veterinary advice before treating a cat who's throwing up for worms.
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