What is Chronic Vomiting?
Chronic vomiting is not a condition by itself, but may be aChronic vomiting is not a condition by itself, but may be accompanied by other symptoms and is often symptomatic of other conditions.
Occasional vomiting in cats is not always a sign of a serious disease, particularly if the vomit contains clumps of hair. However, chronic vomiting, or vomiting that lasts more than three days or occurs more than once a week, can be an indication of a serious condition. Persistent vomiting for several days can lead to dehydration and, if left untreated, may become life threatening.
Symptoms of Chronic Vomiting in Cats
Aside from the obvious act of vomiting, other signs of a serious condition may accompany the chronic vomiting. If any of the following symptoms are present in your cat, consult your vet immediately:
- General weakness or lethargy
- Signs of nausea
- Frequent licking of the lips
- Excessive salivating and/or swallowing
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Signs of pain
If you live in a multi-cat household and all your cats are suffering from chronic vomiting, you should seek immediate veterinary attention as this could be a sign of a contagious condition.
Causes of Chronic Vomiting in Cats
There are many causes of chronic vomiting in cats. In some cases, it may be a result of intolerance to their diet or other types of intestinal upset. However, chronic vomiting may also be a sign of serious conditions like bacterial infections, obstruction of the intestine, the presence of a parasite in the digestive system, bowel disease, or certain types of cancer.
Diagnosis of Chronic Vomiting in Cats
The vet will first assess the cat’s health through a physical examination. They will ask you about your cat’s health history as well as any events that may have caused the vomiting. Be sure to answer all their questions, and be prepared to provide a list of your cat’s medications if they are taking any.
The vet will then conduct a range of tests in order to pinpoint the cause of the chronic vomiting. These may include fecal analysis, blood tests, x-ray, ultrasound, and biopsies. Blood and fecal tests will identify parasites or bacterial infections. If none are present, the vet may use an ultrasound or x-ray to determine whether or not there is a foreign object lodged in the digestive system. If these tests still don’t reveal anything, the vet will then take a biopsy to determine if your cat’s chronic vomiting is caused by cancer.
Treatment of Chronic Vomiting in Cats
The method of treatment will vary based on the cause of the vomiting. In almost all cases of chronic vomiting, your vet will suggest strictly feeding your cat a bland diet, often of boiled chicken and rice. However, your vet will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment based on the diagnosis.
If the vomiting is a result of diet intolerance, the vet may prescribe anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medication in addition to dietary changes.
In many cases of chronic vomiting caused by disease, treatment may be more aggressive depending on the disease. Hospitalization and intravenous fluid therapy may be required to restore electrolytes and fluids lost during vomiting. In some cases, you may be able to treat your cat at home with the help of prescribed drugs.
Bacterial infections are often treated through the use of antibiotics. If parasites are present, these can be eradicated through the use of anti-parasitic or deworming medications.
If an x-ray or ultrasound shows an obstruction, removing it will generally require surgery. Your vet will discuss specific options with you, including anesthesia and recovery times based on the type of obstruction.
Depending on the location and stage of cancer, treatment methods may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. Your vet will discuss your options with you based on your cat’s specific needs.
Recovery of Chronic Vomiting in Cats
Your cat’s prognosis will depend on the cause of the vomiting. In most cases of chronic vomiting that are not life threatening, the prognosis is good.
Be sure to follow all your vet’s instructions regarding treatment and recovery carefully. If your cat is on an antibiotic regimen, it is imperative that you administer the medication for the entire duration of the recommended treatment period. Failure to do so could result in aggressive recurrence of the infection and symptoms.
If your cat has had surgery, ensure that they do not irritate the surgery site. After any major operation or procedure, you’ll need to provide a warm, safe place for your cat to rest. Additionally, you should ensure that clean drinking water is always available and accessible. Before you make any changes to your cat’s diet, consult your vet first. They will be able to advise you on special dietary modifications.
Chronic Vomiting Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Fluffy vomits about 2-5 times a week. Occasionally has a hairball but is more often food. My cat is on a very expensive grain free diet.
Most pets do not require a grain free diet; the vomiting may be cause may many different causes and is very vague to start making a diagnosis from. The most common cause of vomiting in cats is hairballs, but even hair irritating the throat can cause vomiting; cats have very sensitive throats, so much so that if we need to intubate a cat (put a tube in the trachea to deliver anaesthetic) we numb the larynx with spray first. Other causes of vomiting may be ingestion of poisonous material, foreign bodies, parasites or systemic disease; given Fluffy’s age, I would recommend having a blood test and a check over by their Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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