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What are Gastroenteritis?

The most common symptoms of gastroenteritis are vomiting and diarrhea. Although it’s normal for your cat to vomit or have diarrhea on occasion, if it is happening repeatedly within a short time frame, this signals something more serious. Cats can become severely dehydrated if their gastroenteritis is not properly treated, so it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Gastroenteritis describes the inflammation of your cat’s stomach and intestines, or the gastrointestinal tract. It can be caused by something as minor as a change in your cat’s diet to more serious issues such as infections, pancreatitis, and intestinal blockages.

Gastroenteritis Average Cost

From 336 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Gastroenteritis in Cats

Gastroenteritis disrupts the functioning of your cat’s gastrointestinal tract and causes discomfort. You may notice your cat acting sluggish or lazy, with little to no energy. Besides lethargy, some of the other symptoms you may observe include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry heaving
  • Gagging
  • Abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
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Causes of Gastroenteritis in Cats

A cat’s stomach and intestines can become irritated and inflamed for a number of reasons. Some of the underlying causes will require treatment by a veterinarian, while others can be treated at home. However, you will need to bring your cat to the vet to determine the cause. Gastroenteritis is most commonly caused by:

  • Dietary changes
  • Reaction to medication
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Pancreatitis, or other abdominal disorders
  • Bacterial infection
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Blockages
  • Virus
  • Parasitic infection
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Diagnosis of Gastroenteritis in Cats

To determine what is causing your cat’s gastroenteritis, the vet will need to perform tests to eliminate as many causes as possible. As soon as you arrive at the vet’s office, it’s important to give the vet information on your cat’s diet and medical history. If your cat has just started to take a new medication or eat a new cat food, don’t forget to bring this up in the consultation. Vets will also need to know if it’s possible your cat has been exposed to anything toxic in your home. For example, if you accidentally left a household cleaner out where your cat could reach it or sprayed pesticides in your yard, it’s important to let the vet know. 

After collecting all of this information from you, the vet will most likely perform a complete blood count test, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile. These tests will help the vet identify any abnormalities in the cat’s health. For example, if a bacterial infection is the cause, the vet will see an elevated level of white blood cells in the complete blood count test. The vet may also perform an ultrasound on the cat’s abdomen to determine if there are any blockages that could be causing the cat discomfort.

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Treatment of Gastroenteritis in Cats

The treatment of gastroenteritis in cats will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. First, the vet will focus on stabilizing your cat if the tests reveal the cat is severely dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance due to vomiting and diarrhea.  If the diarrhea and vomiting is ongoing, the vet can also administer medications that will disrupt stomach and intestinal activity. 

If a bacterial or parasitic infection is the cause, medication will be prescribed to your cat. However, if it’s a virus, you will have to wait for it to pass since it can’t be treated with medication. Medication will also be administered if the cause is pancreatitis or hyperthyroidism. However, it’s important to note the vet will most likely require that you wait about 24 hours before giving the first dose of medication. During the first 24 hours, the treatment will focus on putting a stop to the vomiting and diarrhea. If you don’t stop the vomiting before you administer medication, chances are your cat will throw up a pill not long after you give it to him.

Most gastroenteritis cases can be treated with medication. However, your cat will need surgery if the cause of the gastroenteritis is a blockage in the stomach or intestines. 

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Recovery of Gastroenteritis in Cats

After your cat is rehydrated and given medication to slow down his gastrointestinal tract, he should begin to immediately feel better. If the symptoms go away, the vet will most likely not need to see your cat again. However, if after 48 hours, your cat is still exhibiting gastroenteritis symptoms, you should have him reevaluated. 

The vet may ask that you adjust your cat’s diet while he recovers from gastroenteritis. You may need to cut back on the food you give your cat for the first 24 hours and then slowly begin to reintroduce him to very bland food that won’t upset his stomach. The vet may also tell you to limit the amount of water your cat drinks for the first 24 hours. But, do not make these decisions on your own—always ask a veterinarian what is right for your cat.

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Gastroenteritis Average Cost

From 336 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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Gastroenteritis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Short hair cat

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting, Diarrhea

My cat has been vomiting bile and has diarrhea. This has been going on for only today, and yesterday he was very much "normal". Today he won't eat, but seems alert, isn't avoidant of the other cat or us, but is definitely not as energetic as usual. He has not had a diet change in several years, and eats a urinary diet (due to struvite crystals; We have witnessed him urinate so it is not that). What should we do?

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Since he seems to be doing okay otherwise, you may be able to feed him a bland diet of boiled white chicken and boiled white rice for a day or two and see if things resolve. If he continues to vomit or have diarrhea, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian, as he may need treatment. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Not sure

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Three Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea Vomiting

My cat is vomiting cleat and foamy

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kittens are prone to parasites and infectious diseases, and they can become dehydrated quickly. If your kitten is vomiting and having diarrhea, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian right away. They will be able to examine your kitten, see what's going on, and get treatment. I hope that everything goes well for your kitten.

July 28, 2020

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Colsten

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short hair

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Stomach Problems Vomitin

My cat started throwing up Thursday after eating grass. Then on friday he began moaning and throwing up. I took him to vet and they told me that he had a gastric problem. They have him digestive care can food but he wont eat it. He will only eat his kimble but only a little. How long does it normally take to get over gastric issues.

Sept. 24, 2018

Colsten's Owner

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Fluffy

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Mixed breed

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My cat has been vomiting very frequently this past week(2-3 times a day including in the middle of the night). He does not act any differently though, he does not have diarrhea, he still eats, does not seem to be in any type of pain, and he goes throughout his day as usual. He also drinks water very regularly. He is about 10 to 11 years old and has never had any serious illnesses. Me and my family are hoping you could point us in the right direction of what we should do.

July 24, 2018

Fluffy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Vomiting is a vague symptom and may be attributable to many different conditions so it is difficult to narrow in on a single possible cause; infections, parasites, foreign objects, hairballs, poisoning among many other conditions may cause vomiting. Try to withhold Fluffy’s food for around 12 hours and then slowly introduce food to see if it can be kept down; if not you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

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Snickers

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Calico

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3 Months

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My kitten has been vomiting frequently, nothing has changed in her diet and she hasn’t been exposed to anything. She eats wet/ Sheba and kibble food. I try to feed them at 6am and 6 pm. Not sure what the issue is

July 13, 2018

Snickers' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Vomiting is a vague symptom as it is common with many different conditions including infections, parasites, foreign objects, poisoning, medication side effects, stress, dietary intolerance among other causes; try to encourage Snickers to eat a bland meal like boiled chicken chunks with or without a litter rice and see if it can be kept down. If Snickers is still vomiting you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 13, 2018

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Moosh

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mixed

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9 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up

My cat started vomiting undigested food on Thursday so we put him off food until Friday morning which he did again then he vomited yet again even though I fed nothing more than a teaspoon he throws up his food almost 15 minutes after he eats and throws up bile an hour and a half later I couldn’t get ahold of any vets because we don’t have clinics until I was able to get a vet that night he gave him an antibiotic shot then a shot for stomach worms and a pill he told us to wait an hour and a half and then feed him again which caused him to throw up once again everything he ate. Following that from 1:30 am until 11 am he threw up approximately 10 times all of which were what seemed to be bile and it had blood once in it as well. On Saturday the vet was open and he administered an iv and an antibiotic shot which helped stop the vomiting so after 18 hours we fed him the smallest bit of rice and wet food. Again he did not throw up following that I gave him oral anti biotic 4 hours after he ate and 3 hours have passed and he just throw up again something green with a little bit of rice. The vet says it’s normal but I’m worried its gonna start another pattern of vomiting. As for his level of activity he’s walking around and he seems hungry with an appetite but he’s obviously not his usually playful self.

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Milo

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Persian

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8 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Vomit
Bile Vomiting
Drolling

My cat, milo stopped eating once. I thought maybe he might eat the next day. But it started vomiting. Took him To the vet. He put 2 injections and an ORS which he later again vomited. He has been on IV since then. And it’s the 4th day i have tried to give him liquid and food but it throws up. What should i do

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Pillu

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Cat Persian

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3 Months

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Dirrh Vomit Hypothermia

My cat is 3 months old and is suffering from gastro infection and hypo thermos it is very hard for him to recover as he is very small and weak.he puked onece and was loose deficating in sleep without consious ness.doctor said they can't guarantee his living.

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Lucien

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Sphynx

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7 Months

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Temperature
Blood In Stool
Diaherroa

Hi. Lucien has had diaherroa for months now. He has had stool test done and it came back clear of any worms or parasites. However whatever it is has now, effected another of my cats. They have uncontrollable stools watery stools.The vet can't figure out what it is and keeps prescribing us Antibiotics and probiotics. This is doing nothing and unfortunately it has come to us having to crate them in order to contain it. Any idea what it could be I was thinking maybe a rota virus or Gastroenteritis. I just want my boys to feel better and not have to be,trapped in a crate.please help.

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Winnie

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Maine Coone

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6 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Both of my cats (Winnie 6 year old Maine coon and Hastings 5 year old rescue) started throwing up a bunch then their appetites went way down and started to have diarrhea. I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized it started with a new bag of food (same good they’ve had for 5 years, natural balance salmon and pea) which they are now refusing to eat no matter what yummy treat I mix it with. So I take the bag back to bosleys and notice the year of the best before date is scratched off. The manager says there’s a good chance the bag was out of date and refunds me. We also pick out a higher quality of food to switch them to. Hastings eats the new food and gets better immediately. Winnie still refuses to eat and is starting to be very lethargic. I take Winnie in to the vet and we get full blood panel and pee tested. The only thing that’s showing is she has some chrystals in her pee. So we put her on special food to break those down. She only gets worse so we go back in and this time we get an X-ray. It shows something in her upper intestines but not what it is. This is where I make a terrible decision as an owner and I’m constantly beating myself up for this. I decided not to get the ultrasound but to have exploratory surgery. Because at this point she can barely walk and Im so worried and feel big action needs to be taken. I also had so much trust in the natural balance food so assumed the blockage would be something she needed removed. But as you may have guessed the blockage was a build up of poop. She hadn’t gone in about a week at this point. Nothing else was bad except her liver was starting to not look great since she wasn’t eating or drinking. I was already syringing water into her at this point and we add on syringing Urgent care wet food inti her as well. No improvement almost a week later so we go in to get fluids injected and we're also given metonia to hopefully get her to move the poop down the intestines since it’s stuck up top. There’s still no improvement or bowel movement a few days later. And all of a sudden she starts grunting and moaning and her pupils go from slits to saucepans over and over. I pick her up to rush her to the vet and when I do a few tiny pieces of poo come out. It’s clear the blockage moved down but she has no strength to push it out. So we finally gave her an enima. That was just two days ago. My vet still seems unsure of what it is but suspects it might be gastroenteritis. After doing what I can on google I think so too. I’ve reported it to natural balance and they say the bag was not out of date but maybe got damaged in transport. If there was a small hole in the bag the food would have spoiled and had a similar reaction to poisoning Winnie. They’re doing an “investigation” now but I don’t expect they will take responsibility. To those who may be questioning why Hastings got better and Winnie didn’t, it’s most likely because she’s a pure bread and therefore has a weaker immune system. She’s so badly off right now. Not even able to stand. If anyone has had something like this happen please share. And if a vet has any insight I would so appreciate it.

Gastroenteritis Average Cost

From 336 quotes ranging from $200 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800