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What is Regurgitation?

Regurgitation is the passive expulsion of fluid, food and other materials from the esophagus, or pharynx. Regurgitation is often mistaken for vomiting, but unlike vomited food, regurgitated food has not yet been digested by stomach acids. Regurgitation is rooted from congenital, idiopathic, obstructive and motility disorders that must be differentiated during a diagnostic exam carried out by a veterinary professional.

Regurgitation in cats is the act of ejecting undigested food from the throat after eating. A regurgitating cat will lower its head and easily eliminate food from the mouth. The regurgitated food never reaches the stomach, so the expelled food will appear in chunks of chewed up kibble. Compressed by the esophagus of the cat, the byproduct will be in a tubular form and covered with slimy mucus. Regurgitation in cat scan be caused by an esophageal obstruction, disease, abnormality of the esophagus, and for congenital or idiopathic reasons.

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Regurgitation Average Cost

From 399 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Regurgitation in Cats

Pet owners note regurgitation in cats approximately 30 minutes after their cat has consumed a meal. The feline will lower her head and expel food from her mouth with very little effort. Unlike vomiting, the expelled food will not be digested as it never reached the acids of the stomach. Instead, regurgitated food will appear as chewed, covered in mucus and formed in a tubular shape that matches the diameter of the esophagus. 

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Causes of Regurgitation in Cats

Regurgitation in cats is commonly caused by esophageal disease that can be either a motility disorder or an obstructive disorder. 

Obstructive Disorders

  • Spirocerca lupi

     infection

  • Paraesophageal tumor
  • Esophageal tumor
  • Stricture 
  • Foreign Body
  • Vascular ring anomaly 

Motility Disorders

  • Polyneuropathy 
  • Polymyopathy
  • Botulism
  • Organophosphate toxicity 
  • Lead toxicity 
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Hypoadrenocorticism 
  • Esophagitis due to trauma, drugs, chemical injury, or reflux disease
  • Acquired due to idiopathic reasons, systemic neuromuscular disease, obstructive lesions, or inflammation 
  • Congenital (congenital megaesophagus commonly affects Siamese cats) 
  • Idiopathic 
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Diagnosis of Regurgitation in Cats

Regurgitation in cats can be the result of several underlying causes, therefore your veterinarian will want to conduct a differential diagnosis. He or she will perform a series of test to eliminate the possibilities of what could be causing your feline to regurgitate food. It is highly important for the cat owner to describe the episodes of regurgitation in the feline. When you describe what happens when your cat regurgitates, the veterinarian can use this information to decide which diagnostic tests would be most appropriate. It might even be helpful for pet owners to record their cat regurgitating as a video on a cellular phone, to differentiate regurgitation from vomiting. 

Thoracic Radiographs

A radiograph, or x-ray, uses radioactive waves to view inside the body. The doctor will be able to see an esophageal obstruction or abnormality of the throat. 

Endoscopy

An endoscopy is a flexible tube and camera that passes down the feline’s esophagus, allowing the doctor to visualize the inside of the throat without invasive measures. 

Cytology

A cytology is the collection of cells, fluids or tissues to examine the nature of the material. The veterinary may collect pleural fluids from your cat’s esophagus to determine is an infection is present.

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Treatment of Regurgitation in Cats

The treatment plan for a cat with a regurgitation problem depends greatly on the underlying condition. The feline may be given nutrition support through an esophageal tube during the treatment process if the veterinarian feels routine feeding might not be possible or cause further damage to the esophagus. An esophageal tube, or feeding tube, might be placed if the cat required surgery or has been diagnosed with cancer. Additional treatment options your veterinarian might recommend, based on the underlying condition might include: 

Therapy Treatment

Esophageal strictures, vascular ring anomalies, neoplasia and other localized obstructions are commonly treated with localized therapy. 

Chemotherapy

Mediastinal lymphoma or squamous cell carcinomas that are causing esophageal compressions are likely treated with chemotherapy. 

Thoracoscopy or Thoracotomy

Surgical corrections of the esophagus in the case vascular ring anomaly or enlarged esophagus. 

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Recovery of Regurgitation in Cats

The prognosis for regurgitation in cats depends on the underlying cause of the cat regurgitating. If your cat is regurgitating for idiopathic, or unknown, reasons the veterinarian may ask you to alter the feline’s eating habits. At home, the veterinarian may ask you to experiment with different food consistencies to feed your regurgitating cat. Wet canned cat food and homemade diets are less likely to be regurgitated than dry kibble. You may also be asked to place the food dish on an elevated surface, therefore lifting the cat’s head up to eat and discouraging the normal stance of regurgitation. To make your cat slow down her eating habits, you may be asked to change the design of her food bowl to a flatter surface. A cat that takes time to eat, slows down her chewing, and slows down her swallowing is less likely to regurgitate her food. 

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Regurgitation Average Cost

From 399 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Regurgitation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Shorthair

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Nine Years

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Unknown severity

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7 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Regurgitating Food

I have a shorthair tabby cat and over the past month or two she’s started regurgitating her breakfast (she’s on dry food, same thing for the past 4 years) a couple times a week. It doesn’t happen during the day or evening after her lunch or dinner feeding but just after breakfast and sometimes if I give her some at night before we think she’s refrigerated a couple of times but aren’t sure if it’s from that feeding or her early breakfast at 6am which is before we get up in the morning. Otherwise she’s acting like her normal happy self, hungry for food, drinking water per usual and no diarrhea.

Aug. 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The first thing that I would think of, if she is doing well other than this occasional vomiting, would be to try and give her some hairball solution, and see if that is part of the problem. There are many over-the-counter brands of hairball pastes that you can give for hairballs. If that does not help, then there may be more going on, and it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine her and give you an idea as to what might need to happen. I hope that all goes well for her and she feels better soon.

Aug. 18, 2020

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Lucky

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Arabian Mau

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2 Months

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Skinny
Regurgitatio

My cat regurgitates immediately after every food he takes except for milk. He is getting skinnier with time and he is too skinny and small for his age. He wants to eat and he has appetite, but he regurgitates every single time.

June 18, 2018

Lucky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Lucky may have an anatomic defect that is causing this to happen. He may be able to tolerate very watery soft food, you can try that. Since I cannot see him, it would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian to see if there is something obvious that may be causing this problem.

June 18, 2018

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Mr Dave the Merlin

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Mackerel Tabby short hair domestic

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None

Cat regurgitating food after eating, normally within 20/30 minutes. No other symptoms. Appears happy and healthy. Alert and chatty. Usually happens when wet food given in the evening but very occasionally with dry food in the morning. Not every time, about 3/4 times a month

May 30, 2018

Mr Dave the Merlin's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are many possible causes for regurgitation, but generally we see it occurring more often in serious cases; also we commonly see regurgitation with dry food more than wet. There are various possible causes including nausea, bloating, oesophageal enlargement, oesophageal strictures, parasites among other causes. Without examining Mr Dave the Merlin I cannot narrow in on a possible cause and may be a good idea to visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 31, 2018

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Multiple cats

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DOMESTIC

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Vomiting, Regurgitating, Diarrhea

Hi. I seem to have several cats that have been vomiting and regurgitating a lot the past few days and I'm getting worried. Some of them also have diarrhea. I have changed their food but it hasn't really helped yet. They are eating and drinking normally though. Thanks. I could only put 1 year for age but they range from 8 weeks to 8 years. It isn't all of the cats, maybe about 5.

May 15, 2018

Multiple cats' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If all of the cats are vomiting and having diarrhea, you may have a problem with a bad food, or parasites. It would be best to have a fecal sample checked for parasites, and perhaps change the bag of food that you are feeding, to see if you can resolve this problem.

May 15, 2018

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Lilli

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Bengal

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Swallowing
Regurgitation

My cat has regurgitation since tommorw she is lying not eating or even moving if i forcefully feed her every time she throw the food out and water also she is not grooming herself and i have no vet in the area where i live please tell me whatshsoudl i do to make the food pass throw the esophagus

April 28, 2018

Lilli's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Unfortunately, without seeing a veterinarian, Lilly may not survive what is happening to her. She may have parasites, a foreign body, or an infectious disease. If you need to travel to see a veterinarian, that may be what you need to do for her.

April 28, 2018

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Jazmine

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Siamese

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Not Chewing Food

We have a 11 year old Siamese that regurgitates sometimes after eating, We feed her dry food. We have taken her to the Vet numerous times, we have changed her food to sensitive stomach and now on prescription food.She eats then shortly after eating she regurgitates whole food.We thought maybe she was eating to fast so we put a ball in her food dish to slow her eating down. this week she has regurgitated 4 times. She drinks a lot of water.The one thing we have noticed she likes sitting near the heat vents and sleeps all day

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Matilda

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DOMESTIC

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Drowsiness
Loss Of Appetite
Regurgitating

My little girl Matilda is being lazier and sleeping all day. When I call her name she kept sleeping when she usually gets up and comes. She also only ate half of her food and sometimes she regurgitate. She stays indoor and outdoor. She's only 6 months old, could she be pregant?

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OG

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DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sleeps S Abit More

My 10 yo domestic boy has had no problem adjusting to indoor living these past 3 mos. He was I/Outdoor. Now just twice, he regurgitated what looks like long strands of poo, but it's just undigested food. Litter box is only pee. I do not want to spend $ on vet. Can you advise? only happened twice this week, and never before. Last poop was about 4 days ago I believe. thank you jdevorah@aol.com

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Zorro

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Regurgitation

My kitty Zorro has been dealing with regurgitation since I got him. He is only 6 years old. When I brought him in the did all the test and prediagnosed him with IBS. The vet suggested that I give him Metamucil once a week, which was working well for awhile. Within the last month, he began regurgitating his food more frequently. I am not sure what to do anymore.

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Hash

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Siberian

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17 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

I have a 17 year old cat that goes through spells of vomiting. It's usually whole kibble, or mashed kibble. He will do this for a week or so, and then it will stop for a week or so. He keeps his appetite, drinks water, & everything seems fine with the litterbox. This has been going on for a while now and I'm getting worried. He has lost some weight and I know if he could keep down what he eats, he'd gain weight. He still has energy, plays with the other younger cats, and loves chasing the laser. I have an appointment tomorrow with the vet, but am hoping for some insight before we go. Could this be something simple to fix or should I prepare myself for the possibility of it being serious. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/regurgitation

Regurgitation Average Cost

From 399 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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