Monday, March 11, 2013

Top 6 Reasons Your Cat Vomits

After I graduated from college, I borrowed one of my family's cats to keep me company in my new apartment. One morning after she had breakfast, she vomited. After supper, she did it again. The next day, the same thing happened. I freaked out. I called a vet clinic, explained in a shaking voice what was happening -- I was sure she was dying! -- and got an appointment the next morning. A quick consultation later, the vet sent me home with a tube of Petromalt, and after the first dose she ejected the biggest hairball I'd ever seen. Actually, most vomiting is caused by fairly innocuous things, and here are the top culprits.

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Sick-looking calico cat by Shutterstock

1. Hairballs

When your cat grooms himself, loose hairs get stuck on the little comblike barbs on his tongue. Because he can't spit that fur out, he swallows it, and if too much of it clumps in his stomach, it doesn't leave a lot of room for food. You can help to prevent hairballs by grooming your cat regularly. Even short-haired cats benefit from regular brushing.

2. Eating too fast

My cat Bella is a puker, and the fact that she vacuums up her food as if she's never going to eat again is the main reason. In order to get her to slow down, I squish her canned food down into the bottom of her bowl so she has to lap it up rather than scarf it down in huge chunks. Another trick is to use a food bowl with a lump in the center, which will force your cat to slow down.

3. New food

If you switch cat food brands, something in the new product could irritate your cat's stomach. Switching from a dry-food-only diet to canned food can also cause vomiting, because canned food is quite rich compared to dry. Try switching back to the old food to see if the vomiting stops.

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Cat eating from a cat grass garden by Shutterstock

4. Eating grass or plants

If you have plants in your house, your cat may get the urge to chew on the leaves. Be sure that the plants in your home are non-toxic to cats. Consider planting a cat grass garden so your feline friend will leave your houseplants alone.

5. Parasites

Heavy worm infestations can cause vomiting. If you see evidence of worms in your cat's vomit or feces, get to your vet and get some deworming medicine. You may pay more up front for the stuff your vet provides, but in the long run you'll save because you won't be buying dose after dose of ineffective over-the-counter remedies.

6. Stomach obstructions

Some cats eat plastic, paper, cat toys, rubber bands, clothes, or whatever they can get their mouths on. If you suspect that your cat has eaten a foreign object, call your vet right away, because this can be a life-threatening situation.

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Sometimes surgery is required to remove foreign objects. Cat in cone collar by Shutterstock

A word of warning: Vomiting can also be caused by poisoning or by very serious diseases. If you suspect your cat has eaten something toxic, call your vet right away for first-aid instructions. If your cat's vomit is bloody or black like coffee grounds, get to the vet immediately. If your cat is vomiting every day, refusing to eat or drink, behaving oddly, or isn't grooming properly, call the vet and get him in for an appointment as soon as possible.
Do you have a cat who frequently vomits? What have you done about it? Please share your experiences in the comments!

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