Question: I have 2 cats. One throws up constantly. She has thicker fur (she is a tortie) than the other cat. I try to brush her as often as I can but she’s not a huge fan. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Doc Bales: Thank you for writing in! This is such an important and misunderstood topic. We can help a lot of cats and the people who love them with this information.
Most cat parents deal with cat vomit. Vomit is so common in regular life with cats that we have come to accept it as normal.
Let me be very clear, vomiting in cats is common, but it is not normal. If your cat is vomiting more than once a month, there is a problem and you should take your cat to the vet.
So, what could it be? These answers are it could be a number of things – ranging from gobbling up food to fast to food allergies, to systemic diseases like kidney or thyroid disease, to IBD and even cancer. All of these things may look very similar. The only way for your veterinarian to get to the bottom of the problem is with a thorough history and physical exam. Based on those results, your vet may recommend blood work, radiographs, ultrasound, and even biopsies to get a diagnosis.
This sounds extreme when you are pretty sure it’s just a hairball, right? Well, hairballs are also common, but not normal. Cats are designed to groom and in the process, consume hair. You can not brush your way into a solution here. This hair should pass normally through the GI tract and not need to be vomited up. So, if your cat is vomiting hairballs, either they are overgrooming (due to stress or fleas or other causes of itch) and consuming more hair than their body can handle or their is a motility problem in their GI tract that is preventing the hair from passing normally through the tract. There is a long list of causes for altered GI motility. Again, the best way to get to the bottom of this and help your cat is with a veterinary visit.
Please let us know how things go for you and your cat. If your cat gets a clean bill of health at the veterinarian, we can talk about the ways to reduce stress for your cat by introducing enrichment into your house. In fact, it is my very favorite topic. But first, we need to make sure there is not an underlying medical condition that needs attention. We will be waiting to hear from you!
Wags and Purrs,
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy! Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.
Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”