Friday, December 17, 2004

Frightening Mystery Vomit

I hear that cats tend to vomit a lot and sometimes for reasons that are not serious. That said, two times in the past day, we have found cat vomit on the livingroom floor. We have not witnessed the vomiting so we cannot be 100% sure of who is doing it. I suspect that it is Beowulf, though, because I found him near the first pile of vomit last night. Of course, it could be both of them.

So what do I do? Is this a "rush them to the vet" moment or a "wait and see" situation? I'm not one of those people who goes to the vet as a last resort, but I can't afford to be one who rushes to the vet every week. We've had the boys for 4 weeks and been to vets about 5 times (some for vaccinations, but still). The time when we most thought we had an emergency was when Arthur's eye got swollen, but after going to the emergency vet and not being seen, his eye was almost 100% better by the time we took him to the regular vet the next day.

At present, neither cat appears ill, though I have seen that Arthur is eating more wet food than Beowulf of late. Both incidents of vomiting occurred during "free feeding" time, meaning the boys had had dry food available to snack on. I believe that Beowulf had just eaten a few pieces of kibble before his incident last night.

They are eating the same brand and type of dry food on the same schedule. Ditto for their wet food. Now I hear that eating too fast can cause vomiting and so can competition for food (Arthur is hogging up the food a bit). True, this hasn't happened before, but we've only had the boys for a month and they are growing up and sorting out their hierchy.


socidoc said...

Hi again Avram,
I appreciate your concern about the vomit. Cats do sometimes vomit up hair (or 'hairballs' which actually look more like little poops, but made of tightly matted fur). Most cats/kittens do vomit occasionally, because of a variety of reasons... some are not knowable I think! I'd say... check the vomit to be sure there are no 'moving parts' (i.e. worms) and then just wait. If there continues to be vomit the next day, maybe a call to the vet would be helpful. Usually they will give some brief advice over the phone for free. Sometimes kittens can eat little pieces of stuff they shouldn't and those will come back up. Both of my cats tend to vomit three times, then stop (one of them vomits when she eats grass, the other when she has a hairball). Just keep an eye on them, if it continues beyond one day, give the vet a call for advice. That's my advice! :-)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry much about it unless it happens frequently. I had a cat for 16 years who probably vomitted every week or so. If it turns out to be a recurring hairball problem, just get some Petramalt from a pet store. Most cats like the taste of it, so it is not a problem getting them to use it.

The main thing is that they are acting healthy and are eating. It's vomitting with lethargy and loss of appetite that signals something serious.

P.S. And you're right about the fact that if cats gobble their food down too quickly ... it can cause vomitting.

Avram said...

Thanks. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled and see how long this persists. At $70 per cat per visit, I don't want to show up at the vets' with both cats in tow, shell out $140, only to hear "we really don't know if there's a problem. Keep watching and come back to us if you notice anything interesting."

Anonymous said...

Hi, Avram,

You can tell a lot by consistency of the specimen. If there are recognizable chunks of dry food, usually that is just simple regurgitation, referred to as "snarf and barf" in my house! If it looks well-digested, I'd adopt the wait-and-see-if-it-happens-again approach. You know about hairballs from the other comments. I have a cat who never barfed until he was 5 years old. He's 8 now and has some chronic vomiting with mucous. He also had chronic diarrhea and was tentatively diagnosed as having inflammatory bowel syndrome since the symptoms improved after a course of steroids. He had also lost a lot of weight and was dehydrated when his symptoms were most severe. So, for your boys, I'd agree with the others that there is probably nothing to worry about right now; just keep an eye on them.

As for cleaning the stuff up, if you're lucky the cats will clean it up themselves before you notice!
Sorry to be so graphic; I'm a microbiologist so I'm used to dealing with gross specimens!


Wendy said...

Hey, Peggy - I used to be a microbiology medical technologist (before I married my boss and had to move on). Cat vomiting is not my favorite topic, but it's part of being a cat owner. I've never let it concern me, as almost always it is a single incident over the course of weeks.

My cat left a little vomit pile next to her dish yesterday - first time I've seen that in a long time. Might be that our housecleaner REALLY got her stoned on catnip the day before. Anyway, she seems just fine today.

But usually it's the hairball vomit, which as others have said is identifiable by the glob of hair. Or, of other things they ate that are coming back up the natural way.

As a fellow microbiologist, I know that the stomach is a practically sterile environment due to the stomach acid, so I just grab a paper towel and scoop it up and toss it in the trash and clean the floor area with some soap and water and wash my hands. It's really no more gross than the catfood itself. A WHOLE LOT cleaner than the litter box!

Timmy said...

I've only thrown up twice since I came to live here in March. The first time because I ate a piece of a candy wrapper out of the garbage pail and the other because I ate my crunchies too fast. It was scary for me and I didn't know what to think of it. A good way to figure out who did the yuckies is to check their fur...if it's standing on end and they look like they saw a ghost, chances are...they did it!

Anonymous said...

Our cat (12yrs old) goes a week or more then vomits 2-3 times for a night or two then is ok. Does tend to "inhale" her food at times, occasionally see obvious hairballs and do feed her malt but it seems to be just annoying and only a little worrisome. No weight loss - actually 25+ pounds. From what I am reading this is more normal than we thought??

Anonymous said...

I recently had to put down my male cat because I wasn't aware that they could become "blocked". His symptoms started with vomiting and I thought nothing of it because it is not unusual for a cat to do that now and then. But if it is a male cat and the vomiting is accompanied by a behavioral change watch out! Check to make sure he is peeing and if he goes outside his box that is also a huge red flag. I didn't realize my cat was not urinating because of the other cat and by the time I took him to the vet he was too sick to save. They didn't tell me how bad it was and got almost $2,000 out of me before he finally passed away. Which is another story... but if it is a male cat, pay close attention, if he has a urinary blockage he needs to be taken to the vet or he wont last more than a couple of days.

Anonymous said...

my kitten of 8 weeks has been sick twice today and she hasnt pooed yet, but she is actually absolutly fine am i just being paranoid or is there something to worry about?

Anonymous said...

Hello my cat just vomited I am not sure if it is a hairball or not but I can describe it ... it looked like a little poo covered in curry or yellow browny liquid ... Should I get him checked out or just watch for a few days ??? Thanks Chanel