We all know that sound – the hacking and gagging that our cats make when they’re either expelling a hairball or throwing up. There are many reasons your feline friend may be vomiting; some are more serious than others. As their owner, it’s important for you to know when your cat simply just ate too much too quickly, or if there is something more serious causing them to vomit.
Domestic cats can spend up to fifty percent of their day grooming themselves. Their tongues have hook-shaped protrusions on their tongues, called papillae, to help with the grooming process. This means they end up swallowing a good bit of the loose hair they lick from their coats.
Their hair is made of keratin, which animals are unable to digest, so most of the time it goes through the digestive tract and comes out when your cat defecates. But sometimes it comes back up in the form of a disgusting, soggy mass of hair, known as a hairball.
Frequency – Because cats have developed a digestive tract that should be able to handle normal amounts of fur, hairballs shouldn’t be that frequent. Even long-haired cats shouldn’t develop hairballs more than twice a year, although those felines with sensitive stomachs may have them more often. If you notice your cat is expelling more hairballs that he usually does, you should notify your vet about the change, as it could be a sign of a serious issue, such as:
Sometimes cats will eat too much or too fast which leads to them vomiting the entire meal back up.
If you’re noticing your cat is throwing up undigested food on a regular basis, you should ask your vet about ways to slow down her eating or how much food should be given for a single feeding.
For the most part, these nasty little parasites set up camp in the lower parts of your cat’s digestive tract. However, if there is a great number of adult parasites, they might be forced to move higher, which could result in upset stomach and frequent vomiting.
Intestinal parasites should always be a concern as they can lead to anemia and other more serious complications. If you suspect this is the cause of your cat’s vomiting, you should bring him to the vet, along with a stool sample.
A cat develops a food allergy when their immune system mistakes foodborne protein as an invader it wants to attack. This can happen at any point in your cat’s life, and she can suddenly become allergic to a food or ingredient she never was before. The most common foods that trigger a food allergy in cats are:
Symptoms of food allergies in cats include:
Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent a food allergy from developing, and identifying which food or ingredient is the trigger can be tricky. It is important you speak with your vet about starting an elimination diet.
Feline lymphoma most often affects the intestines. Vomiting and diarrhea are common signs of gastrointestinal lymphoma, which unfortunately is difficult to treat. It happens when lymphocytes, the major cells found in the lymph nodes, are attacked by cancer cells. These cells cause inflammation.
If you notice your cat has lost weight, has frequent vomiting and diarrhea, or has stopped eating, you should schedule an appointment with your vet.
There is no true way to prevent lymphoma, however keeping your cat away from carcinogens, like cigarette smoke, can lessen the likelihood of it developing. The sooner lymphoma is identified, the better the prognosis. Your vet will conduct a number of tests to rule out other causes first.
As a general rule, any abnormal or frequent vomiting in your cat should be mentioned to your vet.