Cat Digestive Issues: When to Call the Vet

October 18, 2013

If you have experience with more than one cat, you know how delicate the digestive system of some felines can be.  The least little disruption in their routines might deliver a smelly mess of barf for you to clean.  Our large Snowshoe Siamese, Chico, is one of those finicky felines.  He scarfs down food like it’s his last meal and once in awhile, we are greeted with a repeat appearance of that meal.  If our grandson visits, Chico will vomit.  Guaranteed, because he is terrified of children.  It doesn’t take much to upset Chico’s tummy, and we’ve learned to mostly ignore his issues because he quickly recovers.

Chico, all grown-up

Chico, a Finicky Kitty


A cat’s digestive system may be negatively affected by stress or life events.  Chico was a well-adjusted kitty until a few years ago.  His best feline buddy, Jake, became ill and the veterinarian had to euthanize him.  The illness was sudden and Jake’s death left a hole in all our hearts.  However, Chico never fully recovered from the loss of his pal.

Along with withdrawing from most of the family, Chico stopped eating.  It took several weeks to persuade this boy to eat normally.  We dealt with both vomiting and diarrhea as he mourned Jake.

Sometimes, cats refuse to eat if their food bowl is dirty.  A strange noise can cause Fluffy to stop eating or vomit.  Many triggers can affect a cat’s appetite.  Allergies may result in upset tummies.

If a kitty goes too long without liquids, kidney or urinary tract damage may occur.  Some cats have to live with finicky tummies, but you should be vigilant with your cat’s diet and eating habits.  Don’t allow her to become dehydrated.  Eating a healthy diet will help soothe some of the misery.

Our Lucy is a dainty eater.  She never pigs out and nothing seems to bother her or cause her stress.  Last year when she failed to eat her breakfast and subsequently vomited twice, we knew there was a problem.  Lucy visited her veterinarian that same day.  Fortunately, her illness wasn’t serious, and she was back to normal within a couple days.

Learn to recognize the “hairball hack.”  Novice cat owners often believe that their pet is ill when they first hear the sounds of Fluffy trying to hack up a hairball.  It may take several tries over several hours, but the end result will be a nasty glob of gunk in the middle of a pool of bile.  That behavior is normal for a cat.  Feline grooming includes a lot of licking, which results in a whole lot of fur being swallowed.  That fur is not digestible and usually reappears as a hairball, often where you least want to see it.

The key is in knowing when to pay attention to a cat that vomits or has diarrhea.  If the vomiting occurs several times in a short period of time, the animal shows signs of a sore belly, or has blood in the vomit, take that kitty to a vet, pronto, to rule out a serious condition.  If vomiting continues more than a couple days, I’d have the professional make the diagnosis.

Diarrhea can occur for many reasons…from eating moldy, spoiled food to consuming milk products when she has a lactose intolerance, or something more serious.  In most cases, only a veterinary professional will know for sure.

Don’t take chances with your pet.  When in doubt, consult the expert.


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