When you have a pet cat vomiting and diarrhea become an unfortunate constant in your life. They might be symptoms of serious illness, they might be a way to clear hairballs, or a simple consequence of a curious foraging expedition! If you’re going to be an owner who can take care of your cat – and also knows when to relax – you need to be able to identify why your cat is throwing up. If you know why, you know when it’s serious, when it’s not and how to stop it happening as often!
One of the most common reasons for a cat to throw up is that they need to expel a hairball. While it’s a nasty surprise to find in your home, and no fun to clean up, it’s not hazardous to your cat’s health – in fact, it’s beneficial as hairballs lingering in the stomach and digestive tract can cause discomfort and disease!
If your cat produces more than its fair share of hairballs, it’s worth looking at how to reduce the number they (and you!) have to deal with. Hairballs are caused by grooming – when a cat licks itself, loose hairs can be pulled out by the tongue. Most of these pass harmlessly through the body, but some don’t, and accumulate into a ball in the stomach, which is vomited up. You can help reduce the frequency of hairballs by grooming or combing your cat regularly, helping to remove the loose hairs that form hairballs.
There are plenty of reasons for your cat to experience an upset stomach – infections and bugs, hunting and scavenging food that hosts parasites or is simply decayed.
In most cases, your cat won’t experience symptoms for long – just long enough to help remove the contamination from their body! You can help by putting your cat on a reduced diet of bland food to see if they can hold it down. Small portions of boiled rice and chicken or white fish 6-8 times a day will keep your cat fed while their gut recovers. The most important thing you can do is make sure they have constant access to fresh, clean water: cats can become dehydrated very quickly and that can become a more serious problem!
When to Worry
The most important thing about being a cat owner is knowing when to make a trip to the vet. In cases of vomiting and diarrhea there are some easy ways to identify the warning signs: blood in the stool or vomit is an immediate reason for concern. Longer term things to be aware of are the symptoms not clearing up within 72 hours, or extended bouts of retching without vomit being produced: this could be a sign of life threatening blocked hairball!