Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Chronic vomiting in cats is usually a symptom of an underlying issue. Unless the primary problem is diagnosed and treated, the vomiting will likely never be resolved.

Understanding Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Vomiting is considered chronic when it occurs persistently for at least two weeks. The vomit usually contains material from the stomach, but sometimes includes substances from the duodenum of the small intestine. If left untreated, chronic vomiting can result in the decreased absorption of nutrients in the cat, leading to dehydration and weight loss. Diarrhea, along with lethargy, weight loss, decreased appetite and increased thirst can also accompany the chronic vomiting.

Causes of Chronic Vomiting

There are many possible causes for frequent cat vomiting. Some cats are allergic to certain components in their diets, which will cause this type of response. If your cat likes to eat things she shouldn’t ingest, such as string or plastic, this can also cause chronic vomiting. Bacteria, fungi, parasites, infectious agents, drugs and toxins can all be reasons why a cat would need to vomit. If there is a blockage in your cat’s stomach or intestines or if she has certain types of cancer, vomiting can be associated with these problems. In addition, disorders of the liver, kidneys and pancreas can lead to chronic vomiting, as well as inflammatory bowel disease and other intestinal disorders.  

Diagnosing the Cause

Your veterinarian will rely on you to provide her with accurate details regarding your cat. Without this information, diagnosing and treating the chronic vomiting may be more difficult. Your cat will receive an exam from the doctor, which will include a palpation of the abdomen. Oftentimes, the doctor can feel large tumors, changes in the sizes of the kidneys and inflamed intestine just by feeling your cat’s stomach. In addition, blood work may also be performed to check the values of your cat’s organs and to look for signs of infection or anemia. Fecal tests will likely be run to rule out parasites, along with a urinalysis. The doctor may also want to take radiographs of the abdomen to check for tumors or other obvious problems.

Treating Chronic Vomiting

Treatment of chronic vomiting in cats depends on the cause for the vomiting. Initially, your veterinarian will likely prescribe symptomatic treatment until the primary reason for the vomiting is determined. The doctor may recommend to withhold food and water from the cat and may give medication to keep the cat from vomiting. If the cat is dehydrated, she may also administer fluid therapy.

If the issue is a food intolerance, switching to a diet your cat can digest properly is most likely the answer. Parasites, fungus and bacteria can usually be cleared with medications, along with certain infections. Stomach and intestinal blockages may require surgery to remove the foreign body, while some cancers can be surgically removed as well. If it is diabetes or hyperthyroidism that is causing the chronic vomiting, medication can usually resolve the problem. Additionally, inflammatory bowel disease and other maldigestion or malabsorption conditions may be helped with medication and diet.