Vomiting and Weight Loss in Cats

Weight loss in cats is generally a symptom of an underlying or accompanying illness. Weight loss that occurs along with vomiting should be diagnosed promptly to avoid potentially life threatening situations. Although most cats vomit occasionally due to dietary intolerance and gastrointestinal infections, chronic vomiting that persists longer than 2 weeks is a strong indicator of health concerns. The most common causes of vomiting include inappropriate diet, ingestion of toxins, metabolic diseases and bacterial infections. Pet owners should notice any symptoms or signs that accompany vomiting and weight loss and seek medical help.

Symptoms that Accompany Vomiting Include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody stools
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Worm segments in feces
  • Constipation

Common Causes of Weight Loss and Vomiting Include:

  • Stomach tumors
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Parasite infections
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

Stomach Tumors

Cats are susceptible to various types of cancers such as lymphomas and sarcomas that develop in different organs of the body. Growths or masses that develop in the intestinal tract can cause severe weight loss and accompanying symptoms. Malignant growths present in the stomach have to be surgically removed to determine the type and severity of cancer involved.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The cause of feline IBD isn't established. However, certain cells in the cat's digestive tract become inflamed and cause severe vomiting in pets. Since the symptoms of IBD are similar to other diseases, it's important to obtain a definite diagnosis for feline IBD.

Parasite Infections

Parasites like heartworms, tapeworms and hookworms attach themselves to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and cause intestinal bleeding and vomiting. Although adulticides are used to kill adult worms, they may not be safe for use in cats. Routine fecal examinations are recommended at least twice a year to detect worm infections.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

This is a viral infection that weakens the cat's immune system and causes symptoms like vomiting or weight loss. Pets are also susceptible to secondary bacterial infections due to low immune system functioning. FIV cannot be cured with medication. However, with dietary modification and supportive care, the disease can be controlled.

Diagnosis of Vomiting and Weight Loss in Cats

In order to determine the underlying illness present, the vet will perform a thorough physical examination and palpate the abdomen to detect swelling, fluid accumulation or abdominal enlargement. The vet will also perform a series of other tests that include blood tests, urine analysis and fecal exams. In order to confirm stomach cancer, the vet will perform x-rays and ultrasounds. Tumors or masses present are subject to fine needle aspirate tests and biopsy.

Treatment of Vomiting and Weight Loss in Cats

Once the primary cause of vomiting or weight loss is determined, the vet will prescribe medication to treat minor stomach problems. Surgical intervention is necessary to treat stomach cancer or intestinal blockage. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy is also necessary to treat pets suffering from stomach cancer. Cats severely ill due to the underlying illness may require supportive care such as IV fluids, oxygen therapy and hospitalization. Pets suffering from FIV should be kept in a comfortable environment, free from stress.

Pet owners should avoid the use of over the counter drugs to treat vomiting that lasts longer than 2 days. It's best to conduct a vet check and administer medication suited to individual cat needs.