Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats

Vomiting and diarrhea in cats

Mild and occasional upsets in the digestive systems of cats are not uncommon. There’s a wide variety of conditions that can cause problems. If symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea don’t clear up quickly then you should immediately seek advice from your vet.

You should always keep an eye on your cat for signs of digestive problems. Read on to find out what might cause your cat to vomit or experience diarrhea and for the most appropriate treatments.

Common Causes of Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats

Vomiting does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with your cat’s health. 

Your cat may, for example, be bringing up fur balls that have built up from an accumulation of hair in the stomach from grooming. Hairs become entwined together, irritate the stomach lining, and cause your cat to regurgitate them.

Other common reasons for a cat to vomit are: 

  • A mild stomach upset known as Gastritis
  • Worms
  • Travel sickness
  • A change in diet or eating food too quickly

If your cat otherwise seems bright and is not losing weight then there is probably nothing to worry about. Mild cases of diarrhea have similar causes but might also be due to gut parasites like:

  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium 
  • Tritrichomonas 

If their diarrhea persists for more than 24 hours and if your cat appears unwell or has other symptoms too, you should contact your vet.

Common Behaviors When Cats Experience Diarrhea and Vomiting

When cats feel sick, they can display the following types of behavior:

  • Licking their lips and swallowing more often than they normally do
  • Drooling unusually
  • Eating grass for extra vitamins and/or to help with vomiting
  • Disinterest in eating

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You may be unable to monitor your cat’s behavior at all times when they are outdoors. These are some of the more subtle signs that they may be experiencing or have experienced diarrhea:

  • A need to go outdoors more often than usual
  • A dirty, smelly, or occasionally painful bottom
  • Gurgling sounds coming from the stomach 
  • Passing wind more often than would be normal
  • A bloating of the stomach 
  • Excessive cleaning of the area near to their bottom
  • Extreme tiredness and lethargy
  • Having a coat that doesn’t look in its normally good condition

When Vomiting and Diarrhea Becomes More Serious

It’s not always easy to monitor your cat’s toiletry habits if they’re used to going outdoors. However, there are some conditions that can be serious. Often, the symptoms are bouts of vomiting and diarrhea at the same time along with other signs they are not feeling well.

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Less common causes of vomiting and diarrhea include:

  • Liver or kidney disease
  • A gut blockage
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 
  • Reactions to poisons or toxins

Your cat might also have a gut infection like Salmonella. A food allergy or an adverse reaction to medication could also lie at the root of the problem.

Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, or an overactive thyroid gland could also be the cause. Certain cancers and diabetes might also be to blame.

Seeking Advice from Your Vet

You must contact your vet for advice if your cat vomits more than once, appears unwell, or has any other symptoms like diarrhea. You also seek help if your cat is unable to keep any food or water down, is either very young or old or in these instances:

  • Your cat appears to be very low in energy and lethargic
  • You know your cat’s eaten something they shouldn’t have
  • The gums of your cat are very pale
  • Your cat’s abdomen is painful to touch
  • There is blood or black dots in your cat’s vomit
  • There is mucus and/or blood in their diarrhea or excrement

Your vet may want to carry out further investigations to establish what lies behind their digestive problems. 

It would be unusual for a cat with diarrhea to need antibiotics. In fact, sometimes they can make diarrhea worse by destroying the friendly bacteria found in the gut. Your vet might instead recommend other treatments like probiotics or a product that soothes the bowel such as ‘kaolin.’

Treating Your Cat at Home

Your cat may have only vomited once, may not be experiencing diarrhea as well, and might otherwise appear fit and healthy. If so, make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water available. 

If your cat has mild diarrhea and otherwise appears to be fine with no other symptoms, try settling them at home. You could then book an appointment to see your vet if your cat gets worse, doesn’t improve, or refuses to eat after around 24 hours.

Try feeding them small, frequent meals with bland ingredients such as boiled chicken or white fish. Your vet might also sell or recommend a packaged food specially designed for upset stomachs. Avoid feeding your cat rich or fatty foods.

When cats experience diarrhea, they can quickly become dehydrated. Encourage them to drink during the day and always ensure they have access to plenty of plain water to drink. 

Your cat may also feel less energetic and need more sleep than usual. Let them recover and rest. Once your cat’s excrement is solid again, you can slowly begin to reintroduce them to their regular diet over a few days.

Keeping Your Cat Healthy

If you’ve never looked after or had a cat before then watching them vomit can be a little distressing. The important thing is to monitor the frequency of this type of behavior or to look out for other symptoms, especially diarrhea.

If your cat experiences bouts of either vomiting or diarrhea over a period of more than 24 hours, then you must contact your vet. The same applies if they both vomit and have diarrhea during any period of time or if they display other symptoms of being unwell.

Do you still have any questions about your cat? Then schedule a video consultation with one of our qualified vets! We are also able to offer straightforward, hassle-free, pet insurance for your cat for when they get ill. 

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