presentation is titled "The Tail of the Vomiting
Cat" and it comes to us courtesy of Marie.
takes care of Callie, an 8-year-old female calico cat
that she has known for all of the catís life. For the
past six months or so, Callie has been vomiting on a
somewhat regular basis, about two to three times per
week. Sometimes she finds hairballs in the vomit but
other times there is food and/or liquid.
seems happy and healthy otherwise and Marie is wondering
if she should be concerned. She has been told in the
past that it is normal for cats to vomit on occasion.
She has changed nothing in Callieís diet or her
at the start, I want to clear up something I hear too
often: It is not normal for cats to vomit. Vomiting
causes loss of important fluids from the stomach that
contains electrolytes, which are necessary for normal
body function. Loss of these fluids can be detrimental.
said this, I do realize that vomiting is common in cats
and I think this commonality, if you will, leads to the
notion that occasional vomiting is normal.
is not, by itself, a disease. It is a symptom. It is the
result of irritation to the stomach and/or small
intestine or less commonly a problem in the area of the
brain dealing with balance. So the first assumption that
needs to be made when Callie vomits is that there could
be an underlying cause.
address the hairball scenario first. It is entirely
normal for a healthy feline to have hair in the
digestive tract. It is there because grooming using
their tongue carries hair into their mouths, which is
then swallowed. Normally this hair is passed down the
digestive tract and out in the stool.
a cat vomits, there are often wads of hair in the vomit
but it is not a cause-and-effect situation. The hair did
not cause the vomiting.
are cases of excess grooming when too much hair gets
into the stomach and can cause partial obstruction,
which leads to vomiting. But even in these situations,
it is not the hair that is the ultimate cause of the
vomiting, it is the overgrooming. These cats usually
have a flea problem.
Callieís case, vomiting is likely a symptom of an
underlying disease. The list of diseases that can cause
vomiting in cats is long. Anything that might upset the
digestive tract can lead to vomiting. The fact that
Callie began her regular vomiting six months ago tells
us something is amiss.
would recommend radiographs of Callieís abdomen to
help visualize what Callieís stomach and small
intestine look like. I would suggest blood testing to
determine how things might be working inside. There are
parasite problems that can cause vomiting in cats, so it
would be pertinent to check a stool sample.
initial diagnostic steps can be very revealing and at
times provide a definitive diagnosis. However, there are
cases in which these tests can be normal, requiring
further steps. This might include biopsy of the stomach
wall or small intestine, as cats are known to commonly
be affected by inflammatory bowel disease, which often
causes vomiting and is definitively diagnosed by biopsy.
the case, this vomiting problem of Callieís is indeed
a symptom of an underlying disease process that needs to
be diagnosed to allow a treatment that cures the disease
and in turn stops the vomiting.