Cat vomiting and diarrhea are unfortunate but common aspects of pet ownership. Cats are susceptible to a large range of stomach upsets, which can often result in your cat vomiting, having diarrhea, or both.
Any time your cat experiences a bout of vomiting or diarrhea is a cause for concern, but it is necessary to figure out the underlying reason. This way, you can change or eliminate the causative factors. Since chronic vomiting and diarrhea (defined as occurring more than two or three times a week on a regular basis) can be a sign of underlying health problems or a serious illness, it is imperative to treat vomiting and diarrhea early.
What Causes Cat Vomiting and Diarrhea?
Often, cat diarrhea and vomiting are linked to a diet change, increased stress, or another environmental factor. It is when diarrhea and vomiting occur without any obvious cause that finding a treatment becomes frustrating.
All types of pets can have sensitive stomachs, but cats are especially susceptible to food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances. These can manifest themselves in the form of vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat begins having increased episodes of vomiting or diarrhea following a diet change, it may be that she is not able to tolerate one of the ingredients in the new food. Often, switching back to the previous food will solve this problem. If it does not, it may be necessary to put your cat on a personalized or home-prepared diet to determine what ingredients she is sensitive to.
Despite their owners’ best efforts to find a food that does not cause problems, some cats do not tolerate any commercially-prepared cat foods. Such cats often develop chronic diarrhea and vomiting, which can leave them unable to absorb nutrients from their food properly, causing low energy levels and a poor coat. In addition, chronic diarrhea in cats positively correlates with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — a condition where the lining of the intestine becomes inflamed and irritated. As well as causing continual discomfort for the cat, untreated IBD will often develop into lymphoma, a type of cancer.
What Not To Do
In the past, the solution to cat vomiting and diarrhea was medication (usually antibiotics) and fasting. However, recent studies have found that in many cases antibiotics are not only unnecessary, their overuse leads to antibiotic resistance problems. Using antibiotics unnecessarily can cause the medication to fail when it is necessary. In addition, antibiotics often damage the good bacteria in the gut. This leaves your pet susceptible to other opportunistic diseases and bacteria and can even result in a more serious case of vomiting or diarrhea, sometimes necessitating hospitalization. It’s hard to see how treating vomiting and diarrhea with a medication that causes more vomiting and diarrhea could be considered treatment!
Whereas fasting has long been the recommended treatment for intestinal upset in pets, even a short fast of 12 hours can cause a life-threatening liver problem called hepatic lipidosis in cats. For this reason, although fasting can be effective in giving the GI tract a “break” from an intestinal upset, fasting cats for intestinal upset is a potentially dangerous treatment.
What To Do
Thankfully, you can avoid the traditional methods of antibiotics and fasting by giving your cat a soil-based probiotic. This has been shown to be effective in 97 percent of cat gastro-intestinal upsets.
If your cat is experiencing chronic diarrhea and vomiting, a visit to your veterinarian is still necessary to rule out other potential causes, such as disease (feline panleukopenia), organ problems (kidney failure and hyperthyroidism), and parasites (Giardia and clostridium overgrowth).
Although it is often possible to treat vomiting and diarrhea in cats at home with our unique blend of remedies, there are times when vomiting and diarrhea can be a sign of a medical emergency. These situations require a visit to your veterinarian.
For instance, if vomiting or diarrhea occurs suddenly and repeatedly in a short period of time, a more sinister cause than stomach upset may be to blame. Acute, repeated vomiting in cats can be a sign of acute renal failure. Sudden failure of kidney function can affect almost every body system of the cat and it can be due to a kidney infection, toxin ingestion (poison or toxic chemical exposure), or kidney obstruction. Affected cats may experience sudden, acute vomiting, lethargy, weakness, and disorientation. This is a severe medical emergency.
As cats can develop serious liver problems if they refuse to eat or are fasted for any amount of time, refusal to eat accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting is also a cause for concern. Observe your cat for other symptoms of illness (lethargy, increased or decreased thirst or urination, hiding, and increased vocalization). These can all be signs of a more serious illness.