Double vision-- double vomit
April 24, 2011 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Pukey kitties: when is it normal and when do we go to the vet?

We have two cats (female, about 2.5 years old) that started vomiting about 5-6 days ago. Before last week, we had maybe one or two pukes in the year and a half we had them. We aren't sure which cat is responsible for all of the puke, but we have seen both of them vomit today.

We have had 5 puddles of vomit since last Tuesday. The vomit is mostly undigested/partially digested dry food. The cats are acting normally otherwise-- still eating and drinking, litterbox looks normal. As I mentioned, both cats have vomited at least once.

We have read that cats will sometimes eat too quickly and puke up their dinner, and that we shouldn't worry if they are otherwise acting normally. BUT, our girls have never eaten too quickly before, and it seems odd that both would start vomiting at the same time. Is this normal enough that we should wait and see, or should we get them both to the vet? A vet visit will be difficult for work and travel reasons, but possible.

posted by ohio to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you changed their food?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:15 PM on April 24, 2011

I also should have asked, if you haven't changed their food, did the vomiting start after opening up a new bag of food?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:18 PM on April 24, 2011

We haven't changed their food, but yes, the vomiting started after we bought a new bag of the same brand of food. Just in case, we did buy a new bag of the kibble this afternoon and took away the bag we bought last week. We feed them a premium dry food mostly (which they generally graze on throughout the day) with about a tablespoonful of wet food in the evening.

We just fed them now and they ate several bites of the kibble before moving on to other pursuits.
posted by ohio at 8:20 PM on April 24, 2011

I feel like our cats vomit a few times a week. They either have eaten something they shouldn't have, or had eaten too much or whatnot. Maybe it will do them in eventually but they are around 7 years old now and have been doing this their whole life so I guess it isn't fatal quite immediately...
posted by haykinson at 8:26 PM on April 24, 2011

Did you apply tick or flea repellant to them recently?
posted by nicwolff at 8:37 PM on April 24, 2011

Personally, I would probably at least call my vet if I was concerned -- can you explain it over the phone and get the vet's take?

But one of my cats becomes super vomit-prone in the springtime because there are suddenly BIRDS everywhere, so every morning he bolts his breakfast, then RACES from window to window to window to see all the birds at all the windows, vomits, demands second breakfast, and repeats the whole scenario. This goes on for a week or two every spring until he calms down about the birds. We try to remember to put out 1/3 of his breakfast at a time, let him run around, do it again, etc., but we forget a lot since it's so early in the morning. :) So it could be something like that in the environment that is making them suddenly eat too fast!

Mine will also go months without puking and then one will puke twice a day for a couple/few days in a row for no apparent reason, then stop. If they're not displaying any other symptoms, I usually give it a few days before I worry.

My parents also had a cat that would puke for spite whenever she was pissed off, like if you moved furniture or went out of town overnight. Lots of options.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:06 PM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've had bad bags of dog food before (same brand, etc..) that just seemed off.
Are they indoor only cats? If so, I'd be less worried, change the food and keep an eye on them.

If they were indoor/outdoor I'd do all the same but maybe be more likely to take them to the vet if it continued.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:20 PM on April 24, 2011

One of mine pukes frequently but he always has and seems no worse for it. But something must have happened to your two to provoke the change. The bad-bag-of-kibble does sound possible. If they go outdoors, then it might be something else... outdoor cats can get into nasty stuff and get very sick.
posted by kevinsp8 at 9:22 PM on April 24, 2011

For most cats, puking constitutes a hobby. (Assuming it's not accompanied by any other symptoms like listlessness, and that they are otherwise eating and drinking normally, of course.)

This is shedding season - and therefore hairball season. A hairball is an impacted wad of hair that collects in the cat's stomach. Sometimes it interferes with digestion such that the food is barfed back up, in an attempt to vomit up the hairball.

Please note that vomiting in response to a hairball is well within normal operating parameters. Charming, no?

If your cats are indoor-only, get them a thing of cat grass. Or go to your grocery store's "fancy vegetables" section in the produce aisle and look for tubs of wheat grass, which are exactly the same thing at a fifth the cost.

Note: they will eat this and then throw it back up. Be prepared.

Brush your cats as much as they will let you. The more shed fur you take off them, the less they will swallow when they groom themselves.

The pet store sells tubes of fish-flavored petroleum jelly hairball medicine. My cats have usually loved this.

Hairball care cat food is also an option. I always buy it, even though it doesn't seem to do a damned bit of good.

And finally, I recommend Woolite Pet Stain & Odor Removal for carpet cleaning. Wow, that stuff is awesome!
posted by ErikaB at 9:32 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

But one of my cats becomes super vomit-prone in the springtime because there are suddenly BIRDS everywhere, so every morning he bolts his breakfast, then RACES from window to window to window to see all the birds at all the windows, vomits, demands second breakfast, and repeats the whole scenario. This goes on for a week or two every spring until he calms down about the birds.

I was going to suggest this. Did you just start opening windows for them, and they are getting super-excited about it?

Another thing to try is to give them smaller food portions more often, if they are suddenly eating too fast for some reason.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:59 PM on April 24, 2011

If the problem is that your kitties are eating too quickly, something heavy in their food dish or otherwise impeding their food access will make them eat a little more slowly (my cat has a free-feeder, and I've blocked off most of the opening except the very outsides so she has to poke the kibbles out with her paw). Also, I've found that if her feeder runs out for some reason, she's much more likely to get sick...if she notices her food is running low, she will not eat as much, and then as soon as she gets more food, she gorges on it. If your kitties are used to free-feeding but something new (are they ever separated from their food?) is stopping that, they could be binge-eating from stress.
posted by kro at 11:14 PM on April 24, 2011

I agree with ErikaB - one of my cats plugged herself up with fur at the start of hairball season every year. Petromalt was a big help. It softens the hair that's in the stomach allowing it to pass through and no longer blocks food.
posted by plinth at 3:11 AM on April 25, 2011

Yeah, food-bolting and hairballs. Ours have been on a vomit vest due to BIRD SEASON!! as above,and then it's a lot warmer all of a sudden, so there's a fair amount of hairball action too. If you don't have or don't want to buy petromalt, mine like regular vegetable oil or oily tuna, too.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:32 AM on April 25, 2011

Our cats will vomit with a new bag of food because, I imagine, the new bag of food is fresher than the old, and tastes better. They all love it on new bag day. The gobble it up, then promptly puke it out.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 5:45 AM on April 25, 2011

Cats not getting nutrition is a HUGE deal. It can lead to serious complications. Please go see a vet.
posted by TheBones at 6:17 AM on April 25, 2011

hepatic lipidosis can be fatal. Your cats may not have it yet, but you don't want to wait around until they do.

It could be a number of other things, either related or not, to hepatic lipidosis. Please go see a vet today.
posted by TheBones at 6:25 AM on April 25, 2011

I would say that this much vomiting warrants at least a call to the vet. It is significantly out of the ordinary for your cats, judging by your description.
posted by biscotti at 7:10 AM on April 25, 2011

We switched cat foods because the store was out of our brand, and she puked constantly for several days - we were hoping she'd adjust and get better, but she didn't. I went to the fancy schmancy natural boutique pet food store near our house and was told that (a) new food is corn-based (b) cats often don't digest corn well (c) most foods contain at least some corn, but not all are as high in corn as Science Diet is. The nice man gave us sample packets of 2 chicken-and-rice foods, which I fed her immediately, and she didn't puke at all. She's now back on original food which was a rice and barley blend, and we had to mix it in with the rice-only variety pretty slowly.

In short, it's possible the food changed composition, it's possible the new bag was tastier and they ate it too fast, it's possible they are just having an off week and a small amount of food unease is amplified by something else. In any case, look for a corn-free food as a possible easy-digestion option, maybe that'll help. Or maybe go to the vet.
posted by aimedwander at 7:16 AM on April 25, 2011

I haven't tried this, but someone told me that a good way to get them to eat slower is to put their food in a muffin tin, separating it evenly into the muffin cups. They're forced to at least pause between the cups.
posted by desjardins at 8:58 AM on April 25, 2011

If its dry food, it usually means they're eating too fast.

One reason for this can be dental problems, if it hurts to chew they'll swallow their food with less chewing. At least this was the basic explanation I got from my vet when my older cat was doing this.

Check their teeth, if there is any obvious bleeding/gum issues take them to the vet. If not you still might want to, but if you see it then it's pretty clear.

Wet food is often better in this scenario as well.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:34 PM on April 25, 2011

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