No more Mr. Kitty Creosote! But why?
March 15, 2008 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Why have my cats STOPPED puking? Gross cat vomit related details inside.

In mid February I adopted two cats from a local shelter. The shelter is about as posh as a cat shelter could be, so the cats had all their shots and tests, and each came with a fairly complete medical history. They also came with two big bags of Science Diet, which is what they were fed in the shelter.

They adjusted well, except for the fact that they puked - a lot. Luna is a 1 year old long haired coon cat female, and she made the classic hairball noises when throwing up, though didn't produce much vomit.

Tex is a big 5 year old boy. He was more of what I called a "stealth puker." It pretty much came out of nowhere, with no warning whatsoever. And it was large quantities of mostly undigested food.

They both also liked to nibble on plants and sometimes I would find part of a leaf in the vomit.

There were about 5 incidences a day and I was just getting ready to call the vet, when they ran out of Science Diet. I bought an emergency bag of 9 Lives at the local store, and now the vomiting has stopped completely. And from what I can tell, they're no longer interested in the plants.

I really would like to give these cats good food, and I have heard horror stories about the cheaper brands. But I'm wondering what it is about Science Diet that made them so sick. And why the low-end stuff doesn't seem to bother them at all? And whether the fact that they don't vomit up 9 Lives offsets the fact that I'm feeding them food that is not very good for them.
posted by suki to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just a thought. Perhaps they enjoyed the Science Diet so much that they gobbled it quickly, and thus puked it up ... but with the Nine Lives, they like it less, so don't gobble quite so quick.

I base this on the fact that if my cat rushes his eating (which he occasionally does), he too blehs it up ...
posted by WCityMike at 9:55 AM on March 15, 2008

Well, Science Diet isn't a good food any more than 9Lives is (both are full of corn and by-products). If the puking was from the food, it's more likely to be a specific ingredient/texture/something rather than the quality of the food, since neither food is really all that good. Maybe try a different, better food - I'm sure there is something which is actually a good food (Wellness, Felidae, EVO, etc.) which also doesn't make them vomit.
posted by biscotti at 10:26 AM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll second WCityMike's thought. My cat vomited large amounts of undigested food when he gobbled his food down. So perhaps he does like the 9 Lives less. Or maybe he's feeling more comfortable in your home and doesn't feel the need to gobble.
posted by christinetheslp at 10:31 AM on March 15, 2008

Just because you switched kibble and they're not puking anymore doesn't necessarily mean that whatever they had is gone. Could be the bug is just going dormant till another flare up. Please find out about going raw food with them. This is just one site - there are thousands others who say pretty much the same thing. You want good cat health? It all starts from what you feed and you won't get the nutrients from kibble. No how, no way.

Also please check out this group to get more information and share what's going on in your kitties' lives and to find the best possibly remedy. Best wishes for good health.
posted by watercarrier at 10:32 AM on March 15, 2008

Please find out about going raw food with them.

Whoa, whoa, be careful before taking advice like this. Animals have specific dietary requirements that aren't easily met by just feeding them stuff on your own. Moving to high-quality cat food is a good idea, but moving to a diet you prepare yourself is a very different thing. This report done after the pet-food recall (and linked to from this article) mentions the risk of salmonella from raw food. This site mentioned in the report will help you create a diet for your pet - but it costs money (which I guess is a sign that it's serious).
posted by Dasein at 1:19 PM on March 15, 2008

It's hairball season right now. Here in Seattle I always expect an onslaught of cat upchuck as soon as the cherry trees start blooming. If your cats are keeping some food down, drinking water and acting otherwise healthy, I'd chalk it up to the new food working better with their digestion than the old one did. The right diet can help fur pass through before it becomes all clumped in the stomach and has to come out the front end.

One of my cats used to be a champion barfer when I fed him only midgrade dry food. I switched to a combo of high quality dry and wet food and he barfs a lot less now. It's directly related to the diet, because on a couple of occasions I've fed my kitties a bag of emergency Friskies and the barfer resumed his barfing ways until the bag was done.

I recommend giving them food made from human-grade ingredients that contains more protein than grain. Precise and Wellness are two brands that my brood like a lot. As a couple of other people have noted, Science Diet is actually not that great as cat foods go (and if my cats are any judge of taste, it's not very yummy either).
posted by rhiannon at 1:47 PM on March 15, 2008

at my local hippie pet food store, the owner told me that a lot of kitty stomach ailments is actually linked to their litter. the typical clay litter is apparently terrible, because the dust gets into their lungs and digestive systems and then expands and hardens. google around and you'll read more about it. this doesn't answer your question really, but it's another aspect of catpuke culture i never thought about previously. now i've got mine on the corn litter ("world's best cat litter") and wellness food. the puking has lessened but not gone away. but i feel better about not potentially giving her stomach cancer from the silica litter.
posted by apostrophe at 2:20 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just transitioned my cat from Science Diet (mostly dry, a little bit of canned) to Wellness (canned only). She used to binge on the Science Diet dry, then puke it up (hardly even chewed). She hasn't puked at all on Wellness, and is eating less grass.

We switched because at her last vet visit she was 16.6 pounds, and while she is a genuinely large-framed cat, she's gone from 'overweight' to 'obese'. The vet recommended prescription food, and even said that the Science Diet prescription food was fine. But I did a lot of reading and decided that the grain and fillers weren't doing her any good. I got a lot of info from this site: Feeding Your Cat: Knowing the Basics of Feline Nutrition.

I don't pay that much more for Wellness than I did for Science Diet. My cat has a lot more energy - even after only one week.
posted by candyland at 4:32 PM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Our cat, age 7 years old, mixed breed was nearly dead from vomiting, which began when she was about 3 years old. For last 4 years we've fed her a raw food diet that we prepare monthly into patties & freeze (labor intensive & a bit expensive). It's recommended by our homeopathic vet (nope he doesn't sell it to us-- he was a 'regular' vet for a decade and then switched to homeopathy) Anyway, Also, bought a cheap table top fountain from Linens N Things and this encourages her to drink more WATER. AND, we comb her out more often. She is a short haired cat, but under that short hair is something like goose down. Because of earlier comments I'm going to look into changing her cat litter, though she is so much better now than she was--& her coat is beautiful. And she just goes around smiling. Good luck with your kitty.
posted by Prajna at 7:10 PM on April 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

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