How to support and care for a vomiting cat

Posted by Nurse Whiskers. November 8th 2013.

Many cat owners will see their pet vomit from time to time especially as cats seem to vomit more than other species.

In some cases the causes of vomiting can be severe such as foreign bodies, organ failure and cancer. However, in many of these vomiting cases the cause of the vomiting is not usually as serious and many cats will vomit without even seeming to be unduly distressed.

The good news is that if your cat is still fairly bright, alert and not vomiting too much, then a full recovery can be made at home with simple management and without the need for medical intervention.

nurse and cat

If you feel the vomiting is not serious then follow these tips below to make your cat more comfortable at home:

Step One – Dietary rest

Your cat should be starved (i.e. given only water and no food, snacks etc.) for 24 hours to allow the stomach to rest.

During this time your cat should be offered plain water in small amounts every 30 minutes, to prevent dehydration. Your cat must only be allowed “sips” of water.

Do not be tempted to offer your cat milk to drink as milk is a food, not a drink and up to 10% of cats can suffer from an allergy to cow’s milk.

Young or small kittens should never be starved for more than 6 hours.

Step Two – High digestibility diet

After a period of starvation, it is best if the cat’s usual food is temporarily replaced with a home-cooked diet.

A bland protein diet should be fed; this could include chicken and white fish. There is no necessity to include carbohydrates, as cats will make best use of protein alone. These meals should be small and fed frequently, starting with 5-6 times daily.

If after 2-3 days of feeding this diet if the vomiting has resolved then your cat’s normal diet can slowly be reintroduced over the following week alongside the temporary diet.

Tips on dealing with cat sickness at home

•    Be strict and stick to the restricted diet in Step 2.

•    Do not let your cat outside for the restriction period. Furthermore be careful not to allow your cat to eat the food of any other household pets.

•    Whilst confined indoors supply your cat with a litter tray. If not used to a litter tray then filling it with garden earth can encourage its use.

•    Take your time reintroducing your cat’s normal diet. Rushing this stage is a common cause of the problem flaring up.

•    After an episode of vomiting it can take a few days for normal bowel movements to be restored.

•    Ensure there are no toxins in the household which could be the cause of the vomiting, for example lilies are very toxic to cats. If you are in any doubt, ask.

•    If you suspect that your cat is vomiting due to hairballs, then consider taking preventative measures e.g. proprietary hairball control diets, grooming your pet daily and using feed supplements to aid the passage of the hairball.

•    If you have more than one cat it may be easier to feed all your cats the same food for the duration of the problem.

•    Ensure your cat is wormed regularly with a good quality veterinary worming product.

•    Cats can jump and gain access to benches when not monitored so ensure no tempting foodstuffs are left on kitchen counters.

Please note: Veterinary advice should be sought if your cat’s condition deteriorates or does not improve.

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