Introduction:Vomiting is very common in cats and is one of the classic symptoms of digestive system problems. Digestive tract trouble is not the only cause of vomiting, however. Many disorders of the endocrine system, urinary tract, nervous system, reproductive tract, and the bodyís metabolism can also lead to a vomiting problem. Many cats vomit occasionally with no adverse effects; however, uncontrollable vomiting can become an emergency situation and must be carefully assessed. Types of vomiting that may be serious are discussed below.
Causative Agents: Some of the more common causes of vomiting include ingestion of grass, hair or other substances that are indigestible and irritating to the stomach, overeating (especially if immediately followed by heavy exercise), and motion sickness. Infectious parasites, viruses, bacteria, and some problems with the internal organs of the body may also cause a cat to vomit.
Certain drugs and toxic substances will cause vomiting if ingested. These include the following:
Antifreeze (Ethylene glycol)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -aspirin and ibuprofen
If a cat has ingested any type of poisonous substance, contact a veterinarian immediately. Inducing the cat to vomit the poisonous substance may save its life. However, it is important to note that some poisonous substances are more harmful if the animal vomits them. Never force a pet to vomit if it has consumed an acidic or alkalotic cleaning solution, a petroleum product, or it is severely lethargic or comatose.
The following can be given at home to induce vomiting in a pet:
Clinical Signs: Vomiting refers to the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth. Vomit may contain: food in various stages of digestion, bile (a brown, green, or yellow-colored, rather sticky liquid), blood, or any combination of these three. Types of vomiting that may indicate a more serious problem and would certainly warrant professional assistance include the following:
Diagnosis: Diagnosing the cause of vomiting may or may not be easy, depending on the state of the animal when presented to the veterinarian. Coupled with a physical examination, a thorough history on the cat is essential in determining the cause of vomiting. The doctor may elect to approach the situation conservatively with a temporary restriction in food and water intake. Diagnostic testing such as radiographs and bloodwork may be advised in other cases. More invasive diagnostics such as endoscopy (a camera on the end of a fiber-optic tube placed inside the animalís digestive tract), contrast-enhanced radiography (dye placed inside the animalís digestive tract and the progress of the dye is followed with the help of radiographs), fluoroscopy (a moving radiograph), or surgery may be necessary if the diagnosis is especially difficult to make. See Section D for additional information on many of these tests.
Treatment: Specific treatments for vomiting are based on the exact cause. Treatment of the primary cause is necessary to stop the vomiting and may include dietary changes, counter-acting poison or drug intoxication, insulin therapy, antibiotic therapy, electrolyte replacement, deworming, anti-inflammatory therapy, fluid therapy, and/or surgery. Supportive care to correct the adverse effects of vomiting include fluid therapy, anti-emetic therapy (specific drugs which stop vomiting), electrolyte replacement, and proper nourishment.