Ask the Veterinarian/Vomiting Cat


QUESTION: I'm the mother of three cats, two boys (Pippy, 4 and Stuart, 6) and an 8 year old short hair domestic female (Lilu).  Lilu has been having some sort of gastro issue since Jan 2006.  Within the last 6 months, she has been throwing up almost daily).  The vomit is not always undigested food and she is not a rapid eater.  It is brownish in color, very liquid, does not smell of feces, and sometimes has hair in it.  She was diagnosed with Acute Gastritis and treated with Enteric and Prochlorperazine injection in Jan 2006.  She vomits in the middle of the night, early morning, doesn't matter. Sometimes I can hear her starting to and chase her around to catch it and other times it greets me when I get up.  I had been feeding them all a "mixture" of Purina brands and ceased that action as I tried to determine if it was the food.  I've tried the Purina One Sensitive Systems to no avail. She was doing ok on Purina One Beyond, but we're back to throwing up.  Dry food servings are 1/4 cup 3x's per day, but I'm reading now that is too much.  They also get a morning tblsp of canned food daily (Friskies, Meow Mix, Fancy Feast, Whiskas are the brands I've used).  I've stopped the evening treats (both soft and hard). I have a cat fountain and a constantly dripping tub faucet as they like to drink from there. And I am using the hairball ointment as instructed.  I recently purchased Organix dry cat food, by Castor and Pollux,  as it doesn't seem to have all the "bad stuff".

I know pets can feel stress too and this has been a stressful year beginning with the loss of my mother in Jan (which meant many visitors to the house to include other feline family membes), travelling (6 months in Chicago with me and then 2 months with my daughter and her 2 cats in VA w/o me).  We just returned home earlier this month, but the vomiting continues.  I'm due to go on a week long cruise and was thinking of boarding them so they could at least watch and treat Lilu, or leaving them at home (they will be checked on daily) to lessen the stress of me being gone again.  Either way, they will be stressed. I'm truly concerned about this persistent vomiting and at my wits end about how to treat it other than more injections that seem to only work temporarily.  Then I'm wondering if her infiltrative condition may be causing the problem.  I've searched the net for homeopathic remedies but am unsure how to proceed or if I should try any of the suggestions.  Do you recommend Organix and how much should I be feeding her?  Should they only be on wet food? Please help me help her (and the boys) before I do more damage.

History of Lilu's veterinary treatment:
-May 2006, Myringotomy (Baytril inj, Buprenex)
-Aug 06, unsure of diagnosis (Clavamox, NystatinOintment, Depo-Medrol inj)
-Jan 2007, Negative fecal exam although Stuart tested positive and was treated for intestinal worm issues (Panacur Suspension)
-5 Oct 07, Oti-Clens for ear (worst vet on the face of the earth)
-6 Oct 07, Emergency room visit due to worst vet on earth (couldn't walk straight or stand, uncontrollable side-to-side eye movement), given IM injection
-8 Oct 07, Ear cytology positive for Rod & Cocci bacteria for both cats (Baytril Otic)
-Jul 2008, acne (Muricin ointment)
-Jan 2009, Upper Respiratory Infection (Antitussive inj, Clavamox)
-Apr 09, URI (Antitussive inj, Clavamox)
-Jul 2011, Return for persistent vomiting (Antimetic)
-26 Dec 11, (Antitussive inj, Amoxicillin?)
-30 Dec 11, Anesthesia to check throat, Antitussive inj, 1 can Fel I/D to be given 1 tsp at 6 and 9 pm, plenty of water, and told to stop giving Amoxicillin
-Feb 2012, biopsy of mass, determined benign
-Mar 12, Per consult with specialist, diagnosis Infiltrative Lipoma, under watch
-23 Aug 12, Daily vomiting again in daughter's care (Cerenia inj)
-30 Aug 12, Continued vomiting (Cerenia inj)
-Nov 12, Negative intestinal parasite test of fecal sample provided, (Laxatone)

ANSWER: This gets pretty confusing so I am going to try and narrow this down to a manageable chunks.
Basically so what we have is one cat that has some sort of undiagnosed gastro-intestinal problems.

It sounds like your vet hasn't done any true diagnostic testing for some of the more common ailments that can affect the digestive system.

While you didn't mention any kind of stool issues, but it's very possible that she could have chronic gastritis, or even IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) which can still make them vomit.

Dark colored vomit can be a combination of lower stomach contents or even small intestinal contents. It can also contain blood. Normal vomit is clear and foamy or may have some yellow bile in it.

Chronic vomiting can also be food related. Trying different foods can help BUT if you only use store brand foods you are still bombarding her with the garbage that store brands contain. That means irritating chemicals, dyes, fillers, low-quality proteins and even lower quality grains or vegetables.

Purina, Meow Mix, ALL store brands are the same in this way. They all buy foods off of the docks for their food production and they are all buying questionable foods from China.
They have open-formula foods, meaning they add in whatever they want and what was cheap that day on the docks.

If this was my cat- I would put her on a Prescription Diet such as I/D or even W/D from Hills. These can only be purchased from the vets office. The reason these foods will help her is because they are a pure fixed-formulation which means that they are the same batch after batch and always the same ingredients from only sources here in the USA. These foods will help her by settling down her irritated gut. They are formulated just for these problems and are made with very few ingredients which helps narrow down the ones that can cause irritation and allergies.

Since nothing else has really helped her and you haven't really done an elimination diet with her, I would start with that. The I/D is especially good for this because it is for intestinal problems.

The cerneia she has been having is only working on symptoms, not the cause. If doing an elimination diet doesn't stop the vomiting, then I would have a ultra sound to have her esophagus looked at. Cats can develop mega-esophagus which will cause vomiting. That is when there is a pocket or a widening of the esophagus which makes it hard to get food down to the gut correctly.

As far as boarding vs. keeping them at home, this is something you need to decide yourself. If her vomiting isn't life-threatening then keeping them at home is less stressful unless a stranger is checking in on them. That can be stressful too!

1/4 of food 3 x a day is not too much for three cats but usually it's only 1/2 per cat per day that they should be eating.

Since I only feed Science Diet I put about a 1/2 a day down for my cat and that is all she needs for 24 hours.

I don't know much about Organix but I don't need to. If it is something you can buy from a pet store or grocery store then it is probably made with the same open-formulation which means that it is not really what meets the eye. If it isn't Science or Prescription Diet then it's not a fixed-formula food.

So stop all of the store bought food and get her on some Prescription diet for a month or two and see if that stops the vomiting. If it does, then you know that she is reacting to the dyes etc in the foods. If it makes no difference, then she needs to be scoped to see what is going on inside of her.

I hope you find an answer soon. Please let me know what you do find out.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I've decided to board them at the vet so they can monitor her vomiting as it seems to be increasing in frequency and volume. Perhaps they can run a test on a sample. And they can all have their annual checkups.

I am perplexed with your recommendation of Science Diet as in a previous response to another question, you didn't speak highly of its quality.  I do see where you recommend Nature's Variety and Wellness and I see I can purchase them online. It's also been suggested that I try a rabbit based diet. I'm going to run all this through the vet. Thank you for your wisdom.

Hi de'Borah,
That wasn't me that was recommending Wellness or Nature's Variety. I have only recommended and fed Science Diet for over 30 yrs. They have a type called Natures Choice but they are changing that soon. They are also removing most of the corn from their formulas.
I have studied Science Diet and other brands for years and that is one of the reasons I do recommend it. I have personally seen amazing transformations in pets just from eating their foods. My own pets have lived longer than average lives and almost completely illness free for so many years thanks to Science Diet. All of my pets have died from old age but were never sick during their lives. Not one!  

I don't know what they would test a sample of vomit for. She is the one that needs testing, not her vomit! I do hope that they can get at least an ultrasound of her gut or do a contrast xray series.

And please be sure to ask the vet about the I/D or W/D for her. Have fun on your cruise!

Just wanted to give you an article on chronic vomiting in cats to read that might help:  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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