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Ask the Veterinarian/Cat throwing up


Our 5 year old part Main-Coon part mixed breed cat throws up an awful lot, maybe every other time she eats. She's got very long hair.  Occasionally she'll puke up something that looks like hair, sometimes in the shape of the esophagus (or so we think, cylindrical anyhow).  Usually it's just she pukes up undigested food with liquid (presumably stomach juices). We think it's probably hairballs and tried to give her vaseline but she'll have no part of it. Is there a particular food we should use or is there something you can recommend? She's been doing t his for years, though it seems a bit worse lately. We love her but don't want to spend a thousand dollars plus on testing as recommended by the local veterinarian.

Well part of what could be causing her to vomit is what she eats. Since you didn't tell me what she eats I cannot know if that's part of the problem or not.

Long haired cats do vomit up a lot of hair, that's pretty par for them. The tube shaped vomit is almost always hair balls.

However, some foods are very irritating to cats because they are made with poor ingredients and are never the same from batch to batch. Most grocery store foods fall into this category such as Meow Mix, Friskies, etc.

If that is the case, she needs to be switched to a better, higher quality food. High quality foods, such as Science Diet, are made the same from batch to batch-this is called "fixed-formulation." This assures you that your pets food is consistent, as a change in food from bag to bag can cause digestive upsets, especially in dogs.

But cats too, are prone to digestive upsets and one condition cats can get is a low grade, chronic gastritis or worse, pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be fatal, so if your vet suggests a test (usually a blood panel) to determine how her liver and pancreatic enzymes are doing, it would really be prudent of you to have that done. Caught early this condition can be treated and turned around.

Vomiting is not normal for cats- even if millions of them do it on a regular basis. Some cats benefit from other options, such as elevating the food bowl for those cats that eat too fast.

Regurgitation is very common in cats but it's quite different than vomiting. Cats will regurgitate their food when they eat too fast. It hits a spot in the throat and comes right back up. Sometimes it comes up about 5 minutes later but it's still regurge.

A cat that vomits like yours does really needs to have a small blood panel done to see what condition her kidneys, thyroid, liver, digestive enzymes and and other blood levels are. Certain raised blood values will tell your vet if your cat is having some gastritis issues or if her pancreas is inflamed. These are very important findings. Cats will also chronically vomit from kidney problems, liver problems, colitis (intestinal problems) and certain cancers of the digestive system.

So re-think the food you feed her and take her in for a small mini-panel see what's going on. This will also help to set a baseline for future blood work if nothing is found. That is always wise at 5 years old. She is only two years from being a senior so it's good to know where her levels are now.

Let me know what food she is on and I can point you to a better choice.

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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!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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