Vomiting and diarrhoea in cats

It can be understandably worrying when your cat has a stomach upset. This is especially the case when they are not acting themselves and are refusing to eat or drink. Vomiting and diarrhea in cats, just like in humans, can have a variety of causes.

The Risks

The concern when an animal is getting sick and having loose stool, is that they can quickly become dehydrated. There is also a possibility that they could develop low blood sugar and abnormal blood salt levels. This is especially true in those with underlying medical issues or those that are very young or very old.

‘Sudden onset’

When a cat becomes acutely unwell, we may wake up to a bad smell, a few puddles of vomit on the rug and a litter tray that is more difficult than usual to clean out.

Sometimes, the cause is obvious, such as an open rubbish bin that has been rummaged through. Other times, we may need to pop our detective hats on and try to figure out what has upset our cat’s stomach.

For outdoor cats, it can be especially difficult to know what they have been up to and if, perhaps, they may have eaten something that they shouldn’t.

Usually, a mild stomach upset that lasts no longer than 24 hours can be treated at home ideally with an over the counter supportive preparation available from your veterinary practice. This is the case if the cat seems otherwise well in themselves and is eager to eat and drink. Things that may also help include:

  • Providing plenty of fresh water to prevent dehydration. It is important to ensure that the water bowl is placed away from the cat’s food source to support natural feline behaviour.
  • Offering a specially formulated bland diet such as a prescription sensitivity diet instead of their usual type of food, in small amounts and often. Human food albeit bland is not always suitable for our feline friends.  Having a good look around the home and garden for any potential ‘culprits’ that need to be removed, such as house plants or a dead bird. Remember that some plants can be toxic to cats & you should contact your vet immediately if you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of an indoor or outdoor plant.
  • Ensuring your cat’s parasite prevention is up to date.

‘Ongoing stomach trouble’

When it comes to ongoing symptoms that may wax and wane over time, it is quite important that we look to find a diagnosis. This is especially true if the cat has other symptoms such as a dull coat, weight loss or a swollen abdomen. In these cases, we may wish to run some diagnostic tests such as bloodwork and/or some abdominal imaging. Similarly, faecal analysis can sometimes be used to help diagnose parasitic and bacterial infections.

There are lots of reasons that a cat can develop chronic diarrhoea and vomiting including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • A Food Allergy or Intolerance
  • Viral infections.

While ‘sickness and diarrhoea’ is a common complaint in our feline friends, there may be more to it than meets the eye. If ever concerned, don’t hesitate to schedule your cat in for a check-up.