My Feline Is Throwing Up Undigested Food

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A cat is eating food.
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If your feline friend is throwing up more than the occasional hairball and leaving piles of partially digested or undigested food around your home, visit the vet to determine if she's suffering from an illness. He can develop a treatment plan for your kitty to treat her condition. Your cat could be regurgitating her food, a condition that's usually caused by rapid eating, which your vet can help to determine.


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Vomiting vs. Regurgitation

Vomiting is not quite the same as regurgitation. If your feline friend lowers her head and immediately expels any food she's eaten, she's likely regurgitating it, according to petMD. The food will appear tubular in shape, undigested and covered in slimy mucus. If, on the other hand, your cat is retching and heaving before expelling the contents of her stomach, she's likely vomiting. The food that she vomits will appear somewhat digested and it will be accompanied by a yellow fluid, known as bile. This means that the food had made it into her tummy or upper intestine, rather than just her esophagus. There are very different possible causes for each action.


Causes of Cat Vomiting and Regurgitation

Your cat may vomit due to the buildup of hair in her digestive tract swallowed while grooming, which forms a hairball that she needs to expel, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She also might be experiencing liver or kidney failure, warns Washington State University. Addison's disease, hyperthyroidism, stomach ulcers, pancreatitis, the feline panleukopenia virus, diabetes and cancer also may cause your kitty to vomit frequently. If your cat ingests a toxin, is allergic to a certain type of food, swallows something that causes an intestinal blockage, or is experiencing anxiety, she may throw up. Cats who regurgitate their food simply may be eating too quickly, according to the Best Friends Veterinary Hospital website.


Visiting the Vet

If your kitty is vomiting or regurgitating her food on a regular basis, bring her to the vet to rule out an illness as the cause of her behavior. You should bring a sample of the vomit in a sealed container so your vet can inspect it to help him make a diagnosis. He can run blood and urine tests. He may take X-rays, perform an ultrasound on her abdomen or use an endoscope to inspect her gastrointestinal tract. If food allergies are suspected, he may prescribe a special hypoallergenic diet for her that contains an unusual protein she's never eaten before. Once her medical condition is treated, the vomiting should stop.


Rapid Eating Solutions

If your vet has ruled out a medical condition as the cause of your cat's regurgitation, your cat may be eating too rapidly. Encourage her to eat slowly by feeding her small meals throughout the day or placing a ball in her food dish that she'll have to eat around, preventing her from scarfing down her food. You also can place dry kibble for her in a treat ball, which releases the kibble slowly as your kitty plays with it.


Hairballs and Stress

Feed your cat a hairball-specific diet or give her a hairball lubricant if she's throwing up balls of hair and your vet has ruled out an illness as the cause. These remedies will help your cat eliminate the hairballs in her stool rather than spitting them up. If your kitty is simply stressed out, she may vomit because she's upset. Provide her with plenty of toys to play with and use a synthetic kitty pheromone spray to put her at ease.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.



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