Monday, October 5, 2015

Why Does My Cat Vomit So Much?

"Me? Fat? Bolt my food?...Never!"
Folks, let's talk about something people don't like to talk about...cats and throw up. Yes, cats vomit. A lot. Some cats do, at any rate.

Take Pierre, for instance. He has so many nicknames in this household. One is Vomitus Maximus. We also run around yelling "Regurgiate!" in a Dalek, voice, the way they yell "Exterminate!" after he eats because he's so prone to projectile vomiting after a meal.

Why does Pierre throw up nearly every other night? That's what prompted my investigation today and asking "why does my cat vomit so much?" The answer wasn't surprising in Pierre's case, and I learned considerably more about cats than I knew before.

It seems that because cats are quadrupeds, their esophagus is horizontal. If they bolt their food too quickly, it can hit the lower esophageal sphincter, which triggers regurgitation. That's a fancy way of saying if they bolt their food, they'll throw it right back up.

Pierre is a food bolter. I'm not quite sure why. He was raised by himself, as the only cat in the household, for the first two years. Then we acquired Raz, but Raz was always fed separately because of his feline leukemia. The feline leukemia virus is highly contagious via shared food and water, so we always fed the cats in separate rooms. There was never competition for food.

He's always gobbled his food and cried for seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths. It got so bad that I had to put him on a diet. He's now at 17 pounds, which is where he'll stay for the time being. When Pierre dies, his vomiting gets worse. I think it's because he's hungrier. I've taken to feeding him the same amount of dried cat food each day but in small portions spaced about two hours apart. This seems to help him because he's not wolfing down a tremendous amount of cat food at once.

There are, of course, other reasons why cats vomit so much. Most cats vomit up hairballs. They groom themselves frequently, and ingest hair, which they cough back up. During shedding season or rainy periods, my outdoor boys will leave hairballs all over the porch. Sometimes the hair is mixed with fresh grass. I do not know for sure, but I've always guessed that eating the grass helps them regurgitate the hairballs.

Another kind of vomit contains the indigestible parts of prey they've recently killed and eaten. Skeletons and organs of mice, voles, shrews and other rodents come back up, and so do bird beaks, feathers and skeletons. It's gross but there you have it.

While researching this topic to figure out why does my cat vomit so much, I stumbled over some interesting advice on I thought Dr. Mercola's website was just for people, but he's got some good pet information there, too. One veterinarian said that some cat foods contain too many slaughterhouse byproducts that are indigestible for cats. Feathers, ground up bones, and other byproducts can legally be added to cat foods, so some cheaper brands may contain things they can't digest. Hence, they vomit it back up just the way they do with those dead birds they eat.

Another interesting fact is that when I find vomit around the house that seems clear or slimy, it's bile. Cats anticipate their next meal and my cats are on a regular schedule. Genghis throws up bile a lot, and I realize now that it's probably because  his meals are late. When cats anticipate their food, their stomachs produce considerable acid, which irritates the lining and makes them regurgitate. On evenings when we go out to eat or travel during the day, and Genghis' meals are off schedule, he vomits. It certainly answers that question!

There are, of course, some serious medical problems that can cause a cat to vomit. Pancreatitis, poisoning, a blocked intestine, parasites and other sicknesses can make your kitty a chronic hurler. If your cat vomits more often than not, or seems lethargic or sick, take him to a vet.

Luckily, our vet concurs with us that Pierre is just a hog and bolts his food.  A few simple steps at adjusting your cat's diet or feeding schedule may help solve the problem of why does my cat vomit so much!

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