Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Furballs and vomiting

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Stomach and intestinal disease is so common in cats that many people think vomiting and ‘furballs’ in an otherwise healthy cat are normal.


Vomiting more than once a week, particularly if your cat is losing weight is NOT normal. Furballs are a sign of stomach or intestinal inflammation and should be investigated.


There are many causes of vomiting. The easiest to diagnose and treat is an intolerance to a particular food, usually a protein like fish, lamb or beef. If the vomiting stops when your cat is switched to a hypoallergenic diet then a dietary intolerance is the most likely cause. Once the offending protein has been identified you just have to avoid feeding it to your cat.


Cats that eat grass or other hard- to-digest plants frequently vomit. Preventing access to the grass may solve the problem but often they are driven to eat grass by an irritated stomach.


If a hypoallergenic diet does not eliminate the vomiting we suspect a more serious disease like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a gut cancer. IBD and low grade gastrointestinal lymphoma are quite responsive to treatment. Occasionally more serious cancers are found.


An ultrasound may show increased thickness of the stomach or small intestinal wall indicating IBD or lymphoma. Occasionally another problem like a partial blockage or a solid cancer is found.


Unfortunately ultrasound does not distinguish between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma. Biopsy samples of the stomach, small intestinal wall, abdominal lymph nodes, liver and pancreas obtained during abdominal surgery are the most accurate way of distinguishing them.


A veterinary pathologist looks at the biopsy sample under the microscope and determines if IBD or lymphoma is present and then classifies them. This information helps us make a treatment plan and predict the response to treatment.


Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by a chronically irritated stomach and intestinal lining. The inflammation is sometimes caused by an irritant in the food. Often the cat’s immune system overreacts to components of a normal diet. It is usually very difficult to identify the specific cause. The inflammation interferes with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Therefore cats with advanced disease lose weight and try to compensate with an increase in appetite. Treatment includes immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisolone, special diets and vitamin B12 injections. Often, cats get an initial short course of antiparasitic drugs and antibiotics to rule out other irritants of the intestine.


IBD is not a curable disease but proper treatment controls it and stops or slows the vomiting and weight loss. Overall, the prognosis is very good.


Low grade lymphoma is treated similarly but a low dose chemotherapy drug is added in. Many cats live for years with proper treatment.


If dietary intolerance, IBD or low grade lymphoma are left untreated higher grade bowel cancers may develop.


Search Blog

Recent Posts


yowling gifts ACT visit bed stare into space sudden blindness behaviour change salivation bump lilies holes ribbon fleas blood in urine home poisonous eye ulcer nails abscess flea prevention christmas cat history noisy breathing best vet love blind checkup whiskers dental snakes introducing cat vet feline herpesvirus furball blue feliway AIDS cat behaviour gasping pred urine poisonous plants holidays Canberra Cat Vet signs of pain chlamydia overweight cat worms grass eye infection New Year's Eve adipokines toxins senior old cat eye lick vaccine arthritis itchy crytococcosus antibiotics indoor cats kidney cat urinating outside litter heaing competition blood vet visit vaccination bladder stones Canberra snot sore unwell nose scabs sense of smell anaemia poison diarrhoea attack kidney disease urinating on curtains or carpet award appointment cat fight hospital odour pain relief changed stiff pain killer tumour hard faeces fear ulcer permethrin paralysis heart disease vomit exercise cancer meows a lot lily birthday health check restless lilly fluid pills roundworm tradesmen best clinic not eating cystitis training allergy pica breeder dental treatment calicivirus tartar weight control virus bite head teeth runny eyes fat sensitive stomach carrier urination polish cage sneeze tooth cranky change face rub abscess,cat fight plants lame learning holes in teeth cognitive dysfunction comfortis pain toxic aspirin runny nose radioactive iodine drinking more sun fever mycoplasma spraying cta fight hiding stress drinking a lot catoberfest hole unsociable paracetamol fits slow physical activity socialisation food puzzles diabetes breathing difficult kitten play rigid head goodbye lump tablet aggressive opening hours enteritis furballs panadol hearing prednisolone aerokat pancreatitis conflict dry food rough play IBD seizures open night dental check advantage mince groom dementia tick mouth breathing liver pet meat hunched over kidneys ulcers obese headache heavy breathing eyes snake bite massage scale African wild cat client night paralysis tick herpesvirus vomiting cat friendly old microchip bad breath xylitol wobbles train kibble hypertrophic cardiomyopathy flea treatment sick wet litter euthanasia cat enclosures information night scratch snuffles paralysed rash vocal weight loss return home cryptococcosis pill urine spraying prey cough worming thyroid hypertension vision hairball desexing straining urinating open day hunters thirsty litter box FIV when to go to vet intestine pet kittens string behaviour fight litter panleukopenia brown snake dilated pupils new cat blood test snake aggression free ulcerated nose skin skinny blood pressure senses snuffle appetite lymphoma diuretics Hill's Metabolic renal disease activity scratching post introduce twitching snakebite photo competition new kitten moving obesity sore eyes allergy, collapse depomedrol computer best cat clinic mass on heat weight wool sore ears touch marking decision to euthanase hungry antiviral high blood pressure plaque feline enteritis foreign body off food grooming cat containment blockage strange behaviour jumping pet insurance biopsy flu sick cat blocked cat panamax hunting check-up holiday hyperactive revolution scratching new year pheromone kitten rolls asthma sucking wool fabric rub bladder introduction cat enclosure anxiety castration annual check spray constipation echocardiography desex insulin enemies petting cat cortisone cat flu kitten deaths thiamine deficiency fireworks tapeworm hunter mental health of cats panadeine skin cancer painful inflammatory bowel disease blindness in season panleukopaenia introductions best veterinarian sensitive corneal ulcer diet body language poisoning FORLS spey hyperthyroidism dymadon worms poisons


A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

Get Directions