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Diarrhea & Vomiting in Cats: When to Call Your Veterinarian
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Race Foster, DVM
Digestive System
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At one time or another every cat has a bout of vomiting or diarrhea. Usually they have eaten something disagreeable, eaten too much or too fast, are overly excited or nervous, have hairballs, or their body is reacting to any of a number of other non-serious conditions.

If your cat is not showing other signs of illness, you can save yourself a trip to the vet if you wait 12 hours and do the following:

  1. Take away all food and water so that the irritated intestinal tract can settle down. Nothing makes a vomiting cat vomit more than eating a large meal or drinking a large amount of water. You may allow the cat to drink very small amounts, and in this short time, if your cat is otherwise healthy, you don't have to worry about dehydration. If the diarrhea resolves, after 24 hours, you may give your cat very small amounts of a bland food, such as drained, cooked hamburger or chicken mixed with an equal amount of cooked rice.

  2. Observe your cat closely. Is behavior and activity otherwise normal? Think about and try to identify the cause of the problem. Could your cat have eaten something (like grass or a plant, garbage, or a dead animal) that upset her digestive system? Has your cat been wormed lately? Watch how your cat vomits or eliminates so you can describe it to your veterinarian if symptoms persist. Examine the stool or vomit. Collect samples if you believe you will need to take your cat in.

When you should call your veterinarian

Vomiting:

  • blood in vomit
  • vomiting accompanied by diarrhea
  • vomit looks and smells like stool
  • vomiting is projectile
  • vomiting is sporadic and there is no relationship to meals
  • multiple bouts of vomiting occur over a short period of time
  • ingestion of a poison (like antifreeze or fertilizer) is suspected
  • vomiting persists more than a day or two
  • stomach bloating occurs or your cat tries to vomit but can not
  • cat also appears listless
  • there is weight loss
  • cat is showing other signs of illness such as labored breathing or pain

Diarrhea:

  • bloody diarrhea
  • diarrhea accompanied by vomiting
  • multiple bouts of vomiting occur over a short period of time
  • ingestion of a poison is suspected
  • fever and other signs of toxicity are present
  • diarrhea persists more than a day or two
  • cat also appears listless
  • there is weight loss
  • cat is showing other signs of illness such as labored breathing or pain
 

RELATED ARTICLES:
Treatment of Tritrichomonas Diarrhea in Cats 
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