Reader Question: All the Cats I've Ever Owned Have Thrown Up Regularly

All the Cats I've Ever Owned Have Thrown Up Regularly
CatChannel veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, helps determine why cats could chronically vomit.

Dr. Arnold Plotnick is one of CatChannel's feline health experts. Check out more of his CatChannel answers.

Q: All my cats have, through the years, tended to vomit two to three times a week. Even my 1-year-old baby is now throwing up her food. Am I feeding them too much? Could there be something in the homes where I've lived that causes this? My cats, past and present, have never been outside. I would just like to know why they eat and, 10 minutes later, throw up their food.

A: Every cat vomits occasionally. Most of the time, harmless reason explains it, such as a sudden change in diet, eating too fast or having hairballs. In some instances, however, vomiting can be a serious sign of illness. 

When cats vomit, the cause is either a problem in the gastrointestinal system or a problem elsewhere in the body. For example, cats can vomit from a gastrointestinal disorder such as food allergy or inflammatory bowel disease. Cats can also vomit from systemic disorders that have nothing to do with the gastrointestinal system, such as kidney disease; if the kidneys can’t remove toxins from the bloodstream, the toxins accumulate, leading to nausea and vomiting. Because vomiting has so many potential causes, diagnosing the reason for cats vomiting can be challenging. Your case is particularly odd, since all of your cats seem to be having this problem.

An acute bout of vomiting in a cat who seems normal is seldom a cause for concern, and can be treated symptomatically at home by withholding food for a few hours and then gradually reintroducing the diet. Cats that have vomited multiple times in one day or several times a week may need to be examined by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will likely want to run a number of tests such as a complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis and fecal exam.

If the initial tests are OK, a reasonable first approach  would  be to change the diet  to a bland, highly digestible prescription diet and see if that helps. If not, the next choice would be a hypoallergenic diet, i.e. a diet that contains a protein source  that your cat(s) has never encountered, such as rabbit, venison or duck. Your  vet likely carries prescription diets of this type. If dietary changes do not help, further diagnostics such as X-rays, and perhaps ultrasound or endoscopy. In some cases, abdominal surgery is necessary to make a definitive diagnosis. 

Treatment of vomiting depends on the underlying cause. The prognosis will vary depending on the cause.

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Dr. Arnold Plotnick and Kevin Duck on Arden Moore's Pet Life Radio Show *Oh Behave*

Dr. Arnold Plotnick ........Kevin Duck on Pet Life Radio

Dr. Arnold Plotnick............................Kevin Duck
What is it about catnip that drives many cats c-r-a-z-y? Here to unlock the mysteries of this herb are special guests:  Arnold Plotnick, DVM, one of the nation’s top cat veterinarians who operates the Manhattan Cat Specialists Clinic in New York City; and Kevin Duck, the creative owner of Ducky World Products, manufacturers of high-quality, organic-catnip-filled toys and more. These two guys dig cats and delight in ensuring that felines everywhere enjoy healthy, fun-filled lives. Listen carefully for the code word and win one of two gift baskets being given away by Ducky World. For more details, check out host Arden Moore’s free e-newsletter, Arden Moore Knows Pets at Bonus tip: learn how the powers of catnip work on people!

Questions or Comments? Send them to:

If you're in New York City, Ducky World YEOWWW Catnip toys are available at Manhattan Cat Specialists:  230 W. 76th Street. New York, NY 10023. (Directions)

Dr. Plotnick's published article: "Catnip - the Mysterious Herb"

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National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week | August 16th-22nd

Every dog has his day.
We're making sure cats have their day too!

That's why Feline Pine created "Take your cat to the vet week." From August 16th to the 22nd, we'll raise awareness of the fact that cats need an annual veterinarian examination just as much as dogs.

The natural cat litter company lengthened the observance because of positive responses from veterinarians and cat owners last year in Chicago, said Michele Gaspar, DVM, Dipl. ABVP (feline), the company's national “spokesvet.”

National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week aims to educate cat owners about the importance of annual veterinary visits for their pets. In a national survey conducted by Feline Pine in spring 2009, more than one-third of the 720 respondents said they took their cats to the veterinarian only when the animal was sick. Only 17 percent of those surveyed had their cats regularly vaccinated against diseases like rabies and distemper.

"Did you know that approximately 10% of pets presented to veterinary clinics for annual check-ups have some underlying disease or abnormality?

Due to advances in veterinary care, cats today are living longer than ever before. This means that more cat owners will be faced with the special demands and problems that become apparent with age. Understanding the aging process and the most common problems that face the aging cat is the first step in providing the best possible care to elderly patients. The doctors and staff at Manhattan Cat Specialists have a special fondness for senior kitties, and we are keenly aware of the special problems and needs of our elderly patients." Dr. Arnold Plotnick MS, DVM, ACVIM, ABVP

Dr. Gaspar “There is a misconception that cats are independent and they don't need the level of care that dogs do. Cats also don't show disease well. We can have cats who look normal but when they are covering up a serious illness." Dr. Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP (Feline), Feline Pine in house veterinarian.



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Strangest things ever Found Inside of a Cat

I have a funny story and memorable photos from a case I saw a while back. A cat named Hot Dog Stallard. My veterinary practice is located in Manhattan, where da Noo Yawk accent reigns supreme. When Jennifer Stallard brought her 16-pound orange bruiser of a cat into my office and introduced me to “Hot Dawg”, it was clear that Ms. Stallard had come to the Big Apple from a place firmly south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Hot Dog had come in for a routine physical examination. There were no health complaints. Hot Dog was eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping perfectly fine. His heart and lungs sounded okay, his lymph nodes were normal size, and his pulses were nice and strong. Everything was normal, until I felt his abdomen. My heart sunk. I felt a mass. A huge mass.

I broke the news to Ms. Stallard. I told her that we should perform abdominal ultrasound to further characterize the mass, and depending on the diagnosis, we would assess our treatment options. A mass this size is very likely to be cancer, I warned her, but we agreed to remain positive and not jump to conclusions until the ultrasound was completed.

The following day, ultrasound was performed. The ultrasound waves couldn’t penetrate the mass. It wasn’t a tumor. It was a foreign body in the stomach. I related the news to Ms. Stallard. I told her that this was a much better diagnosis than cancer. The next step would be surgery.

The next day, Hot Dog was prepped for surgery. I had my camera ready, as I suspected that this huge thing was going to be no ordinary foreign body.

I made my abdominal incision and quickly located the stomach, and I could feel the large mass inside. I grabbed the scalpel and made my incision into the stomach. A big clump of brown material emerged. On first glance, it wasn’t possible to determine what it was, as you can see in the photo.

I pulled out the fetid mass. More material followed. And more. And more. I dropped the shapeless lump on a towel, and my technicians Rita and Hiromi eagerly picked it apart in the sink while rinsing off the adhered food particles. “Oh my gosh!” said Rita. “Dr. Plotnick, you have to see this!” echoed Hiromi.

We laid the contents out on a blue surgical towel. The majority of the mass consisted of elastic-type bands used to keep Ms. Stallard’s pony-tail off her neck. There were a lot of them. Twenty-eight, to be exact. There were also a few huge rubber bands, a few small pieces of plastic ribbon, and several chewed-up clumps of paper.

Hot Dog recovered uneventfully from his surgery, and Ms. Stallard came by the hospital that evening for a cage-side visit. I brought Ms. Stallard into the treatment room, to show her Hot Dog’s stomach contents, which were laid out on a blue surgical towel. She looked at the towel, and without skipping a beat, in her genteel Georgian accent said, “Hmm. Ah was kinda wonderin’ where all of mah hair bands went to.”

Hot Dog returned to our hospital several days later to have his stitches removed. His incision site looked great, and he was back to his old self. Ms. Stallard presented me with a lovely (non-surgical!) photo of Hot Dog. With a huge mouth like this, maybe it’s not so surprising how much stuff we found in his stomach!

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Iams Pet Food Recall Expands

Iams pet food recall extends to veterinary formulations
Salmonella fears trigger recall of some 22 veterinary formulations

Iams voluntarily expanded its recall to include veterinary and some specialized dry pet food out of fears of Salmonella contamination.

The Procter & Gamble company reports the recall of some 22 veterinary formulations was issued as a precautionary measure.

Recalled products include:

Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas: all dry sizes and varieties; best by date of 01Jul10 - 01Dec11; all UPC Codes

Eukanuba Naturally Wild: all dry sizes and varieties; best by date of 01Jul10 - 01Dec11; all UPC Codes

Eukanuba Pure: all dry sizes and varieties; best by date of 01Jul10 - 01Dec11; all UPC Codes

Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin: all dry sizes; best by 01Jul10 - 01Dec11; all UPC Codes. "These products are made in a single, specialized facility. In cooperation with FDA, P&G determined that some products made at this facility have the potential for salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling all products made at this facility," the company reports in a statement.

Consumers are asked to discard the dry pet foods listed as part of this recall, P&G reports in a statement. In addition, people handling dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.

Pets infected with Salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

For more information about product replacement or refund call P&G at (877) 340-8823.

The veterinary diets impacted by the recall include:

Intestinal - Low Residue E: 5 LB, UPC 0 19014 12405 3

Optimum Weight Control D: 5 LB, UPC 0 19014 15105 9

Weight Loss Restricted Calorie: 5 LB; UPC 0 19014 12205 9

Renal Early Stage: 5.5 LB; UPC 0 19014 14410 5

Joint: 6 LB; UPC 0 19014 21006 0

Skin & Coat Response FP: 6 LB; UPC 0 19014 12106 9

Skin & Coat Response KO: 6 LB; UPC 0 19014 21106 7

Puppy Intestinal Low Residue: 8 LB; UPC 0 19014 12908 9

Weight Loss Restricted Calorie: 14 LB; UPC 0 19014 12214 1

Joint: 15 LB; UPC 0 19014 21015 2

Optimum Weight Control D: 15 LB; UPC 0 19014 15115 8

Skin & Coat Response FP: 15 LB; UPC 0 19014 12115 1

Skin & Coat Response KO: 15 LB; UPC 0 19014 21115 9

Intestinal - Low Residue; 15 LB; UPC 0 19014 12415 2

Renal Early Stage: 15.5 LB: UPC 0 19014 02235 9

Weight Loss Restricted Calorie: 28 LB UPC 0 19014 12228 8

Intestinal - Low Residue: 30 LB; UPC 0 19014 12430 5

Joint: 30 LB; UPC 0 19014 21030 5

Optimum Weight Control D; 30 LB; UPC 0 19014 15130 1

Skin & Caot Response FP: 30 LB; UPC 0 19014 12130 4

Skin & Coat Response E KO: 30 LB; UPC 0 19014 21130 2

Int Low Residue Breeder Bag: 37 .5 LB: UPC 0 19014 12437 4

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