What to do for a cat with an upset stomach

Anyone who has ever owned a cat is familiar with the sinking feeling of hearing them be sick. No one likes having to clean vomit or diarrhoea off the carpet or out of the litter box. Although every animal will occasionally have problems with an upset stomach, there are things that can help to cut down on the number of incidents and help kitty feel better in the process.

Determine Severity

Most upset stomachs in cats are caused by them eating something they should not have, ranging from unhealthy food to inedible items. Other common causes can be a new type of food, eating too fast, stress or hairballs. For some of these, there is no need for alarm. However, a cat vomiting repeatedly for two or three days may have a serious medical problem. Bile or blood in the vomit can also be symptoms of a more serious problem.

If there is excessive vomiting or diarrhoea or bile or blood in the vomit, call your veterinarian to check for more serious problems. They can check for blockages, parasites or diseases and prescribe medication if needed. If the vomiting is infrequent and consists mostly of food, however, there are home remedies that can help alleviate the cat’s distress.

Home Care

If the upset stomach is due to eating food the cat shouldn’t have eaten, fasting for 12 to 24 hours can give a cat’s upset stomach a rest. Young kittens should not fast for more than 12 hours. Have water or ice chips available to help the cat stay hydrated. If the cat cannot keep down water, consult your veterinarian.

Follow the fast with a bland diet consisting of white rice mixed with cooked skinless, boneless chicken or well-drained boiled hamburger, with rice the main ingredient. Feed small amounts to the cat over the course of the day. An alternative option to the rice and meat is mixing meat-based baby food with a small amount of water. Make sure that the baby food has no onion or garlic. If the cat still has no interest in eating, try warming the food slightly.

If the upset stomach seems to be due to hairballs, try over-the-counter hairball medication, available at pet stores, or a prescription medication available from your vet. Home remedies that can help include a small amount of butter, oil from a can of tuna, or plain pumpkin.

Gradually reintroduce the cat’s regular diet over three to four days when the cat is no longer vomiting or having diarrhoea.

Final Concerns

Although a cat occasionally throwing up is not necessarily a cause for concern, if there are any other symptoms, such as signs of pain, loss of appetite, weakness or lethargy, it could be something serious and a veterinarian should be consulted. Home remedies are not meant for these types of cases.

Even if a cat has not vomited or had diarrhoea repeatedly, consult a veterinarian if it does not eat or drink for one to two days. In addition to finding a cause for the upset, the vet can prescribe medications to stimulate the appetite.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Shively Wages is a librarian in Fort Wayne, Ind. She attained her undergraduate degree in social work from Manchester College and her master's degree in library science from Indiana University. Her work experience includes social service nonprofit agencies in the United States and Europe. Shively Wages started writing professionally in 2009, and has articles published on Answerbag and eHow.