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Tips to Avoid Your Cat's Stomach Upsets

Feeding Tips to Prevent Tummy Troubles

By Sora Wondra. January 25, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Tips to Avoid Your Cat's Stomach Upsets

Everybody, including cats, can get an upset stomach. If your cat vomits or has diarrhea, here are a few tips that will help calm their digestive unrest.

Everyone gets indigestion from time to time—even cats! Occasional vomiting and/or diarrhea, if lasting less than one day, is normal for most cats. However for some, tummy issues may be a more common occurrence and longer-lasting indigestion may indicate other problems. It's important to closely monitor stomach upsets and watch for a pattern or sign of more serious illness.

If your cat vomits, there are a few things you can do to ensure the stomach upset is minor and prevent it from reoccurring.

Treatment after vomiting

  • Assess cat health:

    Has your cat been acting strangely, lethargic, had trouble eating or diarrhea? If there are other symptoms, vomiting may be a sign of serious illness and you should contact your veterinarian. If the vomit is bloody or occurs again within a 12 hour period, see your vet. If your cat seems happy and healthy despite the vomiting, and no other issues come up, it is probably only a minor stomach upset.
  • Withhold food and water:

    After vomiting, you should remove your cat's food and water for 12 hours, possibly letting them lick ice after a few hours if the vomiting has stopped. After 12 hours, slowly reintroduce fluids and mild, bland food.

Some cats have sporadic digestion issues simply because they run around after eating or eat too much, too fast. If this sounds like your cat, try the following tips to help calm your cat's stressed-out tummy.

  • Wet food:

    If you only use dry food, consider mixing in some wet food, which is easier for cats to digest.
  • Broth:

    Try adding a little chicken broth to your cat's food to aid digestion. Avoid using bouillon cubes that contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). 
  • Water:

    Make sure your cat is drinking enough water. Dehydration is a constant threat because cats have a weak thirst drive and often do not drink enough water. Make sure water is always available, and use wet food, or add water to dry food to make sure your cat is well hydrated.
  • Smaller and fresher:

    Wet food can spoil if left out for more than 20 minutes. If your cat tends to save wet food for later, try giving smaller portions more frequently throughout the day to encourage your cat to eat fresh food. Smaller portions can also keep your cat from overeating.

With a little practice, you should find a solution which decreases stomach upsets and works with your schedule. However, while experimenting with ways to help your cat, make sure that you don't make any harmful mistakes.

Don't Dos

  • Don't give your cat large amounts of tuna or liver:

    Large quantities can lead to mercury poisoning or Vitamin A toxicity. While cats may love these foods, they are not a balanced meal, and should only be used sparingly, in small quantities.
  • Don't give your cat milk:

    We all grew up with images of cats drinking milk from a saucer, but adult cats are often lactose intolerant and cannot digest it properly.
  • Don't limit your cat to people food:

    While human food may seem more appetizing to your cat, it does not provide the balanced nutrition of cat food. If your cat is only eating people food, they may be missing important nutrients. The same goes for dog food: just because the food looks similar doesn't mean it provides the same nutrition. Make sure your cat gets cat food.

Sometimes what seems to be indigestion from food may actually be caused by something else. It's important to properly identify the cause of the stomach upset in order to treat it properly. You may be able to tell, based on other symptoms, if your cat is more seriously ill or needs help. However, if vomiting continues over 24 hours, you should contact your veterinarian.

Alternative Causes

  • Inedible materials:

    Cats, like many animals, occasionally eat what they shouldn't. When cats eat leaves or grass, it may cause vomiting. While cats are less likely to eat your homework, they may eat small inedible objects, especially if they look like food. Cats also love to play and bite at strings, and if swallowed, strings can become a serious health issue. NEVER pull or remove or string from your cat's mouth if it's stuck--go see your vet right away. Hairballs, if not digested or coughed up, can also cause upset or more serious blockages.
  • Allergies:

    In rare cases cats may be allergic to their food. If you have tried all of the above tips and your cat is still having digestion problems, talk with your veterinarian about feeding trials to discern what's triggering the allergic reaction.
  • Other health concerns:

    If tummy problems persist, it may mean that your cat is actually experiencing a parasite or illness. Have your vet check your cat for worms, irritable bowel disease, or other serious conditions.

A stressed-out kitty tummy doesn't have to be a major stressor in your home. If you know indigestion is due only to strange eating habits, use these strategies to keep your cat purring, happy, and healthy.

More on Cat Care

When to Take a Cat to the Vet
How Much Do Cats Sleep?
How to Train a Cat

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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