My female cat is 7 years old. She has always had trouble with vomiting; my cat throws up after eating. But recently I have notice she has blood in her stool. What causes this?
Cats that vomit after they eat usually do this because they eat too fast. Try breaking her meals into smaller portions and see if that doesn’t help control the cat vomiting. If that doesn’t help, I would take your cat to the vet and have some basic bloodwork done to rule out any metabolic cause for the vomiting, such as kidney or liver disease. These are unlikely in a 7-year-old cat, but check it nonetheless. If the bloodwork comes back normal, try switching your cat to a bland, highly digestible cat food designed to be easy on the gastrointestinal tract. Your veterinarian undoubtedly carries these products and can make some recommendations.
If this doesn’t control your cat’s vomiting, try a hypoallergenic diet. This is a diet that contains a protein source that the cat has never been exposed to, such as rabbit, venison, or duck. Feed absolutely no other food during this trial period or the results will be inconclusive. Gastrointestinal signs usually resolve in a few days. Because so many other illnesses can cause vomiting, your veterinarian may want to perform additional diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, to rule out other reasons for vomiting.
The blood in your cat’s stool suggests that your cat has colitis. Colitis is defined as an inflammation of the colon. Colitis has several possible causes including a sudden change in diet, eating something unusual, overeating, inflammatory bowel disease, food allergy, colon cancer, bacterial infection, parasites, Giardia and stress. Cats are very sensitive to changes in their environment and may experience a bout of colitis in response to a disruption in their routine (relatives visiting for the holidays, a move to a new home, a drastic change to the owner’s work schedule, a new cat in the household, etc.).
Cats with colitis usually have diarrhea, often with blood or mucus in the feces. They may strain while defecating and may visit the litterbox more frequently than normal. Vomiting can happen at the same time as the cat is straining to defecate or soon afterward. Because your cat vomits after she eats, and not around the time she has the bloody stool, I don’t think the two are related. When cats have colitis, a sense of urgency is usually associated with defecation, and some cats cannot make it to their cat litter box in time and will defecate on the floor.
An occasional episode of colitis is not uncommon in cats, however, recurrent episodes may signal a more serious problem and should be addressed by your veterinarian. To diagnose the cause of colitis, you might need several tests including a complete blood count, chemistry panel, urinalysis, fecal examination and fecal culture. X-rays or abdominal ultrasound may be warranted, and in some cases colonoscopy may be necessary to obtain a diagnosis. This requires general anesthesia.
Treatment of colitis depends on the cause. This may include changing the diet to a high-fiber diet or a hypoallergenic diet, administering probiotics, dewormers, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs. In many cases, a cause cannot be identified and cats are treated symptomatically. Typically, this involves withholding food for 12 to 24 hours and then gradually introducing a bland, non-irritating diet followed by gradual re-introduction of the cat’s normal diet. Avoid sudden changes to your cat’s diet and keep stressful events (any abrupt change in environment) to a minimum to avoid recurrence.
By Arnold Plotnick, DVM
Featured Image: Sharaf Maksumov/Shutterstock