Yakety-yak, it’s tough figuring out sick cats

I always thought our cats were the experts at eating too much food too fast then yakking it up all over the house. I come to find out this binging and barfing is one of the most common things cats do. It’s called regurgitation and I know it’s not a pretty visual.

When a cat’s stomach wall expands too fast, the brain receives a signal causing regurgitation much like dogs and even humans.

We’re forever cleaning up cat spew and I know for a fact that BoBo has the weakest stomach of all our cats and is often the culprit. My husband votes Katie as a close second.

BoBo is also our cat who can’t drink milk. Milk is not good for cats actually (many have an allergic or adverse reaction to milk, contrary to popular belief.)

If your cat is a food gorger, there are puzzle-feeding bowls you can buy that help to slow down their eating. I should get one of those for myself. I still eat like I did when I was a teen in high school and had 20 minutes to scarf down my lunch in the cafeteria.

There are other reasons that cats will throw up, however. It can be a symptom that there is something medically wrong. It is important to check with your vet because animals, especially cats, are pros at masking illness until symptoms prevail, and oftentimes a condition is quite serious.

Recently, my co-workers’ cat, Salem, started throwing up more liquid than food. After the second bout, they took him to their vet who immediately took an x-ray to rule out a blockage. When no blockage could be found, they did a blood work panel to check for any abnormal readings. Everything was negative (fortunately, yet still puzzling) so they proceeded to give him an IV because he was a little dehydrated.

Giving a cat an IV is not funny, but I do have to chuckle a bit because when the same thing was happening to our BoBo a few years ago and the vet gave him an IV, he got a fluid bump on his back and looked just like a camel until the fluids were absorbed. I’m sure he found no humor in my humor. Still, he looked funny.

They also gave Salem an injection for nausea and sent him home with anti-nausea pills, along with a few cans of special prescription diet food that would be much milder on his system. They were to take him off his dry food for a few days before weaning him back on it.

So far, he’s doing well. He quit throwing up and is acting much perkier, albeit starved, because they won’t let him graze at his leisure on his dry food yet.

In BoBo’s case, when he got sick, he started going off and hiding in boxes. He clearly didn’t feel good. He was lethargic and just didn’t look well. He was also throwing up. In addition to the other tests, I recall our vet gave him a shot of antibiotics, too, which proved quite beneficial. She surmised that he must have picked up a virus, because it wasn’t long till he was back on the counters knocking every unattached item onto the floor. His behavior while sick and after feeling better was like night and day.

You can tell. You know your pets. Follow your instincts and always check with the vet. The sooner the better since animals are so good at masking illnesses. It’s part of their self-preservation instincts and they’re so very good at it. Again, by the time you notice symptoms, they have probably not felt good for some time. If only we could speak their language.

Amy is the author “Have Dog Will Blog,” editor of the Central PA Pets magazine, and director of the Central PA Pet Expo. She can be contacted at ahanna@altoonamirror

.com or by mail: Paws and Reflect, c/o Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror, 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.


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