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Cat vomits almost immediately after eating

DeborahF

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Sugarfoot DSH feline
1 year old
Neutered male, 9 lb
Behavior normal, energy good, appetite ok, can be shy but otherwise ok. Glossy coat, appears healthy, good weight.
Fed combination Weruva Gravy wet food (pouches) and Oragen dry adult kibble
Vaccinations: Rabies 1 year and Feline 4-1 + Leukemia; next due in March 2024

Problem is intermittent vomiting immediately after eating (usually 2-3 minutes) undigested food. Usually fine and playing/acting normally almost immediately after.
Started shortly after he was adopted at the age of 6 months. Can occur 1-3 x a week, and has happened 1-3 times a day on a few occasions.

Possibly could be made worse by his "brother" who was adopted shortly after Sugarfoot. Sugarfoot was adopted early April at 6 months of age. He was a rescue. Sugarfoot is shy compared to the other younger cat, who is now 8 months old and is very active and a "big eater". However, they get along very well, playing, etc.

3 vets consulted - X-rays, bloodwork and stool analysis done, all deemed normal. Please find x-rays and bloodwork files attached.

Currently we are limiting his food intake (1Tablespoon wet food 3 x a day and approximately .5-1 Tablespoon of dry 3 x a day ) but are concerned that this is not enough nourishment. This does seem to control the vomiting after mealtime. Suggested tx is to change to high fiber diet.

We have been fighting this issue since late April of this year and are trying to do our best to help him. Any suggestions would be welcomed and greatly appreciated.
 

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Dr. Jeff

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Hey Deborah!

I'm sorry to hear about Sugarfoot's vomiting health challenge.

His x-rays and bloods look good tho there is gas accumulation in his intestine. Is he a fast eater?

"Scarf and barf" is a very common cause of vomiting right after eating. Eliminating the dry food and using the Mine Pet Platter for feeding is often super helpful for reducing the symptom:

 

DeborahF

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What are your thoughts/comments on the volume of food he is being fed? I would think he should be eating more (albeit more slowly) , but I also read that a cat's stomach is about the size of a golf ball?? We have a "slow feeder" that we use but has not solved the problem...... will look into the Mine Pet Platter right away... and thank you!
 

Dr. Jeff

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What are your thoughts/comments on the volume of food he is being fed?
Feeding less volume more often is great if you can do it. Ideally he'd get no more than a "mouseful".
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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Definitely separate the cats during feeding! Sounds like Sugarfoot is scarfing his food as a protective mechanism.

Dr. Jeff is right, NO dry food. For either cat. A cat's diet should be all wet food, whether pouches, canned, or other forms.

If the slow-feeder bowl doesn't work, try feeding a tablespoon at a time, every 15 or 20 minutes, until he is no longer interested. Let him decide how much. Dry food is much denser in calories, so the initial volume of wet food he wants may surprise you, but he will normalize in a few weeks.

Is his weight normal? An average 10-lb. cat will eat 6-8 oz. of wet food a day. It does not sound like he is getting enough right now.

High fiber diets are worthless, and the lower calorie content is exactly the opposite of what he needs. Most vets do not understand cats. This is a psychological issue, not dietary (other than dry food is terrible for cats!).
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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BTW he does not need the leukemia vaccine. At his age and history, his risk is almost zero. There are combo vaccines that do not include it. If your vet doesn't carry one, find another vet. Seriously.
 

DeborahF

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Just saw Dr. Jean's comments just now (9/24) as I didn't get an email notification regarding new comments on this thread. (My apologies about the dry food as I didn't see these comments until just now)

We were doing well for about 12-13 days on 5-6 small meals a day, now the vomiting is back again. Twice in the past 24 hours. This am he was only given 1 tablespoon of wet food (spread out on a dinner plate) and .5 T dry food in a slow feeder and he vomited while he was still eating at 6 am. He was last fed before that at 10pm last night, 1 T of dry food. Trying to get him to hold food down after these vomiting episodes is a lengthy and difficult process and usually takes a couple of days. We are VERY concerned about him not getting enough calories. He was fed wet and dry food 3 x a day with 2-3 "snacks" in between during the last 12-13 days.

He is a petite cat, 1 year old. weighs around 8 lb but may have lost a few ounces due to this issue. He has a sleek coat, is not thin (yet) and his body score was "ideal" when we had xrays done.

What is the volume of a "mouse" as far as wet food goes? We are frustrated and are very concerned and discouraged. I thank you for your suggestions and will do my best to incorporate them into his diet. I am a bit afraid to feed a tablespoon of food every 15-20 minutes as I fear he will throw up again......



@ Dr. Jean
@ Dr. Jeff
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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A mouse weighs about an ounce. Cats do not digest the fur, claws, etc. but everything else is valuable. A 10# cat will eat 8-9 mice a day, one at a time whenever he catches the next one. Hence the 6-8 oz of wet food as a general daily rule. If TBSP is too much feed a teaspoon, wait longer between, etc.

*Please* stop the dry food. It is irritating to the stomach and may be a big part of the problem. If he's not getting enough, add meat baby food, Churros (squeeze treats), moistened freeze-dried , or similar.
 

Dr. Christina

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Deborah,
I may have missed you saying this.
Are you working with a holistic veterinarian? It is really important with what you are going through.
1. I do pet health coaching to help you figure out next steps. I am no longer being the prescribing vet. (healthyanimals@aol.com)
2. Go to holisticactions.com/select and read the article about finding a great vet.
3. Take the 101 holistic class, which talks about great feeding, minimizing vaccines (please do not give next March before you have read that lesson).

Dr. Christina
 

DeborahF

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An update: We are now feeding every 3 waking hours 1.5 T wet food ONLY and he has held that down for the past 24 hours. 1.5 T seems to be his volume limit as he does not quite lick the plate (with the food spread out over 2 dinner plates) totally clean like he had been. His BEAM is good - normal playing, has a normal appetite; the only thing I see is a bit of anxiety here and there (not a recent change though as he was a rescue off the streets of Ocala, FL).

Right now, 6 ounces of wet food is 9 tablespoons volume-wise (we measured it), which is 6 feedings a day.
So.... We are on our way to the Good Earth Pet food store to try and get both some dehydrated raw and frozen raw to see if we can pack more calories in this volume of food as it doesn't appear we can get enough calories down him during the day/evening with just wet food as we are doing curently. We are feeding Fussy Cat and Earthborn wet at the moment, but not very many calories there. Not sure if he will eat the raw, but we will be willing to try our best. Any suggestions for transitioning to raw??

That being said, there will be times it will be tough to keep that intense of a feeding schedule. Obviously, there are appointments, necessary travel, etc. that will make that difficult from time to time. We are hoping to eventually get the feedings to 3-4 x a day to enable petsitters, neighbors, etc., to help us when we need it. Do you think that is possible?

I will certainly take Dr. Christina up on her offer of a consultation. In the meantime, any other suggestions, comments are greatly appreciated and welcomed! Thank you!

@Dr. Jean Hofve
@ Dr. Jeff
@ Dr. Christina
 

Dr. Christina

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1. Yes it is completely possible to stop the vomiting permanently. Then you will not have to worry about this frequent feeding when you are not around. Even now, it is ok if you miss one. As the stomach settles with what you are doing, you may be able to feed more and less often. The most important thing you need to do to completely resolve this is to have a homeopathic, Chinese medicine or other good holistic vet (virtual or local) to be your partner in healing. Go now to holisticactions.com/select and read the article about finding a great vet.

2. We have so many food resources at HA - both in the forum and in the main site - you will find lots of support. One key is not to worry about balance, know there is no one RIGHT food, some do better on fresh ingredients lightly cooked, crockpot cooked, raw. Some do better on commercial raw or freeze dried, or lightly cooked. It is fine to do a combination depending on your circumstances that day.

3. Keep listening to the vomiting webinars (this months, and in the past years).

4. Keep positive thoughts - listen to Anitra - Happier and Healthier Cats - Holistic Actions! and
and
- ignore the ad for science diet
Listen to Bernie Siegle, etc.

Dr. christina
 

DeborahF

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Update 10/3/23: Seems after doing canned only, can only get to 4 days without a repeat episode of vomiting/regurgitation, the last episode being tonight. Otherwise, BEAM is quite good, except for some perceived anxiety. Cats are continuing to be separated at mealtimes. Playing normally and happily the rest of the time. Litterbox habits normal. Just had consult with Dr. Christina yesterday 10/2.

Will start probiotics per Dr. Christina but, at this point, really stuck after another episode tonight. At this point, he is really not any better than when we were giving him dry food in addition to wet. (he is only getting wet food since Sept 25th) So discouraging. He only seems to be able to handle 2 tablespoons of wet food at a time. Have been feeding that amount 4 x a day, with vomiting every 4 days even with 2 Tbsp. Weight is 9 lb as of 9/29. Spreading out food on a large mat, which seemed to be working up until this evening. Thought we were making progress! Guess not. :confused:

Dr. Christina asked me to see what Dr. Jean thought as to whether this kitty is vomiting or regurgitating. The food comes up after 2 minutes or so after he finishes eating, undigested. After 2-3 minutes, if he does not vomit/regurgitate, he will keep the meal down. He usually does 2 or so heaves and then undigested food comes up. So is it vomiting or regurgitation. Not sure?? Opinions?

This is the 6th month of our struggles with this issue. We are truly discouraged, to say the least with little to no improvement after unremarkable bloodwork, x-rays, stool analysis, 2 trips to vets and several subsequent vet consultations. It seems no better than when we started!! What else can we do?? Staying positive is really difficult, to say the least, at this point.

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Dr. Jeff

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Hi Deborah!
see what Dr. Jean thought as to whether this kitty is vomiting or regurgitating
I'm also curious to hear what @Dr. Jean Hofve thinks about this.

I typically separate vomiting vs. regurgitating as active and passive. Because of the active heaves, I'd probably think vomiting more than regurg.

Please remind me, have you tried feeding any raw food?
 

Dr. Jean Hofve

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If there is heaving, it is vomiting. Regurgitation is entirely passive. They open their mouth and the food falls out.

Two tablespoons is about an ounce, which is about a hefty-mouse-worth. But he *was* doing fine with 1.5 oz... now vomiting with the larger volume. If you haven't tried it yet (sounded like you were hesitant) give1 tbsp then another after 20-30 minutes, then another in 20-30 if all is well. That is the amount of time it takes for the stomach to signal the brain that food has arrived. He may just be eating a little too much so that the signal the brain gets is "Ack, too much!" If that works you get 1/3 of his daily calories in an hour, if you can do that 3x a day you're golden. Otherwise, he was also doing better with 5-6x a day, which yes is a hassle and not always possible. But it sounds like he has gained weight? So you may be okay there.

Have you tried adding a pinch of ginger powder (or put it in a tiny capsule and pill him?)? It helps speed up gastric motility, which may be part of the issue.

I actually had this problem myself some years back, I was full and nauseous after a few bites, and it turned out to be duodenitis. Everything was swelled up so food couldn't get out of the stomach. So a protectant like marshmallow, and maybe an antioxidant, may be very helpful to soothe inflammation. I know, giving supplements to a cat is NOT fun but there has to be a winning combination somewhere!!
 

Dr. Christina

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After 6 months it can be discouraging. Are you working with a veterinary homeopath or Chinese medicine vet? I forget if we talked about that.

Dr. Christina
 

DeborahF

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Actually, I am researching holistic/integrative vets now. Found 2 practices on west coast that are feline only. Will have to find out if they will do 2nd opinions and/or virtual visits. Don't know if anyone within HA can make some recommendations as to vets? My previous cats were patients of Dr. Jeff's, but presume he is not taking any new patients?

What we need would be someone who can do virtual visits and guide us through this process of getting him back to a state of health (some days I would say maze!!) We can do some noninvasive treatments, but as soon as we try to do anything such as pilling, etc. , we will have to pull him out from hiding, which to me, is worse than the vomiting issue. I firmly believe anxiety is a huge factor here. He is unsure and at times, a bit fearful still. It has taken 6 months for him to BEGIN to trust us. So we have to tread pretty lightly as to not to INCREASE his anxiety levels. I think the desensitization Dr. Christina was describing to us in her phone consult was excellent advice and we are proceeding with that for getting him used to being handled and hopefully submit to it without anxiety one day.

That being said, there still are some things that don't make sense to me with his symptomatology:

1. the vomiting is sporadic, cannot really pin down any corresponding factors, food, etc. with the individual vomiting episodes. ( for example they continue to occur even though we have stopped the dry food) They occur about once every 16 or so feedings. (every 4 days) and have gone as long as once in 10 days but are more commonly every 3-4 days.

The ONE thing I do notice is that you have to let his stomach rest at least 3-4 hours before you can give him food again, after he vomits the first time. If you do not wait long enough, he will vomit the food again. It takes about 24-36 hours to get his feedings back on track after initially vomiting his food.

2. The food gets to his stomach (since he has to heave a couple times to get it back up) but only sits there for 2-3 minutes and then comes right back up undigested. If there was a large "physical component to this, I would think we would see more regular symptoms say, for example every day or with certain types of food , etc. but nothing seems to point in any particular direction, symptoms appear random except for the amount of food tolerated.

3. He is ALWAYS HUNGRY since we are limiting the amount of food and not free feeding at least something, which doesn't help the "scarf and barf".

4. He only did this maybe once in 10 days or so when we first got him. He ate mostly dry food and I was trying to get him to eat more wet food and would sprinkle Fortiflora on the wet food to get him to eat a bit more of it vs the dry food. Then he would vomit the wet food with the Fortiflora after eating a bit more . (he was also getting free choice dry at the time, since that is how he was fed at the foster, mostly dry with supplemental Fancy Feast type of wet). Once I realized what was happening, I stopped the Fortiflora, but the vomiting of the wet food continued in spite of stopping the Fortiflora. That is when vomiting of the wet food STARTED. (he had free choice dry and supplemented with wet food at his foster so that is what we continued with when we first adopted him.

These episodes have increased in frequency. I attribute a portion of that to the 8-month- old companion cat appearing to be a bit more of the dominant cat now, whereas Sugarfoot was dominant when the kitten was younger. No fights, in fact they play beautifully together and often, but I sense tension there as the younger cat will either disturb Sugarfoot when Sugarfoot is resting or take over his favorite sleeping spot, force him away from food, etc. Just is a bit pushy and Sugarfoot just yields but seems to look over his shoulder a lot and is somewhat "jumpy". I would think anxiety plays a large role here.

To answer Dr. Jeff's question, we have raw food to try, but are not sure of the way to best introduce it. We have both dehydrated raw (Stella and Chewy's) and have purchased frozen raw (Primal turkey and Primal Turkey and salmon). What would be the best way to start?

My apologies for being so detailed in the forum. I thought the more history, the better. As always, we appreciate all comments and suggestions. We only want to make sure we don't increase his anxiety and are actively trying to DECREASE it.

Repectfully and with gratitude,

Deborah


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Dr. Jeff

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Thank you for the detailed post Deborah!

Yes, I am still taking on pets of HA! community members like yourself.

Since you have it, perhaps try the Stella and Chewy's first.

When it runs out though perhaps switch to a higher quality brand like Small Batch (they have freeze dried, lightly cooked and raw).
 

DeborahF

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Dr. Jeff:

We would be more than happy to have you as our holistic practitioner for Sugarfoot. Could I please have the link to your site to I can get him set up for an appointment?

Also, we had another episode of vomiting (48 hours from the prior episode) and this seemed to be in conjunction with a lot of stress yesterday for him. He seems to be ok one day but the same things he was ok with one day fill him with anxiety the next day. At his 5 pm meal yesterday, he vomited (2 heaves ) IMMEDIATELY upon finishing his 2 Tablespoons of wet food that is spread out over two large cutting boards. One-third was a pool of liquid with some food (no bile) and the rest absolutely pristine, tube-shaped mass of the canned food. We examined it closely for hair, objects, etc. and found nothing but food. We seem to have finally gotten him back to his 2 tablespoons of canned food per feeding as of 2 pm today. (we haven't changed to the rehydrated raw because of his frequent stomach upsets over the past several days) We have noticed that he has thrown up every type of canned food so far (Fussy Cat, Earthborn, Weruva) as well as the Orajen dry food we no longer feed. The other cat has had absolutely no problems with any of the food.

His BEAM is good except for the anxiety that seems to be increasing at the moment. We have been doing our best to "think like a cat" and not stress him out in any way, but there are some things that we simply cannot control (thunder, his "brother" being overenthusiastic, noises from outside, etc.) Another example, today during a feeding he ran from me and the board the food was on and I have NO idea why. I was able to finally get him to eat by placing the food in another area and retreating! He still plays quite well and enthusiastically. He does eat extremely quickly, although spreading the food out is forcing the feeding to take longer no matter how fast he eats. I hope to try him on some type of raw if we can get a few days strung together without any vomiting (unless you don't think that is an issue)

I look forward to setting up an appointment with you for him and making some progress to overall wellness .

Many thanks! Deborah

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Dr. Jeff

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DeborahF

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Hi Dr. Jeff,

Just a quick update after our zoom first vet visit on 10//11. We finally got Sugarfoot onto dehydrated raw food first if all, which went well yesterday 10/12. We went to 50% mixture of the dehydrated raw food (Stella and Chewy's Chicken) and Primal Salmon and Chicken frozen raw (warmed up of course) for 2 meals today and that was okay. However, tonight, we went 100% frozen raw and he smelled it and promptly threw up just mucus and liquid without eating, with multiple heaving (more than just the normal 2, more like 6 heaves). Thoughts?????

Sigh, discouraged but still grateful,

Deborah and Lewis

@ Dr. Jeff
 
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