Seeing your pet vomit is a terrible sight that no pet parent wants to see. It’s not because of the mess that occurs afterward but also because it indicates various problems and diseases in your pet. Things can get worse when it’s about elderly cats vomiting undigested food.
In this case, vomiting is beyond not a symptom; instead, it is a concern.
An elderly cat throwing up undigested food can be due to several reasons. Quite often, it’s because of aging that brings undesirable and sudden changes that can affect a senior cat’s body mechanism.
Aging also leads to illness and diseases that you won’t find in young kittens, and we will discuss all such problems and cause next in this read.
But before that, let me clarify the difference between regurgitation and vomiting, as every cat owner needs to understand it.
Cat Regurgitation vs. Cat Vomiting
Both these are interchangeable terms but with some core differences:
Cat regurgitation is an unexpected and speedy situation. The cat opens its mouth and throws undigested food out. In most cases, you will not witness any prior symptoms or warnings.
Moreover, regurgitation occurs directly from the cat’s throat. Your feline is expelling food items because it is unable to swallow. In simple words, the food has not reached into the cat’s stomach. Regurgitated food spills often look like a long tube.
On the other hand, vomiting happens when the cat expels undigested food from its stomach. In vomiting, the cat’s digestive system is rejecting to consume the food. Besides, the cat gets uncomfortable as its stomach contracts, and that’s why it pace and roll before vomiting.
Lastly, vomiting is common in cats, but regurgitation is not that common.
What are the reasons for vomiting in elderly cats?
Cats are lovely pets and look like babies, but they are not safe or exempted from aging and its effects. And in elderly cats, aging is the main cause of vomiting.
Here are some occasional vomiting causes in elderly felines:
Cats often swallow hairs and other similar particles unintentionally. If the strands form into a bunch, it can cause irritation in the stomach, which will result in vomiting. If you see your cat vomits fur-balls frequently, consult your vet, and they might advise a prescribed diet to eliminate hair build-up and the ingested hairs.
Eating too fast
This can happen with any cat, and it is the biggest cause of vomiting. Often cats that gobble food too fast may vomit. Similarly, this is common when you have more than one pet due to the competition. When it’s dinner time, one or all cats will become competitive, and they start consuming with lightning fast speed, and as fast as they eat as quickly, they vomit.
This is because, cat’s esophagus is located horizontally, not vertically. So, when they consume too quickly, the food comes back rapidly.
Getting out of control:
Cats don’t count calories while eating, and often vomiting occurs when they eat too much. Naturally, cats are calm eaters and like to consume meals in small chunks but often. Similarly, professionals suggest 4 to 5 small meals in a day.
Furthermore, avoid giving dry kibble to aged cats as they absorb fluid from the stomach and swell, resulting in vomiting.
Eating spoilt or raw food:
Like humans, cats are also susceptible to germs or spoiled food, and sometimes they eat raw food or hunted one. In all these cases, they will feel irritation in their stomach and vomiting.
Some other SEVERE causes for vomiting in cats are:
In these serious cases, cats will vomit on a more regular basis;
Consumption of foreign bodies:
Cats are more picky and conscious about what they eat than the other pets, but occasionally, you will view the cats with blockages. Cotton or string are common and result in a blockage or trauma that causes vomiting.
Ingestion of certain toxins
Toxicities are much less in cats as they have fussy nature. However, there are some exceptions.
Some cats like to spend their time on grassy surfaces. If unavailable, they can become reckless and eat toxic house plants like Dumb Cane and lilies.
Furthermore, felines love antifreeze stuff, but it’s toxic to them. That’s why vets advise not to use antifreeze items in water features, and plastic bottles sealed and labeled, and clean spills immediately.
Food allergies or changes in diet:
Not all foods are the same neither all food items suit all cats. Similarly, dietary changes for cats should be gradual, especially in elderly felines. Besides, some are allergic to certain ingredients in foods. These changes can cause severe vomiting, and in such cases, vets vouch for a hypoallergenic diet containing hydrolyzed proteins.
Parasites and Worms:
When it comes to intestinal parasites, roundworms are the most dangerous for pet animals, including cats. Parasites and roundworms can adversely affect cats of all ages. In severe cases, you will find massive burdens in the vomiting.
Furthermore, roundworms are not the only ones; tapeworms are also common. They are spread via hunting or by fleas and are more hazardous to elderly felines.
So keep your surroundings clean and tidy to prevent the growth of these parasites. Regular and timely working is also necessary to avoid such issues.
Besides, you will find various INEFFECTIVE medications on the market to treat this parasite thing, and no need to use them. Always consult a certified vet before using any pet-related product.
Vets recommend that elderly cats should be wormed in every two or three months and baby cats every month.
Some other intestinal parasites that can cause vomiting are:
- Isospora sp. (coccidian)
Cats with kidney disease or liver disease
Liver diseases are common in cats, and you will see a yellow discoloration on their skin/gums; in most cases, faulty liver causes severe vomiting. However, it is curable.
On the other hand, liver disease in cats mostly occurs with intestine and pancreatic diseases. Together these issues form a complex structure known as ‘triaditis,’ which results in frequent vomiting.
A senior cat throwing up undigested food can also happen due to kidney failure. After working 24/7 for more than 11 plus years, the older cat’s kidneys remain not the same and begin to wear out.
It is also seen that in elderly cats (15 years or more), kidney failure is the last chapter in their medical history.
Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Hyperthyroidism is a severe and alarming disease that mostly results in chronic vomiting. The disease is mainly caused due to a tumor in the thyroid gland and regulates the body’s metabolism. When this tumor produces excessive thyroid hormones, metabolism speeds up, resulting in body weight loss and many other diseases, including vomiting.
Infectious and Gastrointestinal diseases in elderly cats are mainly caused by bacteria and small parasites known as protozoa. Inflammatory and Gastrointestinal diseases cause immune reactions and result in severe diarrhea and/or vomiting.
The common tumors that greatly affect the cat’s stomach and intestines are known as lymphoma and adenocarcinoma. They often lead to a partial blockage resulting in vomiting, sudden weight loss, diarrhea, and appetite loss.
The cat’s age matters greatly, and it determines the tumor’s conditions and severity of the disease. In elderly cats suffering from cancer, chances of recovery are less than the others.
When Is Throwing Up In Cats Not Normal?
In some cases, you might see your cat is vomiting or throwing up food but acting normal. In these cases, you should take the stress.
Below are some red flags that you must pay attention to and try to act as fast as you see them:
- If your pet cat keeps vomiting numerous times in one day.
- If your cat is vomiting for three consecutive days or more.
- If you see blood in the vomit or yellowish color vomits.
When you see any of these, immediately take your cat to your vet and seek their advice. This is because all these conditions are major signs of serious health issues; hence they require a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.
Some Other Symptoms to Look For:
In most cases, vomiting in cats is a non-specific symptom. That’s why it becomes difficult to diagnose a disease solely in the presence of vomiting.
However, some other medical signs to pay attention to in conjunction with vomiting are:
- Bloody diarrhea or simple diarrhea
- Sudden or excessive weight loss in pet
- Extreme thirst or dehydration
- Bloody vomit
- Reduced appetite
- Lethargy and weakness
- Changes in water intake
Lastly, all pet owners need to monitor the vomiting frequency and when it usually occurs (e.g., after dinner, on outdoors, etc.)
How you can Prevent Vomiting in Elderly Cats
Before preventing the cat’s vomiting, you need to determine its cause in the first place. So, here are some tips to make your feline’s life better and reduce their vomiting.
Take it to the Vet
Even if you know the cause of vomiting or why your feline is throwing up undigested food but acting normal, we will advise you to take them to a certified veterinarian.
The vet will conduct multiple tests, X-rays, and blood work to find the root cause of the problem and its treatment. This will also relax your pet and gives you peace of mind.
Prevent Hair or furballs
Hairballs are common reasons why your pet cat throws up, and you need to prevent hairballs so that you can make the cat’s life comfortable. Here are some tips in this regard:
First, brush or groom your cat regularly regardless of what cat breed you have. If you have short or medium-haired felines, brush them properly twice a week.
However, if you have a long-haired cat breed, brush them daily. By brushing them, you can easily get rid of loose hair and other similar items.
Use Special Bowls
This is necessary if you have multiple cats or your elderly cat eats too fast. Luckily, there are special bowls for both these conditions. If your cat eats too fast, you should use a special bowl that reduces the cat’s speed and promote slow eating.
If you have a few cats, always feed them in separate bowls. Similarly, provide small chunks to them and don’t place all bowls close to each other.
Introduce a balanced diet
As a pet owner, you need to learn what a balanced cat diet is and the exact percentage of vitamins, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. It is possible that the food you feed to your cat is causing vomiting and other stomach problems. Similarly, if your pet is allergic to any protein or food item, consult your vet and adopt a prescribed diet.
For elderly cats that often vomit undigested food, vets may draft a special diet plan. However, you will have to take your cat to them to get their advice.
Be aware of Toxic Plants.
If your cat loves to eat toxic items or plants, remove such items right away. If your cat takes a small bite of a toxic plant, no need to panic, but if it throws up or vomits several times, it is serious.
Besides, if you see that the toxic substance is stuck on their paws, wash it properly with shampoo and water.
Will My Senior Cat Eat After Vomiting Indigested Food?
Most cats act normally, even after vomiting. However, there can be exceptions, especially if the vomiting was bloody or too painful. In this case, consult your vet immediately.
After vomiting, your pet cat might not eat, and you will have to encourage them to eat. Below you will find some effective tips that will help you in this situation:
- Try to serve the food with a strong scent or feed seafood to them.
- You can try to feed your cat with meat-based baby food.
- Sprinkle a bit of meaty broth or tuna juice on their food.
Encouraging an elderly cat to eat after vomiting is a time-consuming process. So have patience and be consistent till your pet regains trust in its food.
In some cases, you might see that your cat is vomiting or throwing up food but behaving normally afterward. In this case, no need to worry. However, if you feel that the cat is not normal or vomiting is too severe, you should seek an expert’s advice.
Besides, when an elderly cat vomits undigested food, it comes with symptoms like appetite loss, blood, or lethargy, and you should discuss the matter with your vet.
Lastly, for all pet parents, it is vital to understand when to worry and when to act instantly as it will ensure that your cat is safe, well looked, and stays happy with you.