How to Treat Feline Regurgitation

Edit Article It can be very upsetting and unpleasant to have your cat regurgitating its food all the time. Not only is it a nuisance for you, it can signal a health problem in your cat. If your cat is throwing up often, you should have it looked at by a veterinarian. Your veterinarian can assess your cat's health, figure out whether your cat is vomiting or regurgitating, find the source of the problem, and suggest treatment options. With a bit of care from you and your veterinarian, you can likely minimize, or end, your cat's regurgitation.

Getting Veterinary Treatment for Regurgitation

  • Treat problems with the esophagus.The most common medical cause of regurgitation in cats is a disease or problem with the function of the esophagus. If your veterinarian finds that your cat has an obstruction or malformation in its esophagus, then they will suggest treatment options for your pet.[1]
    • Common causes of regurgitation associated with the esophagus include foreign body obstruction, strictures, vascular abnormalities, or tumors.
    • Tumors will likely need to be treated with surgery.
    • Antibiotics can be used to clear up some abnormalities that are caused by infections.
  • Treat related illnesses.When your cat regurgitates, it is possible that it will inhale some of the food and liquid into its lungs. If that happens, it could cause the cat to get a cough or even pneumonia. If your cat does develop a cough or pneumonia, these problems should be treated by a veterinarian.[2]
    • Treatment for pneumonia in cats usually includes giving it a broad spectrum antibiotic and antifungal or antiviral drugs. Additionally, your cat may need supportive care in for the form of oxygen, fluids, and nebulization, which keeps the lungs moist.[3]
  • Give your cat anti-regurgitation medication.There are some medications that can be given to cats that will reduce their regurgitation and your veterinarian may prescribe one for your cat. Remember, however, that these medications will treat the symptoms but will not eliminate the underlying cause of the regurgitation.[4]
    • Mediations that can by prescribed include cimetidine or any other anti-emetic drug that is approved for use in cats.
  • Slow down your cat's eating.If your cat really loves its food or has to rush to eat to get food before other cats in the house, then it may be eating too quickly. This quick eating can then lead to regurgitating if your cat can't digest all the food. In order to stop this, you should feed your cat slowly. This can be done by either giving it smaller meals more often or feeding it with a puzzle feeder that makes the cat eat slowly.[5]
    • If you feed your cat dry food, you can spread the food out over an area of floor and force your cat to move around to get it. This will slow the eating down.
    • Keep other cats away while the regurgitating cat is eating. This will allow the regurgitating cat to relax and eat more slowly.

Getting a Veterinary Diagnosis for Regurgitation

  • Differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation.Regurgitation is different from vomiting, and thus has different causes and treatments. With this in mind, it's important to be able to tell one from the other. In general, vomiting is an active action that involves the cat's entire body seizing. Regurgitation, on the other hand, is a passive process in which the cat lowers its head and then food simply slides out of the esophagus easily and unexpectedly.[6]
    • Vomit usually consists of partially digested food and stomach bile, which is typically yellow. Regurgitation usually consists of undigested food that never got all the way into the stomach and mucus.
    • Regurgitated food is also often in tube form, as it was sitting in the esophagus before being expelled.
    • It is more common for cats to vomit than to regurgitate.
  • Take your cat to a veterinarian.If your cat is repeatedly regurgitating, take it to be seen by a veterinarian. Regurgitation once in awhile, for instance once a month, is usually not cause for concern, but more often than that you should get the cat checked out.[7]
    • When you make an appointment for your cat to be seen you should tell them what the issue is and how long the symptoms have been occuring.
  • Tell the veterinarian about your cat's symptoms.When your veterinarian is trying to figure out what it wrong with your cat, they will first need to figure out whether your cat is regurgitating or vomiting. Your details about the cat's symptoms can help them to do this, as it is rare that the cat will regurgitate on command for them to witness.[8]
    • In order for the veterinarian to differentiate between vomiting and regurgitation, you may want to take a video of your cat while it is having an episode. Showing your veterinarian exactly what is going on will help them immensely with their diagnosis.
  • Allow the veterinarian to do a thorough exam.When figuring out what is wrong with your cat, your veterinarian will need to run tests and assess its physical health. The vet will likely give your cat an overall physical assessment by looking at and feeling the cat's body. Then they will run tests on your cat. These will vary but they will usually include a variety of blood tests.[9]
    • With the information you give the vet and the information they get from their assessment and tests, they should be able to give you an accurate diagnosis.
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