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Cat Lip-licking, Ibd, And Update-


TCS Member
Thread starter
Sep 23, 2017
A couple of months ago, I opened a discussion about our cat licking his lips. It's been two months and his Mom wanted me to post this detailed history & update. She wrote this via Talk-to-Text, so bear with me if I didn't get everything edited.

We have had an alarming Health crisis with our cat. He's 10 years old and is often vomited, and had hair balls. He would seem to react especially to fish. He could vomit a few times a week. But it wouldn't be anything more than what a cat does when he's hacking up a hairball. He went through a health crisis where he stopped eating as much, and got very constipated. He's been on lactulose and cisapride for years because of extreme constipation. The doctor had assumed it was because he's a snub tail. He thought maybe the nerves might be messed up. He did wonderfully on these drugs until this recent event (in October).

He got so extremely constipated that he stopped eating. Then he began puking up enormous hairballs. One was literally the size of a baby rat. We overreacted and gave him tubes of hairball remedy. We greatly increased his meds. we doubled the cisapride and gave him two to three times the lactulose. Instead of this helping him, and made him very very sick. He began vomiting in a new way. And then extremely violent, convulsive, howling, liquid pouring out of him repeatedly. Not just a gentle puke of the food he had just eaten. He would vomit like this several times throughout the day. We were getting up at all hours of the night to hold him while he was howling and puking. We took him to a vet and she believes that he has IBD. His systems are entirely consistent with it. He has always been a puker. Especially with fish foods. He's always struggled with constipation. And it would alternate with diarrhea too, making it very difficult to keep him stable on his drugs. We were always having to adjust the dose. He's always had struggles with hairballs too. He's voraciously hungry. But after a month of almost constant violent puking we also started to notice that he would lick his lips quite frequently. If you're an obsessive cat owner like I am you can clearly tell the difference between a cat that is licking his lips to indicate that he's hungry, or cleaning his face, to this type of licking, which suggests something's wrong with his stomach. The doctor put him on prednisolone. This helps a fantastic amount. The vomiting has stopped for the most part. And the only time he pukes is if we give him his meds on an empty stomach, or if we have fish in his food. But that puking isn't violence, it isn't convulsive, and it isn't howling and clearly painful for him. It's a quick and easy up and out. So we believe that the prednisone did indeed stop the issue that he was having.

We feel that everything has substantiated the diagnosis of IBD. But we are wanting some feedback on people who have cats with IBD. Because he still doing two things that are very concerning. One is the licking of the lips, which can become even more frequent at times. Especially after he eats. More concerning is that he will lick his lips after vocalizing. If he meows in a normally loud voice he will instantly lick his lips. This is very unusual. He used to be a very talkative cat and now really seems to talk. When we get him to talk he licks his lips as though there's a physical problem. My belief is that, with extreme irritation and aggravation of his gastrointestinal lining, due to all the extreme laxative and the acid involved in the endless vomiting, perhaps it has eroded the gastrointestinal lining. But another concerning thing is that there are times when we pick him up and hold him like a baby, and he'll make a noise as though he's being squeezed. Sometimes in this position will get him to talk and his voice comes out as though it's being squeezed. This is most noticeable after he's eaten and has a full tummy. We would think that there's something wrong in there but the doctor felt nothing abnormal and even when we strongly push and poke his belly he shows no discomfort or pain of any kind. The vet wanted us to pay $1,000 to have him put under and have x-rays and ultrasounds and scoping. Not only is that not feasible, the trauma to him alone isn't worth having. He almost died the last time he went to a vet, because she did not know how to handle him correctly. He does not do well with people handling him. We would definitely be willing to consider these expensive procedures if it wasn't for the fact that he has an excellent appetite, is pooping and peeing well, is humping and playing and being a normal happy cat. He stretches when he's comfortable. He seems perfectly fine, except for these two concerning signs. We would like to know what you think about them and if you've experienced this with IBD or anything else.

Thanks a lot for reading through this and for any suggestions.


TCS Member
Adult Cat
Nov 17, 2005
Nor Cal
Humping? LOL
Lip licking, loud meowing = nausea. Cats generally hide their pain and discomfort. That "squeezing" meow is he is in pain, and I would avoid causing that noise. Cats need space. Stress makes them sick.

Look at using the furminator and brushing everyday instead of medication. Take him to the groomer if it's that bad.

If prednisolone is working, it could indicates certain underlying diseases such as allergy or autoimmune disease (according to my one vet). If that were my cat, I would ensure none of his food EVER has fish, fish meal, or other seafood in the list of ingredients. You should also try a special diet, such as prescription diet or novel protein, to see if that works. It would rule out feline intolerance/allergy to other common ingredients such as beef, dairy, eggs, possibly poultry. Look at natural laxatives instead of medicines such as pumpkin from the petstore. Along with deworming, deflea, and keep him hydrated.

I wouldn't be suprised if that cat has issues with his GI and organs (e.g., kidneys, liver). Medications have side effects and overmedication can be toxic. Chronically not eating, colititis, dehydration, food allergy, blockages effects their GI and UT. Sometimes you need to find the right vet as not all vets are experienced in this. To me, $1000 for one set of tests seems overmuch. I do think an ultrasound, blood, and urine tests would be a good start and are not invasive. I beleive operations should be a last resort due to the costs, stress, and physical impacts. Then again I am not a vet and I don't know your cat.
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TCS Member
Thread starter
Sep 23, 2017
We didn't give loud meowing as a symptom. We said he licks his lips when he meows. And yes, we know licking of lips means nausea. We said so in the OP. As for the sound he makes, he doesn't react like he's in pain. He doesn't move or try to get away or re-position himself. He just makes the noise. And yes, we know stress is not healthy for anyone, thank you.

He no longer has hairballs. He had one event with hairballs. That is no longer a consideration.

The prednisolone works to stop his vomiting, but not his lip-licking, which is why we made this post.

We've had complete blood panels run. We've had his uring pH tested. He was on prescription diet. As stated in the OP we were told he has IBD. We were looking for people who have experience with cats with IBD so they can tell us why the lip-licking persists while the vomiting & other symptoms have subsided. Thank you for responding and covering the basics with us. Hopefully, someone here will have experience with a cat with IBD who can clarify this.


TCS Member
Super Cat
Jan 24, 2017
Well, I've been down the rocky road of IBD/Lymphoma with 5 cats, so can empathize.

I do concur with your Vet about the diagnosis of IBD. It may also be Lymphoma. There could also be problems with liver, pancreas, spleen or kidney.

Cats with IBD have a LOT of acid in their stomachs. This acid backs up into the esophagus causing "reflux". The cat licks the lips because this acid causes discomfort and nausea.

Yes, I know the vomiting has stopped due to Prednisolone...but he still has NAUSEA...reason he licks his lips. The acid is still there...coming up (reflux) into his mouth.

The howling is a symptom of discomfort...due to all the acid in his stomach.

A cat with IBD who is under good control does NOT have nausea or vomiting. Neither do they howl. I suspect your cat's IBD is not in good control. He may even have cancer.

I would recommend you take your cat back to the vet. He may need a higher dose of Prednisolone and/or other medications to control the nausea.

I would also highly recommend your cat get an Ultrasound. You, and your vet, need to know what all is going on in his gastrointestinal tract so that he can be treated effectively.