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Cat Vomiting And Eating Little... Could This All Be Due To Hairballs?

Discussion in 'Cat Health' started by Bird, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 4, 2019
    My cat had been vomiting once daily for about a week. The vomit was clear foamy liquid or tan liquid. I thought it was a hairball at first, but no hairball materialized, and then her appetite decreased to zero. (She is a light, uneven eater normally, so it's a bit hard to tell when her eating is truly off.) Otherwise, her behavior was normal! Pooping and peeing normally. I took her to the vet. She ended up having an ultrasound, but it was normal. The vet gave her fluids as she was a bit dehydrated, and we gave her an anti-nausea drug for a few days. She improved, started eating, no vomiting. But a few days later, she stated vomiting once daily again, stopped eating--same pattern. Back to the vet for bloodwork this time, which showed concerning creatinine and bilirubin levels. We hospitalized her for 24 hours, another ultrasound (normal), more fluids, more bloodwork (which was closer to normal). Vet says it *may* be gastroenteritis. $3,000 later, still no real answers. Checked her out of the hospital. I scoured the house for clues, and found a plastic bag that she had been chewing on.

    The next day, she gobbles down a bunch of food because we applied an appetite stimulant (prescribed by vet) and she immediately threw up the undigested food along with a large HAIRBALL. The hairball was different - shiny and fresh looking hair, and very large diameter -- unlike the other skinny bedraggled hair balls that I have seen in the distant past (she very rarely coughs up hairballs). She was then fine for about week. But over the weekend, she started the pattern again. She slept more than normal on the weekend and ate very little. Yesterday, she threw up some clear fluid with some small wads of fur in it. Then this morning she threw up more clear foamy fluid and was grouchy (although her general behavior has been fairly normal during this entire ordeal).

    So, do you think this whole thing could boil down to a hairball issue? We are going to try some hairball remedy, which we have never done before. But if she doesn't get better in a couple of days, back to the vet we go. Any thoughts, based on your own experience?
     

  2. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Just wanted to add: My cat is a spayed female, domestic short hair, 4.5 years old, no history of illness, no known health issues. She doesn't normally vomit. She very rarely vomits hairballs--maybe once per year. She is an athletic thin indoor cat, around 9 pounds, who eats mostly grain-free poultry-based wet food (mostly Weruva, Instinct, Nutro) with a small amount of dry Instinct kibble. She has always had a light, cyclical appetite.
     

  3. Furballsmom

    Furballsmom Cat Fan especially Black Cats Staff Member Forum Helper

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    Hi!
    I don't know, but try the hairball remedy, one I like was initially mentioned by @maggiedemi , it is nutrivet hairball paw gel.
    Also try one of these recipes by a TCS member, your kitty needs extra hydration and nutrition;
    Kitten-Rescue.com

    I'm wondering about trying a different vet, maybe?
     
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  4. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Thanks! Technically, she has now been seen by 4 vets: two vets at her regular vet clinic, and a vet and an internal specialist at a larger VCA animal hospital, where she was hospitalized for 24 hours for observation. I am going to look for both the Nutrivet gel and the Tomlyn Laxatone tonight.
     
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  5. munch64

    munch64 TCS Member Young Cat

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    There is a school of thought that it's never "just hairballs," although many vets do think like that. It could be a sign of the start of inflammatory bowel disease. The motility of the digestion tract may not be working properly or there may be inflammation.

    Our cat Farley has either IBD or small cell lymphoma (intestinal or alimentary lymphoma). He started out with hairballs, I'm sorry to say. It developed slowly. The hairballs were huge. I gave him hairball remedy gels, and that cut back on his hairballs and he felt better. But he started having diarrhea and still has that problem now several months later. I don't know if the hairball remedy contributed to that.

    I don't know if there is a way to prevent it, and others may have advice on that. Some people here have recommended feeding raw and have had success with it. Most vets will tell you not to do that, and they will also say that there isn't a cure or sure way to fix IBD. Usually for IBD, switching to a food with fewer ingredients can help. There are commercial ones that can be tried like Merrick limited ingredient diet. And then there are pretty expensive prescription ones. Sometimes it's the specific type of protein that is irritating the digestive tract. Farley seems to be sensitive to fish.

    Probiotics mixed with food can help gut health, although I tried several different types, and they didn't heal either of my cats.

    When my cats have vomited clear liquid, it's a sign of having too much stomach acid. We give Farley famotidine, which is an over the counter stomach acid reducer for people that is safe for cats. (A brand name for it is pepcid AC, but I buy generic). You could ask your vet about this. Most cats get a quarter tablet or 2.5mg. It works quickly. Farley is 14 pounds and he gets 5mg.

    Another thing that helps with tummy issues and excess acid is slippery elm. I had a lot of success with this in my Siamese girl Gwennie who had IBD. I do not have success with this with Farley. He usually vomits it. I don't know why, but he does. If you search for slippery elm on this forum, you'll get a lot of hits on it. You basically prepare it into a syrup and mix it in with the cats food. Or you can syringe it into their mouth (needle-less syringe of course).
     
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  6. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    @munch64, thank you for the thoughtful post and for sharing Farley's history. My vets also suggested IBD as a possible cause. They gave us so many possible causes, I can't even remember them all! Frustrating to not have definitive answers. At the time, their main concern appeared to be ruling out an intestinal blockage (since that would be a life-threatening imminent concern). The big hairball appeared after all the vet visits. My cat eats poultry foods, with rabbit and lamb added occasionally. (no fish or beef) But I hear chicken can be an allergen.
     
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  7. daftcat75

    daftcat75 TCS Member Top Cat

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    Anything can be an allergen. The reason why chicken tends to be problematic is because it is the most popular protein in cat food. Just try to get away from it.

    Over-simplified: IBD is a process where inappropriate food ingredients and/or gut bacteria imbalance makes the gut more permeable. The leaky gut leaks undigested and partially digested food proteins into the bloodstream where they get recognized as invaders by the immune system. If you don't heal the leaky gut, any protein you feed can become problematic.

    Bone broth is rich is collagen and gelatin which will help heal and seal the gut. But you also have to look to what your feeding and eliminate the triggers that caused the gut permeability in the first place. This will be carbs, fruits, vegetables, starches, anything that isn't meat, moisture, or organs can feed the wrong bacteria which can increase gut permeability making any protein you feed susceptible to a reaction.

    About halfway down this page, there is the section title, "Treating IBD – Using an Introduction Diet". This will discuss how to heal and seal the IBD cat with a two week diet of meat or fish stock and bone broth.
    https://feline-nutrition.org/health/feline-inflammatory-bowel-disease-nature-and-treatment

    Most people skip this step and believe that changing food or maybe also suppressing the immune system with steroids is all that's needed to stop the IBD. If you don't fix the leaky gut, any novel protein or limited ingredient diet can become an allergen.

    Most "limited ingredient diet" foods aren't worth the ink on the label. A species-appropriate cat food should be meat, moisture, organs (sometimes called byproducts--not a dirty word!), and supplements. Anything beyond this formula is a potential irritant. Many of these LID foods include inappropriate ingredients like clay, fruits, vegetables, starches, peas, etc. Rawz, Pure Vita, Tiki Cat, even Fancy Feast Classic pates (none of their other lines) are all species-appropriate foods.

    Pretty much all dry food fails the species-appropriate test because they require some kind of grain or starch or vegetable protein to make it a shelf-stable dry food. They also lack sufficient moisture. So if you're feeding dry, that's the very first thing that needs to change.

    Action items:

    1. Reduce the dry until it's not in her diet anymore. Powder it up and make it into a topper for wet if she needs convincing.
    2. Pick up a bone broth from a pet store or if it's from the grocery store, make sure it has no onions, garlic, added salt, or seasonings.
    3. Make a meat or fish stock and make the bone broth and meat/fish stock a liberal and regular part of her diet over the next two weeks.
    4. Look at your wet food and see if you need to find a better wet food that conforms more closely to meat, moisture, organs, and supplements. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and starches don't belong in cat food!
     
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  8. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Thank you, @daftcat75, for this detailed info! I would like to get the bone broth, but I have not seen that for sale locally. I am conferring with the vets today about next steps. One of the vets previously mentioned endoscopy, but I feel like until a possible dietary issue is addressed, the endoscopy might be premature. My immediate goal is to get my cat Dusty stabilized and eating again.

    I am in agreement about the species appropriate diet, but my cats are not in agreement. LOL. I really like TikiCat and used it for a while, but Dusty, my finicky eater, will no longer touch it. I will look into all of your recommendations and see what I can get. I really appreciate it!
     

  9. daftcat75

    daftcat75 TCS Member Top Cat

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    Endoscopy w/ biopsy is used to determine the difference between small cell lymphoma and IBD. Either one will benefit from healing and sealing the gut. For bone broth, the Butcher’s brand has done a good job of getting itself into most pet stores. You can probably find it in the freezer section with the raw foods in Petsmart, Petco, and Pet Food Express. Even Safeway carries their brand in the meat section.

    Here’s their website. Their Where To Buy may be helpful.
    Butcher's Bone Broth

    Or you can make your own.
     

  10. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 4, 2019
    Thank you!
     

  11. munch64

    munch64 TCS Member Young Cat

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    I just reread this thread and saw in the post where you mentioned that Dusty had chewed on plastic bags. I think I missed that before. Our cat Gwennie (who had IBD that primarily manifest as vomiting) loved to chew on plastic. We had to become very strict about not leaving any out, because she would often ingest some and then vomit it. Packing tape was her favorite, but any soft or crinkly plastic would attract her. We discovered teeth puncture marks all over our shower curtain liner. She tended to do that more when her tummy hurt.

    If I were you, I would review a lot of the resources daftcat75 shared. I'd do bone broth and probiotics. And I'd give slippery elm like once a day or every other day mixed in food. It is mucilaginous and supportive of the digestive tract. (It's just not good to give it near the time of meds because it can interfere with absorption.)

    And then lastly, and this can be tough, I'd try to find a food that is good quality and has as few ingredients as possible. These are all things I wish I had done with Gwennie when we adopted her and her IBD was beginning (unbeknownst to anyone). (I didn't have a knowledgeable vet back then.) I tried a lot of high quality foods with her, but they all had so many ingredients. She vomited a lot and eventually became so sensitive that the only food that didn't make her vomit and refuse it was prescription Royal Canin PR rabbit food. It was hard to see her struggle like that. I only went to PetSmart for commercial foods, which was a mistake, because their selection was very basic. Pet Supplies Plus and Petco have so many more options--including Rad Cat.

    If you have a pressure cooker (like Instapot), broth can be made much more quickly, like in 30-45 minutes. Many grocery stores sell bones that you can use to make it. And it freezes nicely, like in an ice cube tray and then you pop the frozen cubes into a Ziploc and you have them available anytime.

    I really hope you and Dusty can get a handle on this and she feels better. Fingers and toes are crossed for you
     
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  12. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    I also have teeth marks on my shower curtain liner! I also have to be very careful about leaving thin plastic around, especially plastic bags, because of Dusty's pica.

    I have been looking for bone broth to buy locally, but can't find anything appropriate--not at the pet stores or grocery store. Guess I will need to get my crock pot out and make some.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  13. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Update:

    Dusty had an endoscope with biopsies on Friday, and we should hear the results of the biopsies this week. Vet wanted her on prednisolone immediately, so I agreed (a bit grudgingly, only because I wanted to wait for the results). The vet said she had some mild cobblestone appearance in the intestine, which might indicate IBD or lymphoma. Arg. Torture waiting for the results. I hope I'm not over-reacting with all this testing. She only had 2 symptoms: vomiting clear liquid or bile, and lack of appetite. I know that I need to be strong for her but I am rather freaked out.
     

  14. munch64

    munch64 TCS Member Young Cat

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    It is so hard to wait for the results. You have been really assertive at getting this evaluated and you deserve a pat on the back for that. As I think I said before, many vets would say that vomiting hairballs is not a problem or that they don't count as vomit. Now with the ultrasound and endoscope biopsy, you will have a better idea early on what's going on.

    I hope Dusty responds well to treatment! Fingers crossed.

    Edited to add: I recently joined the IBD Kitties Facebook page that is run by the IBDkitties website owner. It's a really active community and super helpful. I recommend joining there.

    Also, prednisolone is a pretty standard treatment for IBD and can be used in conjunction with chlorambucil for small cell lymphoma. You'll probably notice Dusty feel better quickly with it because it reduces inflammation. Usually they start you out on a high dose and if it works, your vet will have you reduce the dose and either go off of it or be on a maintenance dose.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019

  15. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 4, 2019
    I just joined IBD Kitties earlier today! Figured it would be a good source of info on diet, probiotics, etc., regardless of Dusty's results. Dusty doesn't seem any better on the prednisolone, but I think it's a low dose? When she got home from the endoscopy procedure (for which she had to fast), she was ravenous that one night--I have never seen her eat so much and meow for food repeatedly, probably because the vet had given her multiple medications for the procedure, including a Cerenia injection. Within a couple of days, her appetite dropped off the cliff. So we put her back on Cerenia.

    Adding: I ordered a case of Butcher's Bone Broth online. Expensive! I couldn't find any suitable plain bone broth locally. They all contained herbs, onions, etc. Not even Whole Foods, which had many brands, had anything pet friendly. The bone broth on the pet sites, marketed to pets, has turmeric and I don't want that. Frustrating. I might try making some in the near future, but I wanted some right away too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  16. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 4, 2019
    Adding:

    At every annual exam and every vet appointment Dusty ever had, I brought up her cyclical eating pattern that she has had her whole life. I even said that I suspected there was some underlying medical or health condition causing this eating pattern. And let me tell you, no vet ever expressed any interest at all in this, because Dusty was otherwise a healthy spritely cat, with no symptoms, and they dismissed my observation every time. Arg. My fault as her guardian for not taking action years ago. I could have, and should have, done some diet trials.
     
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  17. Bird

    Bird Thread Starter TCS Member Young Cat

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    Feb 4, 2019
    To close the loop: Dusty was diagnosed with IBD based on inflammation seen in her biopsy. There was also a spiral bacteria found in the stomach biopsy, but the vet didn’t want to give her an antiobiotic.
     
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