Hairball blockage?

Sonatine

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So I think Amelia (3yo female cat, otherwise very healthy) might have a pretty bad hairball. She doesn't get them very often (maybe once every few months) and I don't usually notice anything beyond some dry heaving, at which point it would pass one way or the other.

Well, this time it's worse. She won't (can't) eat or drink; when she tried this morning she threw her food back up almost immediately (tried her usual wet, as well as dry, which she loves but doesn't get often). She was making the hairball sounds yesterday but acted fine, so it wasn't until this morning that I started to get really worried. She even turned down salmon water after maybe a few licks.

I suspect that if she doesn't pass this thing today or tomorrow she's going to need to see a vet. But I want to avoid going to an ER vet if at all possible, which means waiting until Monday. Is there anything I can do to help her in the meantime (either to pass the hairball, or just to keep her hydrated)? Would syringe feeding some salmon water or wet food slurry maybe help?
 

artiemom

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Get a tube of Laxatone. They are available at all pet stores. I do not think you can wait, but you can also order it from Chewy, or any petstore.

I have been going through this with my guy. For some reason, it is a very bad shedding season for him. We were at the Vet this week, for this issue..

((hugs))

or you can try giving your baby some butter--on your finger, or even a bit of oil in their wet food.
 

Mamanyt1953

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A few drops of olive oil may get things moving...one way or the other, but DO NOT WAIT TOO LONG. If she hasn't eaten by Monday morning, she needs to get to the vet.
 
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Sonatine

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I'm gonna get some syringes tomorrow and try the laxatone as well. It's totally out of character for her to refuse her food, and she's refusing the salmon water I offered her again; she hides when I offer anything but at least she still came out to see me when I got home. That's something, I guess.

I'm really worried about her. I can tell she's really not feeling well. I'll see how she is tomorrow, I guess. She's not really even trying to throw up the hairball anymore. I've arranged for a friend to check on her while I'm at work, but I'm really worried about dehydration. I'll see if I can syringe some liquid into her at least.
 
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Sonatine

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An update: I broke down and took her to the emergency vet. My gut was telling me that she needed help and it was right. They're keeping her for observation, fluids, and anti-nausea medication right now. Her x-ray suggests she may either have ileus, or an obstruction. They'll repeat them tonight and decide whether to operate based on how those look.
 
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Sonatine

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They did the x-rays but there wasn't a vet available to discuss them with me last night so I'm anxiously awaiting a call this morning. The worry is killing me. I know it's probably just a big hairball, which is treatable, but I still can't help but fear the worst.
 
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Sonatine

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Followed up on the x-rays, and now they're thinking less obstruction and more ileus. I almost wish it was the obstruction because at least that has a clear cause and cure.

Ileus, though.... based on my clinical training in humans, ileus is a symptom, not a disease in and of itself. So now I'm spinning my wheels about possible underlying causes. But none of them really fit. She hasn't had surgery, hasn't been injured. No litterbox issues, weight loss, or vomiting, so I doubt IBD. The lack of weight loss and her age (only 3) makes me doubt cancer too. No ascites, so probably not FIP. Wouldn't expect to see diabetes in a young, non-obese cat fed only wet food, and she doesn't display any of the excessive hunger or thirst I'd expect to see if her blood sugar was off due to diabetes, either. Chronic kidney issues would be really unusual in a cat this young.

So... what's causing this? I'm getting labs done today before I go to see her, and hopefully they shine some light on it. She'll probably come home tonight because she won't eat there. Hopefully I've got some answers before I bring her home.
 
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Sonatine

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In case anyone is actually reading this, the labs were unremarkable. Not suggestive of anything besides a cat who's missed a few meals. So now she has an ultrasound for wednesday.

She's home for now. It's heartbreaking because I can tell she wants to eat. She tries. But the food comes back up almost immediately. Same is true of meds, on the off chance I can get her to take them.
 

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I have a cat with recurrent hairball problems and I have to either give her daily hairball remedy or put her out in my grass so she can munch on some greens. My cat was prescribed cerenia for appetite issues and it helped with appetite.
 
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Sonatine

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At this point I'd be relieved to find out it's just a hairball! The vets seem less convinced though. I just hope it isn't something really bad but that's starting to feel unlikely.

If it does turn out to be a really severe hairball though, she'll be getting regular brushings and hairball remedy after this.

Her appetite is actually not too bad, considering. She actually does try to eat. The issue is that she can't keep her food down. I try to give her the ondansetron she was prescribed, but it's hard to pill her and she tends to vomit it back up immediately. I got her to take a tiny bit of food last night which I think stayed down, though.
 

hexiesfriend

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She also may just be traumatized by the hospitalization. Just make sure she’s pooping. The hairball remedy will help pass it but in my experience the greens actually work better.
 

artiemom

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Sonatine Sonatine I have been following this very closely. I am currently going through something similar with my guy, Geoffrey.

Geoffrey is about 4-5 years old. He has stress/anxiety issues. He is designated short fur; but I believe he is medium fur.
This year, his shedding is incredible. I have only had him since Nov, 2018. He is a shedder, but nothing compared to this year. He hates to be brushed, handled. I think he was abused.. We have come a long way.

But.. Here goes. I took him to the Vet, a week ago, because pithing a 12 day duration, he vomited up huge furballs 7 out of 12 days. His appetite decreased and he lost some weight. This is when I called the doctor. During this time period, I was giving him periodic Laxatone.

The size of the furballs were incredible.. One was 6 inches long. I should have taken a picture of it.

A week ago, Monday, the Vet did a full work up on him: exam, complete blood test, urinalysis, x-rays, trimmed his nails, sub-q fluids.

The only positive results were the X-ray: showing an area which could be either: a foreign object, a large furball, or possibly an ileus.
Conclusion: Sent home with Proviable probiotic. If he did not turn around, hospitalization with constant monitoring and IV fluids needed.

I had a previous cat, Artie with IBD/Megacolon, and I was a medical worker.. so I am somewhat aware of things.

I made an appointment with the Specialist in Boston, for this week, Thursday.

I took Geoffrey home, got rid of his only chicken food. Now feeding him just Wet and Dry rabbit, which was what he had previous eaten, with some prescription W/D for fiber.. that contains chicken. I got rid of it.

I began giving him wet and dry rabbit to eat... he prefers the dry. anything at this point. I was giving him daily Laxatone. And daily brushings, which he hates.

The sub-q's have turned him around. He had not vomited any furballs in a Week! I was happy..

Was going to cancel the Specialist appointment; however, this morning, Geoffrey vomitied up another furball.. This time around 3 inches long!! Dam...

I guess I will be keeping that appointment..

Going to see if I can be reimbursed through insurance for the Vet visit.. wish me luck..

This is why I have been afraid of commenting on your situation. I am going through my own; although your sis so much worse. I feel for you..

Like you, I am wondering about the possible ileus diagnosis. I really think radiologists are using that term, as a catch all, for what they cannot diagnose.. Heck, I had that as a possible diagnosis for myself, when I had severe diarrhea.. I ended up with IBD.. and a bacteria overgrowth. I think it is just a catch-all.

My last guy, who did have a biopsy at age 12 had a constant ileus, also. So who the heck knows...

Could it be from constant scarring of the bowel walls from irritation? from a reaction to a food trigger~~ intolerance attack, where the cells lining that particular bowel area are causing inflammation, swelling? Is this the beginning of IBD? who knows...

sigh..

I am wishing you so much luck... Keep posting with updates.. ((Hugs))
 
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Sonatine

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I really don't think a hairball remedy alone is going to solve this. Her food comes up immediately after she eats it. The X-rays weren't entirely conclusive for obstruction, either, though the symptoms seem right. I'll go through with the ultrasound. I'll also pick up some higher fiber foods or hairball remedy, along with syringes and some meat only baby food and canned fish (she's willing to at least lick that!). Maybe if I can crush her antinausea meds and syringe them into her, it'll keep the nausea at bay long enough to try fiber. If she's pooping it isn't much, but she's only had a few bites of food since Friday so that on its own isn't surprising.

As for fluid therapy... when they rehydrated her in the hospital and gave her IV nausea meds and I came to see her yesterday, she was clearly feeling better! Purring, exploring around the room. And she explored a bit once at home. But now she's almost as bad as she was when I took her to the hospital again. Clearly nauseated and miserable. I thought she'd be more comfortable waiting for her ultrasound at home with me, but I'm starting to think that that depends on whether or not I can get her ondansetron into her.

Millie doesn't have a particularly remarkable hairball history. She gets them occasionally, but they're not huge, or even very common. No history of digestive or litterbox issues before this either. She was fine other than a little hacking Friday night, and then suddenly was unwell saturday morning. It was like flipping a light switch. The rapid onset is part of what makes it so bizarre. This isn't a cat with chronic health issues. Her x-ray didn't show anything suggestive of fecal impaction either... it was just the stomach distention that was off. I know that serious GI problems (up to and including cancer) can also occur in young cats... but it would be very unusual.

artiemom artiemom : I agree about ileus. In humans, it's almost always a symptom of something else. Ileus itself is literally just a slowing or stopping of the bowels. It's often associated with anesthesia after surgery but doesn't usually occur spontaneously. So something must be causing this. The vets agree on that much even if they won't hazard a guess about what that cause might be, hence the ultrasound. Good luck with Geoffrey, too. I hope that both of our cats recover soon.
 

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If it does turn out to be a really severe hairball though, she'll be getting regular brushings and hairball remedy after this.
Even if the current problem turns out not to be about hairballs I still recommend brushing daily and/or malt paste daily. They don't have to cough up a hairball every time there is a hairball-related problem so "doesn't cough/throw up hairball often" really isn't a reliable indication. They might also constipation/hard stools for example, and like humans sometimes one problem triggers the other and things get worse.

Did the blood test show any infection? Also did they test for intestinal worms, is this something they suspect of?
 
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Sonatine

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So, Millie is actually feeling a little better! She was still pretty bad the night I brought her home, but by the next night she was able to eat a small amount even though she was clearly still not feeling well. She was also a little more active and hiding less. Of course, she didn't want much to do with me since I had to bathe her after she peed on herself in the carrier, but at least she wasn't quite as miserable.

She had her ultrasound today, and unfortunately it was still somewhat inconclusive due to gas in her stomach. However, it showed some inflammation in the duodenum which could be suggestive of pancreatitis or possibly obstruction. The vet is leaning towards pancreatitis right now (apparently it doesn't always cause abdominal pain, which is why I had informally ruled it out earlier). They did a test that is fairly good at detecting pancreatitis and we'll know the results tomorrow.

If it is pancreatitis, then supportive care will see her through: small, frequent meals, plenty of fluids, and nausea meds. If not, then obstruction becomes the most likely cause and exploratory surgery is probably the next step.

... let's hope it's pancreatitis, then. Also, they gave (sold) me a pill gun! So I can actually get her to take her ondansetron without her spitting it out in secret. They dosed her while we were there while showing me how to use it, and so she was able to eat her dinner without any issues.

MissClouseau MissClouseau : her bloodwork showed no signs of elevated white blood cells, which makes infection unlikely. She also was afebrile. But I got some hairball paste and when she's eating a bit more normally I'll be giving her some, as well as brushing more frequently. She's shedding like crazy right now anyway.

*edited to fix a typo
 
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Sonatine

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Ugh my pill gun efforts failed. Miserably. And she was super pissed about it, too. I was so close after wrestling her, and trying to get her mouth open... and the pill gun jammed a bit and didn't release her pill.

I'm gonna try crushing the tablet and adding it to water/tuna juice next and syringing it into her. It won't be as easy for her to spit out a liquid med.

On the bright side, she did eat twice this morning, even without the ondansetron keeping the nausea at bay. She gagged a bit but kept at it. And she did scratch the chair with vigor (with how sick she's been I don't care at all and even petted her while she did it) and jumped up to the mantle above the fireplace. So she's not feeling too terrible. But last night I got a few small meals into her and then she was back to being miserable and hiding by late evening.

The symptom severity seems to fluctuate. If it is in fact pancreatitis, I'll ask about a pain med, since that might make her more comfortable. If it isn't... well, we'll see. Labs should be in today.
 
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Sonatine

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So many updates!

Well, it isn't pancreatitis. Which leaves obstruction.... or something else entirely.

She's actually not doing too badly. She's eating, I finally got some of her zofran into her. Gagged just a little but less than before and she seems tired but generally alert. The vet doesn't think that we need to jump straight to surgery if she's recovering at the moment; if it were a full obstruction she'd be sicker so it may just work itself out. We're gonna watch and wait for now.

I really hope this doesn't end up being a chronic thing. I never wanted for poor little Amelia to be the cat who constantly returns to the vet with problems nobody can seem to identify, until it ends up being cancer or something awful like that. Might consider booking her an appointment with a cat-only vet to follow up. We'll see.
 

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My first cat had GI lymphoma, she was 14 when diagnosed. Her only symptoms were 3 hairballs a month, vomiting and really stinky poo. I was shocked to find out that carrageenan can cause stomach irritation and can even lead to IBD/lymphoma. Sadly I think thats why my girl got it. Have you done an ultrasound? If she still isnt better I would recommend it.

Have you looked in raw food? There are completely balanced raw that is even aafco based as some people dont believe the ratio diet even with proper protein rotation is balanced, which I get. It can really help with hairballs and vomiting though. I have 3 longhair cats, 2 who are almost 2 years old, one that is only 9 months old. But they are all on a mainly raw diet. Namely because my boys were picky with their food, had very stinky poos to. On raw Jethro has not had a single hairball since 7 months old, and Fynn only get ones every few months. And that's with not even brushing every single day. The odd vomiting every now and then but it's cause they are brats and sometimes eat stuff they shouldn't.. sigh.
 
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Sonatine

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My first cat had GI lymphoma, she was 14 when diagnosed. Her only symptoms were 3 hairballs a month, vomiting and really stinky poo. I was shocked to find out that carrageenan can cause stomach irritation and can even lead to IBD/lymphoma. Sadly I think thats why my girl got it. Have you done an ultrasound? If she still isnt better I would recommend it.
We did the ultrasound and it was somewhat inconclusive. I guess she had some gas in her stomach which obscured the view, but it showed some possible inflammation around her duodenum, which could have been pancreatitis or some sort of obstruction between stomach and intestines. The vet did not see any signs that would be suggestive of IBD or a GI lymphoma (not surprising; she's only 3 and doesn't normally have vomiting or diarrhea, and even hairballs are rare), which was good to know.
 
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