Throwing up once a night between 3AM - 6AM

theorangecat

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To preface, I do have a vet appointment lined up, but I wanted to see if anyone else had experience with this instead of going into the appointment blind.

My 10(ish)-year-old cat has been throwing up almost every night in the early hours of the morning. He does have some history with this behavior. A year ago -- maybe around July 2020 -- is when he first started this pattern. However, I started giving him Meowbiotics' Hairball Buster (basically probiotics and fiber) in like August 2020, and that stopped the puking right in its tracks. Its efficacy lasted about six months, during which he threw up maybe two hairballs and nothing else. That brings us to the beginning of 2021, when he started the early morning puking again about 3-5 nights out of the week. The Hairball Buster isn't helping anymore.

His puke isn't that bile-smelling type. It's just clear with some fur in it and occasionally some small particles of what seem to me to be undigested food. If I'm awake right before he pukes, I will sometimes hear his stomach making gurgling noises for a minute or two beforehand.

I took him to his usual vet in March, whose response to this was a physical examination and "well, some cats are just pukey." I promptly fired my vet of nine years and found another one.

In addition to this issue, my cat needed his teeth cleaned, so in April the new vet did whatever pre-anethesia blood work is done for senior cats as well as a urine analysis. Everything came back normal. She suggested that his stomach was getting too empty overnight and that the acid might be irritating and thus causing him to throw up. I didn't want to put him on acid blockers at that point, so the vet suggested breaking up his dinner into two meals, giving him one of those meals before bed.

I tried it for a week or two, and it didn't help. It also made him absolutely obnoxious about food because suddenly he thought any time of day was time to eat.

Then I had issues getting his raw food, and he was on just canned food for a week and a half. During that time he didn't puke once, so I thought maybe the raw was being digested too quickly, and I took him off the raw and put him solely on canned food. Unfortunately, it started back up again. So the canned food didn't stop it or decrease the frequency, but the puking window did go from 3AM-6AM on raw food to 6AM-8AM on canned. He would really rather have raw food, though, and has become increasingly finicky about the canned food. So I just recently put him back on mostly raw since it's not like doing only canned was actually stopping him from puking.

Through all of this, he has acted totally normal. Appetite seems fine. He's always excited about his treats. He has no issues eating even just five minutes after he throws up. He has only once thrown up during the day over the past year, and it was just minutes before he was due to eat dinner, and it was the same clear liquid/fur combination.

Now that the background's out of the way, here are my questions:

(1) To those who have had experience with high stomach acidity in cats, is that what this sounds like?

(2) Does this sound like something else?

(3) Are there any tests I should ask for?

(4) I'm worried about how it would affect him having to be on acid blockers the rest of his life. Does anyone have experience with long-term use of them in cats? Could they be used as a temporary measure and he be weaned off after a while?
 

suzeanna

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Could you try giving him a small snack at 3 a.m.? I know kibble are evil, but maybe 15 kibble or so? My 8 y/o girl would throw up (and/or become mischievous for food) in the hour(s) prior to her morning meal, even when I fed her late at night. The small overnight kibble snack in a timed feeder has really helped (although it took her a couple weeks to get used to the timing).
 
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theorangecat

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Could you try giving him a small snack at 3 a.m.?
That's a good idea I might have to try. He gets Orijen dry food as his "treats," and I feel like that one's at least on the less evil side of things haha. When I looked into timed feeders before I was like oh, but I wouldn't want wet food sitting in there for so long. Didn't even cross my mind to put dry food in it since he only gets it as treats 🤦‍♀️

What brand is the timed feeder you have? Are you happy with it?
 

daftcat75

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I would not use acid blockers. Cats need their stomach acid. Older cats do better with smaller meals more frequently. I used to feed Krista two breakfasts, two dinners, and put a meal split over two feeders (in case one failed to open) in overnight or daytime feeders. I recommend timed feeders for the canned food. Canned food can sit in timed feeders for several hours. I've set one to six hours and my Krista still readily ate its contents with no ill effects. Do not use timed feeders for raw food.

If this still doesn't help, I would get him an abdominal ultrasound to see if he has inflammation consistent with IBD rather than just an acid stomach.
 
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theorangecat

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I would not use acid blockers. Cats need their stomach acid.
This makes me feel better. I know long-term use of PPIs in humans is not great, and I figured it would be the same in cats and I really didn't want to go that route. It definitely sounds like I need to get a timed feeder to try it out and see if it helps. Thanks!
 

daftcat75

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Oh. I meant to paste this but got distracted. I like single meal clamshell feeders the best. Wheel feeders effectively enforce time limits on portions and rotate uneaten food back into the feeder where a grazing kitty cannot come back to them. My other recommendation is to buy them and use them in pairs. Simply split the meal across both and stagger their opening. In the hundreds (thousands?) of times I used these, they only failed to open less than a handful of times. But if the cost of not opening is an acid barf, then deploying them in pairs is a reasonable price to pay for that added reliability.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FT93YM2/?tag=thecatsite
 
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theorangecat

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Oh. I meant to paste this but got distracted. I like single meal clamshell feeders the best. Wheel feeders effectively enforce time limits on portions and rotate uneaten food back into the feeder where a grazing kitty cannot come back to them. My other recommendation is to buy them and use them in pairs. Simply split the meal across both and stagger their opening. In the hundreds (thousands?) of times I used these, they only failed to open less than a handful of times. But if the cost of not opening is an acid barf, then deploying them in pairs is a reasonable price to pay for that added reliability.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FT93YM2/?tag=thecatsite
Oh this is perfect. Cheaper than the wheel ones, too. Thanks!!
 

artiemom

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Yes, leave some food overnight... I leave dry food overnight... See what happens..
 

maggie101

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To preface, I do have a vet appointment lined up, but I wanted to see if anyone else had experience with this instead of going into the appointment blind.

My 10(ish)-year-old cat has been throwing up almost every night in the early hours of the morning. He does have some history with this behavior. A year ago -- maybe around July 2020 -- is when he first started this pattern. However, I started giving him Meowbiotics' Hairball Buster (basically probiotics and fiber) in like August 2020, and that stopped the puking right in its tracks. Its efficacy lasted about six months, during which he threw up maybe two hairballs and nothing else. That brings us to the beginning of 2021, when he started the early morning puking again about 3-5 nights out of the week. The Hairball Buster isn't helping anymore.

His puke isn't that bile-smelling type. It's just clear with some fur in it and occasionally some small particles of what seem to me to be undigested food. If I'm awake right before he pukes, I will sometimes hear his stomach making gurgling noises for a minute or two beforehand.

I took him to his usual vet in March, whose response to this was a physical examination and "well, some cats are just pukey." I promptly fired my vet of nine years and found another one.

In addition to this issue, my cat needed his teeth cleaned, so in April the new vet did whatever pre-anethesia blood work is done for senior cats as well as a urine analysis. Everything came back normal. She suggested that his stomach was getting too empty overnight and that the acid might be irritating and thus causing him to throw up. I didn't want to put him on acid blockers at that point, so the vet suggested breaking up his dinner into two meals, giving him one of those meals before bed.

I tried it for a week or two, and it didn't help. It also made him absolutely obnoxious about food because suddenly he thought any time of day was time to eat.

Then I had issues getting his raw food, and he was on just canned food for a week and a half. During that time he didn't puke once, so I thought maybe the raw was being digested too quickly, and I took him off the raw and put him solely on canned food. Unfortunately, it started back up again. So the canned food didn't stop it or decrease the frequency, but the puking window did go from 3AM-6AM on raw food to 6AM-8AM on canned. He would really rather have raw food, though, and has become increasingly finicky about the canned food. So I just recently put him back on mostly raw since it's not like doing only canned was actually stopping him from puking.

Through all of this, he has acted totally normal. Appetite seems fine. He's always excited about his treats. He has no issues eating even just five minutes after he throws up. He has only once thrown up during the day over the past year, and it was just minutes before he was due to eat dinner, and it was the same clear liquid/fur combination.

Now that the background's out of the way, here are my questions:

(1) To those who have had experience with high stomach acidity in cats, is that what this sounds like?

(2) Does this sound like something else?

(3) Are there any tests I should ask for?

(4) I'm worried about how it would affect him having to be on acid blockers the rest of his life. Does anyone have experience with long-term use of them in cats? Could they be used as a temporary measure and he be weaned off after a while?
[/QUOTE

To preface, I do have a vet appointment lined up, but I wanted to see if anyone else had experience with this instead of going into the appointment blind.

My 10(ish)-year-old cat has been throwing up almost every night in the early hours of the morning. He does have some history with this behavior. A year ago -- maybe around July 2020 -- is when he first started this pattern. However, I started giving him Meowbiotics' Hairball Buster (basically probiotics and fiber) in like August 2020, and that stopped the puking right in its tracks. Its efficacy lasted about six months, during which he threw up maybe two hairballs and nothing else. That brings us to the beginning of 2021, when he started the early morning puking again about 3-5 nights out of the week. The Hairball Buster isn't helping anymore.

His puke isn't that bile-smelling type. It's just clear with some fur in it and occasionally some small particles of what seem to me to be undigested food. If I'm awake right before he pukes, I will sometimes hear his stomach making gurgling noises for a minute or two beforehand.

I took him to his usual vet in March, whose response to this was a physical examination and "well, some cats are just pukey." I promptly fired my vet of nine years and found another one.

In addition to this issue, my cat needed his teeth cleaned, so in April the new vet did whatever pre-anethesia blood work is done for senior cats as well as a urine analysis. Everything came back normal. She suggested that his stomach was getting too empty overnight and that the acid might be irritating and thus causing him to throw up. I didn't want to put him on acid blockers at that point, so the vet suggested breaking up his dinner into two meals, giving him one of those meals before bed.

I tried it for a week or two, and it didn't help. It also made him absolutely obnoxious about food because suddenly he thought any time of day was time to eat.

Then I had issues getting his raw food, and he was on just canned food for a week and a half. During that time he didn't puke once, so I thought maybe the raw was being digested too quickly, and I took him off the raw and put him solely on canned food. Unfortunately, it started back up again. So the canned food didn't stop it or decrease the frequency, but the puking window did go from 3AM-6AM on raw food to 6AM-8AM on canned. He would really rather have raw food, though, and has become increasingly finicky about the canned food. So I just recently put him back on mostly raw since it's not like doing only canned was actually stopping him from puking.

Through all of this, he has acted totally normal. Appetite seems fine. He's always excited about his treats. He has no issues eating even just five minutes after he throws up. He has only once thrown up during the day over the past year, and it was just minutes before he was due to eat dinner, and it was the same clear liquid/fur combination.

Now that the background's out of the way, here are my questions:

(1) To those who have had experience with high stomach acidity in cats, is that what this sounds like?

(2) Does this sound like something else?

(3) Are there any tests I should ask for?

(4) I'm worried about how it would affect him having to be on acid blockers the rest of his life. Does anyone have experience with long-term use of them in cats? Could they be used as a temporary measure and he be weaned off after a while?
I also have a cat that throws up every morning from acid reflux spit and fur 6am. Totally identical to your problem and the steps you've taken except I have not used acid blockers. It has diminished since I feed her canned food with a timer 5 am,brush her every day,and give her laxitone. I also feed her canned 3x a day plus some at night
 
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theorangecat

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I also have a cat that throws up every morning from acid reflux spit and fur 6am. Totally identical to your problem and the steps you've taken except I have not used acid blockers. It has diminished since I feed her canned food with a timer 5 am,brush her every day,and give her laxitone. I also feed her canned 3x a day plus some at night
I do wonder if excess fur in his stomach is making things worse since the hairball supplement I gave him at the beginning really did help. He is very particular about his grooming, so I feel like he swallows a lot more fur than an average cat. His timed feeder came today, so I'll see if that helps! Thanks for replying. It's nice to know that someone else has gone through the same thing and been able to lessen it!
 

maggie101

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I do wonder if excess fur in his stomach is making things worse since the hairball supplement I gave him at the beginning really did help. He is very particular about his grooming, so I feel like he swallows a lot more fur than an average cat. His timed feeder came today, so I'll see if that helps! Thanks for replying. It's nice to know that someone else has gone through the same thing and been able to lessen it!
My vet said even though it's just spit and fur it is still a hair ball. She is a major cleaner. After brushing wipe her with a warm towel since she will clean herself afterwards. In a way,you are lucky to have one cat. I have 3 that will eat others food so I make myself get up at 5 and open thier timers
 

maggie101

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Also laxitone should be given hours after they eat. Not right after or before. I bought a tube called cat Lax to try. The consistency is not as thick so it's easier for my cat with a smooth toung.
 
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theorangecat

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Just an update in case anyone else stumbles across this while looking for answers. I got him a timed feeder and have been giving him 15-20 pieces of dry food between 1:00-2:00AM. It's been 9 nights so far, and he's only thrown up once, and that was when the feeder didn't open until almost 3AM. Thanks to everyone who gave advice!
 

daftcat75

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Just an update in case anyone else stumbles across this while looking for answers. I got him a timed feeder and have been giving him 15-20 pieces of dry food between 1:00-2:00AM. It's been 9 nights so far, and he's only thrown up once, and that was when the feeder didn't open until almost 3AM. Thanks to everyone who gave advice!
I recommend deploying the feeders in pairs and staggering their openings to cover more time and also protect against future failures to open.
 
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