Overview of Vomiting in Cats
Gastritis is a general term used to describe inflammation of the lining of the stomach. The most common sign associated with gastritis is vomiting. Although signs may be mild and self-limiting in some cases, they can be debilitating and even life threatening in others, necessitating hospitalization and intensive supportive care. Acute gastritis is characterized by vomiting of less than 7 days duration. Chronic gastritis is characterized by intermittent vomiting of greater than 1-2 weeks duration. There are a variety of causes of gastritis, some associated with acute vomiting and some associated with chronic vomiting.
Causes of Acute Gastritis
Causes of Chronic Gastritis
There are some systemic diseases that can be associated with both acute and chronic gastritis. Those include kidney failure, liver disease, hypoadrenocorticism, neurologic disease and ulcers. Both dogs and cats can be affected and males just as often as females. Due to the increased potential for dietary indiscretion in younger animals, they are more likely to develop acute gastritis. Chronic gastritis can be seen in all ages.
What to Watch For
Diagnosis of Vomiting in Cats
Many cases of acute gastritis are short lived, resolve easily, and an extensive diagnostic evaluation is seldom required. Diagnostics should be performed in those individuals whose gastritis is severe, chronic, or are exhibiting systemic signs of illness. A thorough history and physical examination is of paramount importance prior to diagnostic evaluation.
Treatment of Vomiting in Cats
There are several things your veterinarian may recommend to symptomatically treat your cat. The principal goals of symptomatic therapy are to restore and maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, and to completely rest the gastrointestinal tract.
The primary recommendation is to withhold all food and water until contacting your veterinarian. Administer medication and diet only as directed by your veterinarian and observe your cat very closely. If clinical signs are not improving, and/or your cat is getting worse, have your cat evaluated at once.
In-depth Information on Gastritis in Cats
Gastritis is quite common in cats due to their indiscriminate (not selective) eating habits. It is not uncommon for a normal healthy cat to have occasional bouts of acute gastritis over the course of their life, especially if they are longhaired or have a habit of getting into the trash. As long as they are short lived and self limiting, we tend to consider these “normal abnormalities”. One must differentiate acute from chronic gastritis, as well as gastritis from regurgitation (the backward flow or effortless evacuation of fluid, mucus, or undigested food from the esophagus) as there are different diseases, diagnostics, and treatment plans for each.
In those cats who are otherwise feeling well, symptomatic therapy, to include removing all food and water for a specified amount of time and gradually reintroducing a bland diet, is generally curative. If the cat continues with signs of gastritis (vomiting, lack of appetite, nausea), despite being held off food and water, or if blood is present in the vomitus, it is important to seek veterinary attention at once. In addition, if your cat seems painful, in distress or sick in any other way, you should contact your veterinarian immediately as diagnostics, hospitalization and supportive therapy may be in order.
There are several disorders/diseases that can cause similar signs and may be confused with gastritis. These include;
A tentative diagnosis of acute gastritis is usually made on the basis of history and clinical findings, and no specific diagnostic work up is warranted. If the patient is not responding to symptomatic therapy, and/or the signs are severe, diagnostic tests should be performed. In cases of chronic gastritis, a full diagnostic work up is almost always recommended.
Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to ensure optimal medical care. These are selected on a case-by-case basis.
In cases of acute gastritis, symptomatic therapy is often the mainstay of treatment, as most of these cases generally respond quickly and thoroughly. These treatments may reduce severity of symptoms or provide relief for your cat. However, nonspecific therapy is not a substitute for definitive treatment of the underlying disease responsible for your cat's condition, which is the situation in some cases of acute gastritis and most cases of chronic gastritis.
Follow-up Care for Cats with Gastritis
Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your cat does not rapidly improve. Administer all prescribed medication as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your cat.
Discontinue/avoid any medication or substance that may be causing or exacerbating (worsening) gastritis. Depending on the underlying cause of gastritis, it may be necessary to return to your veterinarian for reevaluation of certain tests.