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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21419
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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Hi there, I have a 9 year old short haired, female neutered

Customer Question

Hi there, I have a 9 year old short haired, female neutered cat (will be 10 in July this year). She has a cat flap and goes in and out at leisure, because she has always gone outside to do her business, I do not have a litter tray. I have only seen her heaving a couple of times in her life (I have had her since she was 6 weeks old) and never seen her vomit, although she may do this outside. Yesterday she seemed a bit 'out of sorts' for her and I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, although she didn't eat as much as usual. Today she has not eaten at all, which is very, very unusual. I have followed her usual routine for feeding, in which she always fusses round me, but today she was not interested at all. I went to fetch her but she didn't want me to pick her up and meowed loudly when I went to touch her, as if it hurt her somehow. I put her close to her food and water but she did not want to eat or drink and slowly slouched off crouching as if in pain somehow. It is 'baby bird' season and she has caught 2 small birds recently, the last one yesterday morning, she left the remains and I noticed only the heads were missing. She has not been out at all today and has been in her 'leave me alone' spot, which is normally only used when there are young children here. Nothing else unusual has happened, but she is definitely lethargic, doesn't want to be touched and not eating or drinking. Any ideas what could be wrong, could she have a piece of bone or something stuck somewhere, or what else could be making her act this way? I am very worried, your suggestions are very welcome.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

 

I share your concern about Lucy. All her signs point to a kitty that may have an underlying nausea or GI discomfort. This could be indirectly related to eating wildlife if she has a bacterial gastroenteritis or pancreatitis. Or this could be directly related, if she has ingested a sharp edged bone or eaten more bird bits then we know and caused herself an obstruction.

 

In regards XXXXX XXXXX here, I would say that our key factor here will be whether her meow was an "ouch" or a "leave me alone I feel rough". If you think she is in pain when you handle her belly, then we'd want her seen urgently by her vet. If you think she is just unhappy because she feels unwell (and as long as she has no paling of her gums or black feces), then you try some home supportive care fo rher first.

 

Now anorexia in cats with GI upset, nausea or discomfort, is not uncommon. Where dogs with GI upset will eat at the risk of vomiting, cats tend to just avoid the risk by going off their food. In her case, her anorexia tells us that something is inducing significant upset to put her off her food. To address the GI upset and nausea angle, consider trying to settle potential nausea with an antacid. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to recommend are Pepcid (LINK) or Zantac (LINK). This medication of course shouldn’t be given without consulting your vet if she does have any pre-existing conditions or is on any other medications. Ideally, it should be given about 30 minutes before food to easy her upset stomach.

As well, you will want continue to try and see if you can get her eating (ideally once the antacid settles her stomach). Favourite foods are allowed as you have but also consider tempting her with a light/easily digestible diet. Examples of this would be boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled eggs (made with water and not milk), meat baby food (do avoid the ones with garlic powder in the ingredients) or there are also veterinary prescription diets that can be used here (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity.) You can offer small frequent meals for her (to discourage further GI upset and can offer them 20-30 minutes after you have given an antacid).

While this has not been going on for very long, I do want to note that we should always keep a close eye on water intake and hydration in cats. Since she is an older lass she will not have the body reserves she used to have and therefore needs to be monitored closely. To check her hydration status to make sure she is not becoming dehydrated there are a few things we can test at home. One is whether the eyes appear sunken, if the gums are tacky instead of wet/moist, and whether she has a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these parameters for dehydration, you can find a wee video on this HERE. ( They use a big dog but it makes it easier to see and the principles are exactly the same) If you are seeing any signs of dehydration already, then you do want to have your kitty seen by her vet before this gets out of control.

Overall, if you think Lucy's belly is painful, then I would not delay having her seen by her today. But if you think she is just feeling rough, then you can try the above supportive care to settle her stomach. Still any progression in her belly discomfort or if she doesn't settle or shows any further GI signs then that would be the point we'd want to have her vet involved. The reason we want to manage this proactively is because cats were not well designed for the anorexic lifestyle. When they are off their food, body fat is broken down and released into the blood stream, causing their liver distress (ie. hepatic lipidosis) that can make getting them better even more difficult for us. So, if we are struggling to get her to eat over the next day or so, you may need to be proactive, consider having her vet check her over (to just rule out any obstruction concerns) and potentially treat her with antibiotics, anti-nausea/vomiting medication by injection and even appetite stimulating drugs if necessary. Depending on the findings, the vet will be able advise you on what is likely our culprit and what can be done to help stop her aversion to eating properly and get her back to normal.

 

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Dear Dr B, thank you for your detailed reply concerning my cat, Lucy. She did not improve for the rest of the day and didn't eat or drink anything. She did not go out and hence did not toilet all day neither to pee or to have have her bowels open, this I know as there were no 'accidents' anywhere. I was so concerned that by 6.30pm I called her vet and arrange to take her in to see him. This I did and she was seen at 6.45pm. Happily he examined her and assured me she did not have a blockage anywhere, which was my greatest worry. He did find that she had a problem in her throat and had swollen glands, also had a VERY full bladder as she had not emptied it all day. He gave her an injection of antibiotics and some for me to administer once daily either in her food or directly depending on whether or not she was eating. Also after she had been examined she did empty her bladder, sorry to say, she was still in the surgery when she did this and this was probably as a result of the examination, regardless, I was very happy to see this too. I am relieved that there is nothing seriously wrong with Lucy and she is a lot better this morning. She did want to go out today but as it was raining she sat by the door and her cat flap and kept looking at me and, spoiled as she is, I got my coat on and carried her out to the hedge in the garden which is always dry underneath and is Lucy's favourite outdoor spot. She was out for about an hour in which time I assume she toileted. Thank you for your help yesterday, I just had to let you know that Lucy is ok and on the mend. With kind regards-Lucy's adopted 'Mum'.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
Dear Lisa,

You are very welcome and thank you for your update on wee Lucy. I am very glad that she wasn't in pain and that your vet didn't find anything sinister to cause us worry. And while she may have wet the vet, I can say that we would always prefer that happens rather then have kitties who perhaps cannot go. So, Lucy may have been embarrassed but it is no worry there. Anyway, I am glad to hear she is much improved today and on the mend.

Take care & a great evening to you both,
Dr. B.