So my friend Kerri over at North Dallas Critter Sitters posted this picture today, lamenting the sad 2″ sidestep the cat had taken mid-hork. I immediately thought of all the awful places I’ve found cat vomit and disagreed with this thought, but then I realized cat vomit help is a great first blog post for my new site! Barfing cats! Who among us has not had this discussion with an unwitting and horrified friend?
Everyone knows there’s no worse sound, no more inspiring noise, no worse caterwauling than the sounds a cat makes right before it throws up all over your comforter/finely woven rug/furniture of choice. My cat Niko lets out this otherworldly howl, slightly reminiscent of the releasing of hell hounds and I know I have 1.2 seconds to get to him and get him off the carpet. That’s where he always is, the carpet. Never anything easily cleaned. I’ve had fosters hurl off the edge of my bed, hit shoes in the far corner of my closet, and one even found potted plants to violently eliminate unwanted stomach contents. Niko is my Steady Eddie, always looking for that one section of carpet that is right where I’ll be stepping in about 30 minutes. So why? WHY? WHYYYYY?
Cats throw up for a lot of reasons. One of the least understood is the Scarf and Barf (as seen above). This method of destroying your day is all about eating too fast. Cats are only domestic for about 7000 years, so as both predators and prey, they know they have limited time to eat their meal and skedaddle. Problem is, their food in the wild is usually mice, birds and bugs, which are tiny snacks compared to the giant mounds of food we dump in front of them. Want to stop the scarf and barf? Make it harder for them to eat fast by feeding small meals more frequently. Many people are surprised at my suggestion to feed more times a day. My cats eat 5-6 times a day, tiny meals of an ounce or less at a time. Why so many? Cats have very fast metabolisms so they’re hungry more often. Wonder why your cat is fat? Free-feeding is why most cats are fat. Cut down those meals and you’ll cut down the insta-barf and maybe some of that weight too.
Another reason cats vomit is hairballs. In today’s world, we’re subconsciously being given subtle hands-off messages about our pets, even with pet dogs. Cats are “independent” and bathe themselves, bowls refill themselves, use scented litter so your litter box doesn’t smell, hang this toy from the door to encourage your cat to play. Newsflash: You can prevent hairballs by brushing your cat. All you need is a hairbrush, a lap and 10 minutes a day. WHOA. You don’t need hairball medicine, hairball food or any of that other stuff manufacturers try to sell you. So if you’re noticing hairballs, set a phone timer to brush your cat. Your cat will love it and you’ll have less squishy stuff between your toes in the morning. (Disclaimer: I know there are potential uses such as in megacolon and other rare illnesses where hairball medicine and food may or may not be helpful)
I have an unscientific reason I’ve run across, particularly in cats who are unwell, but also in twice-a-day feeding households, which I tend to call the Bile Barf. I’ve seen this where, like dogs, and no I’m not a vet, cats go too long without eating and vomit bile or foam. These are often hardly noticeable, but they’re serious in my book. If I see these at a client house, I raise the alert. As a feline foster for diabetic cats, that’s an automatic vet visit after the first one for me. If you’re seeing this, and a vet visit hasn’t found anything, consider feeding multiple small meals a day. That’s what they do as wild cats.
Finally, I’d like to get down to some serious things. Sometimes people think vomit is just something a cat does, or it’s hairballs or scarf-n-barfs and nothing to be concerned about. It’s always something to be concerned about. When a cat vomits, it could be a sign of liver, kidney, pancreatic or digestive disorder. It could be a heart condition, or asthma or even cancer. Go to the vet. If the vet thinks allergies, consider a species appropriate diet, such as canned or raw. Check out Dr. Lisa’s site.
Don’t be mad at your cat, they feel like crap already.