Home Remedies for Your Cat's Upset Stomach
Vomiting and upset stomach can happen for various reasons. It can either be something that happens once and never happens again or it can be a recurring problem.
Your kitty may have developed a tummy ache from slurping that bit of milk you just offered after breakfast.
It could also be that she cannot tolerate that new cat food you just brought her, or maybe she simply eats too fast. Hairballs are also notorious causes of vomiting.
If the upset stomach is a one-time thing, think about the following possible causes:
- Sudden diet change (very frequent cause)
- Eating something that blocks their stomach (like string or another object)
- Medication side effects
- Eating something toxic
- Disease like pancreatitis
- Viral or bacterial infections
If your cat seems to have recurring vomiting and upset tummy, one of these might be the cause:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Metabolic disease (hyperthyroidism, kidney failure, liver failure, etc.)
- Motility disorders
- Many other causes
It cannot be repeated enough that in some cases, vomiting may also indicate serious issues such as intestinal obstructions, kidney disease, internal parasites, or even cancer. Any of these would obviously require prompt veterinary attention!
If your cat has an upset tummy but is still bright and alert, home remedies may be helpful.
When the stomach is upset, nothing helps more than giving it some rest. This is what a cat does in nature. He loses his appetite for a few hours and eats only when he feels better.
In domesticated cats however, canned or dry food left out may be too enticing with all the stuff they are filled with to make them extremely appetizing.
Therefore, it is best to simply pick up all cat food and put it away for 12 - 24 hours. During the fast, make sure they have plenty of water to drink to prevent dehydration.
Cats should not go more than one day without eating, however. So be sure they start eating after the fast ends.
You could also try giving them less food since occasionally eating too much or too fast is a cause of vomiting.
While adult cats can fast for up to 24 hours, small kittens should not be fasted for so long. Usually a overnight fast should suffice, or no more than four hours during the day.
If the cat has vomiting, diarrhea, or both, he may be losing a lot of fluids. A good way to monitor a cat's hydration level is to pull up the skin over the shoulder in a tent and see how quickly it springs back into position.
In a well-hydrated cat, the skin will spring back immediately, but in one with dehydration, it will have a delay or worse, remain lifted.
In such cases, the cat is in critical condition and will likely require some fluids to be administered by a vet.
Fluids must be given carefully. In some cases, drinking water may cause a cat with an upset stomach to vomit, further dehydrating him. Giving the cat ice chips to lick may help.
Unflavored Pedialyte can be given via dropper very slowly to cats that are at risk of becoming dehydrated.
However, a cat that cannot hold water at all should be seen by a vet.
After the 12 - 24 hour fast, cats with upset tummies should be put on a bland diet. This is often fed 4 - 6 times a day for 3 - 7 days.
Bland Diet Options
- For cases of acute gastroenteritis, veterinary nutritionist Stanley L. Marks suggests feeding boiled hamburger (with the fat poured off) and rice, cottage cheese and rice, or chicken and rice in an approximately a 1:4 ratio
- Just boiled chicken or hamburger
Cats that are not interested in food may be enticed to eat if they smell some good food cooking. Try to boil some chicken or fish and often, your cat will sniff the aroma and get hungry. If this does not work, try warming up the food a bit.
Cats that do not eat for more than one or two days may risk a serious condition known as ''fatty liver disease." Therefore, it is important that they eat something even if this means force feeding at times.
Veterinarians often may prescribe appetite stimulants for cats that don't want to eat. A product called Nutrical is available at most pet stores and can be given to provide some temporary caloric support.
If the cat is not diabetic, rubbing some pancake syrup on its gums may give a little boost of energy.
This is a good time to check the gums and make sure they are still the nice pink color they are supposed to be. If the gums appear pale, whitish, grayish or anything other than healthy pink, it is important to have the cat seen by a veterinarian immediately.
If the vomiting is due to hairballs, products such as Laxatone may be helpful. As an alternative, just a little bit of Vaseline or other kind of petroleum jelly may be put on the cat's paw to be licked off to help pass the hairball.
Other options are to use some oil from a can of tuna fish, some plain canned pumpkin with no spices added (not pie mix), or a little bit of butter.
Regular grooming can also help prevent hairballs.
When the Cat Starts Feeling Better
Once the cat is no longer vomiting and the stools are better formed, the regular diet the cat was on may be re-introduced gradually over the course of 3 - 4 days.
Adding the normal diet too abruptly may cause a cat to go back to vomiting and having diarrhea.
While home remedies can help cats overcome a mild stomach ache, any cat that has lost its appetite, appears sluggish or in pain, vomits very frequently, or has uncontrollable diarrhea with a lot of fluid loss should be seen by a veterinarian.
There may be an underlying cause that needs to be taken care of. At times, this cannot be accomplished at home.
Also, please consider that bland diets aren't complete and balanced for a cat and they are not meant to be fed long term.
Disclaimer: The above article is not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your cat is sick, please refer to your veterinarian for a hands-on examination and professional advice.
Questions & Answers
My cat seems like she needs to cough up a hair ball, but is having trouble doing so. How can I help her?
Laxatone is a product often used to help cats with hairball issues.