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petdrz, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 7350
Experience:  Over 30 years of experience in caring for dogs and cats.
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I have an older cat about 12. He started throwing up s dry

Customer Question

I have an older cat about 12. He started throwing up his dry food on a daily bases about 6 months ago. I switched him to soft food and the past couple months have been pretty ok. Now he's back to throwing up every day. He used to be very big now He's very skinny. This past year he also had some diarrhea w/blood present.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  petdrz replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thanks for trusting me to help you and Mickey. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 25 years experience and would be happy work with you.

This is a very common scenario in cats and it is likely that there is disease present. Most of the time with the symptoms you describe, the most likely location of the problem is the GI tract. Some cats have a low grade flare up of pancreatitis which can be a challenge to confirm as it is not always evident on routine bloodwork. Along with that, many of these same cats also have a degree of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or even slow growing intestinal cancer. Unfortunately, either of these can be present and there can be no other abnormalities noted on bloodwork, xray or even ultrasound, although these tests should be run to rule out other conditions that present with the same symptoms. There is a specific GI blood panel that can be requested and if abnormalities noted, can lend support to either pancreatic or intestinal disease. The only way however, to confirm the diagnosis is with a biopsy of the intestine. This can be done via endoscope, but is better performed with an exploratory surgery. The problem with this is that many cat owners are not willing to pursue the diagnosis by these means. It is for that reason that many cats are "suspected" to have IBD or GI cancer as the cause of their weight loss and vomiting once all of the other easy to find things have been ruled out.

I suspect that may be where you are at with Mickey. If that is the case, I would start with thorough physical examination by your vet and some baseline bloodwork including a thyroid test as well as a GI panel (measures for things called TLI, PLI, cobalamin and folate). If that is all normal, I would have an abdominal xray and/or ultrasound. If the cause is still not identified, you can discuss with your veterinarian the pros and cons of proceeding with a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis in his situation. Even if you choose to not go the route of biopsy, he may benefit from a course of corticosteroids and perhaps a hypoallergenic diet as sometimes food allergies contribute to the IBD. There are other medications and supplements used to manage IBD as well. Steroids help many cats with either of the two conditions to regain control their symptoms and gain weight, but if there is intestinal cancer, the result may be short lived. If cancer is confirmed with a biopsy, he may do better with other chemotherapeutic drugs to put him in remission for a longer period of time. If the cause is IBD only, you may be able to decrease or even stop the steroids after you see improvement. Biopsy and confirming the diagnosis is always the better choice, but not always feasible for every case.

Here are a few links you may find informative.

intestinal lymphoma

inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

feline pancreatitis

I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have ANY other questions. My goal is to give you 100% satisfaction and if you are not yet satisfied, please reply so I can clarify for you.

Dr Z

Expert:  petdrz replied 1 year ago.
Hi Dana,
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Dr. Z.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Dr. Z
I took your advice and am trying hypo allergenic food. So far it's good.
Thank you for your help.
Expert:  petdrz replied 1 year ago.

You are welcome and thank you for the follow up. That is great news. Just a note of caution, while there are many limited ingredient diets or "hypoallergenic" available there is no industry standard for what that means and many on the market are not really that limited at all. On top of that, many brands on the market, when tested, were shown to be contaminated with other protein or grain sources than were listed on the label. If Mickey appears to have a diet related GI issue, and you run into problems with the vomiting again, you may need to switch to a prescription brand, like Hills d/d or Royal Canin or even a hydrolyzed protein diet to conduct a food trial. Good luck.