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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20907
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat suddenly developed diarrhea and throwing up. started

Customer Question

my cat suddenly developed diarrhea and throwing up. started late last night. is there something I can do before having to take him to a vet? He's impossible to get into a carrier.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Hopefully it didn't make a mess. Did your cat eat anything unusual?
Customer: I don't know. I have two cats, and the other one is fine. I changed their food over the weekend. I've taken in away to see if it makes a difference
JA: Is there anything else the veterinarian should be aware of about your cat?
Customer: He's been perfectly happy and healthy. He's about 6.5 years old
JA: What is the cat's name?
Customer: Piper. He's a grey and white tabby
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 9 months ago.

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

What does his vomit and diarrhea look like? Any blood?

Was it a quick diet change or did you wean them over?

Can he keep water down?

Are his gums pink or pale/white? Moist or sticky?

If you press on his belly, any discomfort, tenderness, or tensing?

Could he have eaten something he should not have (ie bones, toys, plants, chemicals, etc)?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Runny light brown diarrhea. Same with vomit.
It was weaned...mixed in with regular food.
He was drinking water earlier, but not sure.
He doesn't seem to react to me pressing his tummy.
Won't let me look into his mouth. He's alert and responsive.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
are we still online?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 9 months ago.

Thank you,

Now I am glad to hear that he is comfortable, but if you can even just lift his lip (as opposed to opening his mouth) or roll his lower eyelid down to check that his mucous membranes are pink (since pale/white is an urgent sign) that would be ideal. That aside, if you weaned him over to the new diet, then we'd hope that isn't to blame but if the switch just started so recently we do have to be wary of it being out culprit.

Therefore, we'd want to start supportive care for Piper in case that is the cause. Of course, we'd also have to keep issues like bacterial or viral gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, parasites/protozoa infections, general dietary indiscretions, and ingestion of harmful items (ie toxins, plants, non-edible items) in the back of our mind if we cannot get him settled.

With this all in mind, as long as he can keep water down, we can try some home supportive care to try to settle his stomach. To start, if he hasn’t just vomited (since otherwise we’d need to rest the stomach for a few hours first), you can consider treating with an OTC pet safe antacid [ie Pepcid (More Info/Dose @, Tagamet (More Info/Dose Here @]. Whichever you choose, we’d give this 20 minutes before offering food to allow absorption. Of course, do double check with your vet if he has a known health issues or is on any medications you haven't mentioned. Also if you give this and he cannot keep it down due to nausea that is usually a red flag that we need to bypass his mouth with injectable anti-vomiting medication from his vet.

Once he is more settled, you can plan to try small meals of a light/easily digestible diet. Examples you can use are boiled chicken, boiled white fish, or scrambled eggs, or meat baby food (garlic/onion free only) There are also OTC vet diets (ie Hill’s I/D or Royal Canin’s sensitivity) that can be used too. The aim of these diets is that they will be better tolerated/absorbed by the compromised gut. Therefore, it should get more nutrients in and result in less GI upset and less diarrhea. Fiber (ie canned pumpkin, 0.25 tsp metamucil mixed into canned food) can also be given +/- OTC feline probiotics (ie Benebac, Fortiflora) can also be used as the former will firm the stools quicker and the latter will support the gut's microflora. As long as improvement is being seen, I usually advise continuing this until the signs are settled, and then weaning slowly back to what you were feeding before. And once he is totally settled, you can decide if you want to try the new diet again.

Since dehydration is a risk with his having both vomiting and diarrhea, we need to keep an eye on his hydration. To check this and make sure dehydration isn’t an issue, there are a few parameters you can test. Further to checking for gum moisture, you will want to make sure his eyes are not looking sunken and that he doesn’t have a "skin tent" when you lift the skin. To see how to check these, you can find a good video HERE ( If you do see any of these signs already, then that would be our cue to have him seen before this becomes an additional issue (especially since its often dehydration that makes them feel unwell).

Finally, as long as there is no blood in those stools, you can consider trying a pet safe anti-diarrheal. As I am sure you appreciate, these would not be a cure for infectious issues; but it can still be of benefit. It will reduce diarrhea load, allow the body to absorb more water/nutrients, and soothe the upset gut. In regards ***** ***** options, the one we most commonly use is OTC Kaolin/Kaopectate (More Info/Dose @ Avoid Pepto Bismol or Imodium since those aren't cat friendly. Otherwise, Propectalin, Canikur, Fast Balance, and Protexin Pro-Fiber (which is available OTC at vets, pet stores, and even Amazon) would be another option. All will slow diarrhea and those last ones have the added bonus of providing support to the delicate good GI bacteria. So, these can be used as a short-term means of soothing his upset GI.

Overall, a wide range of agents could trigger the signs we are seeing but the diet change is one concern here for Piper's signs. And since that usually respond to supportive care, we can try the above for him. Of course, if he cannot keep that or water down, appears dehydrated already, or doesn’t respond to the above within 12-24 hours; then we'd want to get his vet involved. They can assess his hydration, rule out fever, ensure nothing in his stomach that shouldn't be, or any sinister viruses present. Depending on their findings, his vet can treat with injectable anti-vomiting medication, fluids, +/- antibiotics to settle his stomach and get him back feeling like himself.

Please take care,

Dr. B.


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