Need help with cat problem

catherinet(5 IN)June 10, 2008

Hi all,

Our cat is about 12 years old. He's had alot of throwing-up-fur-ball issues in the past several years. I bought some high-priced anti-fur-ball food from the vet for him recently, and mixed it with high-priced-weight-loss food. He continued to yark (throw up). Now I'm giving him almost all anti-fur-ball food and he's thrown up several times a day in the past 3 days.

Tonight, he projectile yarked a ton of bile-type stuff.

Now I'm getting worried its more than just a fur ball problem.

I've taken up his food dish, so he won't eat tonight. He does still want to eat.

What else should I do? Do you think this warrants a visit to the vet? the vet has always taken all this throwing up fairly non-nonchalantly. I bought some of that stuff you put on their paw, and they lick it off. I think its high in mineral oil and molasses, and that doesn't help much either.

What should I do?

I have a doctor's appointment in the morning, but if you think this is serious, I'll cancel and take the cat to the vet.

Is all this throwing up normal? Is the projectile vomiting normal? Is it possible there is a huge furball in his stomach that needs to be removed??



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Catherine, I am not a vet, so the only thing I can tell you is yes, you should take him to the vet. This doesn't sound like anything normal. Maybe some of the vets here can be more helpful. Glenda

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 8:53PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Well, I took him to the vet. He said his temp was marginally elevated, had no bloating and didn't respond to pain when the vet palpated his abdomen. He said it was probably a hairball. I told the vet that he seemed much sicker than that, but the vet said he just didn't have any other symptoms.
He gave him 3cc of mineral oil and told me to give 3cc of any oil daily for several days. And to only be concerned if he didn't show signs of improvement after 3-4 days.
I brought Kitty home and he's peed just once, but won't eat or drink anything today. He's very lethargic. I'm so worried for him. The vet said he'd never seen a cat need surgery for this.
I usually trust my vet, but the cat seems so weak and lifeless.
I think I might take him back tomorrow if he's not any better. I just have a gut feeling about this, and its scaring me. I hope I'm just over-reacting.
Can hairballs cause this much problem? I suppose he could also just have a stomach virus. We get pretty weak and lifeless with a virus....maybe cats do too???

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 5:14PM
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Catherine, I just wish Chicka or Sarah would come in with some insight on this. I have had some sick kitties in the past. I've had long haired cats, but never had any of them to have problems with hairballs. Is there any other vets that you could get a second opinion? I know vets can be pretty costly, but I would be worried under the circumstances also. Animals and babies come under the same heading with me, because they can't tell us what or where hurts. I had a siamese kitty once upon a time and he got very bloated and wouldn't pee. I took him to the vet and he had a kidney infection and was all stopped up. He litterally squeezed the pee out of him. Gave him medicine and told me to not give him dry cat food because there is too much ash in dry food. I never had any problems after that. I sure hope someone can find out what is wrong and help him to feel better. Please keep us posted. Glenda

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:55PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Catherine, I had to take my cat to the emergency vet today (my vet is closed on Wednesdays) for the same thing. We woke up this morning and the kitchen floor was literally covered with "bile-type" stuff - it was clear but had the consistency. The hall had eight areas where she had vomited food. When we got up she seemed okay, but shortly afterward she vomitted again and then was unstable on her feet and was lethargic. The vet did blood tests but didn't find anything and said she had a slightly elevated temperature, then gave her fluids and an antibiotic and told us to withhold food until tonight and then just give her a little to see how she did. She's walking steady but is still withdrawn and sleeping - but she did purr a little for me.

I really hope this isn't another pet food contamination.

I hope your kitty is doing better!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:01PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Oh jeanner, how STRANGE that your kitty seems to have the same problem! What food are you using? I had actually wondered about the food this morning, then forgot about it. I had recently opened up a new bag of Science Diet Hairball Formula.
Now I'm scared to give him any more of it!
I think I'll call the vet tomorrow and see if any others have complained about those symptoms. Surely he would have said something.
My SIL told me tonight that when her cats are sick, she opens up a can of tuna in water, and they love that....especially the water. So I got some out for my kitty, and gave him the water, and he drank it up! That's the most life I'd seen in him all day.
I'm mostly concerned with dehydration. He just won't drink water. I know we need to get forceful with him, but its so hard to see him so upset and struggling.
We are so isolated out here, its hard to think that he got some cat virus from somewhere. (He's an indoor cat).
I think when they start vomiting all that fluid/bile, their electrolytes can get out of whack and they can really dehydrate quickly.
Good luck to your kitty too!
Let me know which brand food you use........although it could be a contaminated part of the food, and show up in lots of different brands.
Do you have any tricks for getting fluid in them?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:32PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)


To get the kitties to drink more just top off the water dish. They find it fascinating! Water dripping from a faucet will attract many kitties to drink more too as well as those cat water fountains.

I'd take him back to the rDVM or someone new and **INSIST** on abdominal radiographs and blood work! Especially if he's lethargic! Don't take NO for an answer. If the rDVM doesn't want to budge ... kick 'em to the curb and find someone who takes your concerns seriously! Maybe there is an obstruction or he swallowed something odd like a coin.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:07PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Catherine, the kitties get the Iams adult formula and I just checked and it's not a new bag. And Bandit is fine. My first thought this morning was poisioning of some kind and I quickly looked around to be sure I hadn't left something out that would make her sick. I couldn't find anything except I did leave out the fresh batch of hummingbird nectar on the counter overnight. The measuring cup seemed a little low but I usually top it off after I mix in the sugar and couldn't remember if I had done that of not. Can sugar water make a kitty really sick? She is my escape artist but she hasn't been in the great outdoors in several weeks.

Smokey seems to be feeling better tonight. When Bandit gets her weekly hormone pill I crush it with tuna and they each get some in their own little bowls. Smokey has learned the sound of me getting the bowls out and when she heard me taking them out of the cabinet, she came running into the kitchen and jumped onto the counter. We had to start the "Get down or you don't get any routine" so I think she is feeling better! She ate hers (just a few spoonfuls) and so far, she's doing okay.

Thanks for the suggestions on getting them to drink C3D! Smokey prefers her water in a glass - she sticks her whole head in it and when it gets too low, she uses her paw. Hmmm, maybe she thought the hummingbird nectar was her "glass" of water???

I don't know but I hate that they can't tell us what's hurting!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 10:35PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi jeanner,
I'm glad Smokey seems to be feeling better.
Our kitty got a little more energy last night, but he still isn't peeing, so I think he's still pretty dehydrated.
I found him eating his dry cat food this morning, so I suppose that's a good sign. DH and I got 3 cc's of canola oil down him this morning.
When he threw up 2 days ago, there was a dead leaf in the vomit......but he always throws up dead leaves that he eats. They occasionally fall off my houseplants.
I can't think of anything he may have eaten. We do have a philodendron plant that hangs down to the floor, but its never been a problem.........even though Kitty eats any other flowers and plants we might accidentally leave too low down, and he gets.
Our cat fights so hard when we try to get anything into his mouth. I just wish he would drink more water.
I sure hope sugar water doesn't make them sick, because we tried to give some to our cat yesterday! I suppose a larger quantity might make them vomit and/or have diarrhea. Sugar can be really rough on the stomach, if you're not used to it.(like we humans are!).
Our cat has been having hairball problems, and this seemed to be just a drastic increase, but I am wondering if it was something different?? Usually with hairballs, he just throws up food and hair.......but this was just like your's.........ALOT of bile fluids.
What tests did your vet run?
LOL.......maybe I should offer my kitty a "glass" of water! That's so funny.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 7:25AM
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I'm so sorry to hear of the problems with kitties! I'll be thinking of you and hoping they get better soon!


    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:21AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks everyone,
Still no poop yet. He's been occasionally slurping up some tuna water, and pees just a little, and still very sleepy all the time. I just talked to the vet's office, and they said if he's not better by tomorrow, bring him in and they'll do xrays and labs.
I do trust this vet, and that's why I'm not going to another. Plus.....this is a 2 vet town and the other place killed my dog about 10 years ago, so he's definitely on my s**t list!
So everyone, please pray for poop. hahahahahaha

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:03PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Maybe he's got a megacolon and can't poop? Prayin' for poop!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:00PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

I just have the feeling its an obstruction. Isn't megacolon more of a congenital thing?
The vets office said he might need an enema. Surely they sedate them heavily for that? Will it be an H3 enema??
(That's what we called them in nursing school......"high, hot, and hell of alot!) haha
He just drank more tuna water, but then I realized how salty that is. But its probably not much saltier than saline......
Tomorrow early we'll give him another 3 cc's of oil, then by 11 if there's no poop, I'll take him in.
I've just felt that it was something worse than just a hairball in the stomach..........but we'll see.
I wonder what he's lacking in his diet that doesn't take care of these hairballs? Maybe not enough oil? He just never liked the gooey canned foods.
I'll keep you posted.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:45PM
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Praying for poop here, too, Catherine! Poor little guy. Owner instincts are usually pretty good, so I'm betting you're not far off.

It's just after 11am Eastern time! *nervous!!!!*


    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:08AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

The vet called a little bit ago and said that most of his labs were fine.....except his blood sugar is a bit elevated.......normal is 70-150 and our kitty's is 186. I'm pretty sure he didn't eat anything this morning.
Also, his xray showed a ton of poop, so they're giving him an enema. The vet said that he's sending him home with a bag of the Science Diet diabetic food. I guess its exercise time for Boooger. He is a very large cat. Like owner, like pet I guess.
I'll let you know later how it all came out, so to speak. hahaha

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 12:59PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

CD3........can you tell me a little more about megacolon?
They gave kitty an enema and got a bit out. The tech showed me the xray and explained how the colon was mostly impacted and enlarged right around what I think is the sigmoid. He said, "In light of the elevated blood sugar, we're wondering about megacolon".
I had asked the vet if the blood sugar could be elevated from dehydration or just stress and he said no........but the tech said maybe. it makes sense to me that stress hormones could cause some blood sugar funkiness......what do you think?
They were going to sell me a very large bag of Science Diet Diabetes formula, but I suggested that I come back sometime after things have settled down, and we check his sugar again. They said to come back in 2 weeks.
Why put him on a life of Diabetic Formula, if he doesn't need it?
I guess I need to get him more excerise, to help regulate his blood sugar too. How do you do that with an indoor cat??
We gave him a quick bath when he got home, since the thought of what he went through sort of gave me the heebee jeebies of what might be all through his fur! Unfortunately, he totally freaked and began panting so hard.....and I was afraid we almost killed him!!! It was so scary.
Anyhow.....he seems perkier, so I hope he's cured (at least for the moment).
One thing though.....the tech showed me 2 little spots around his stomach on the xray and said "this is a little disconcerting, since it might be something he string or yarn."
So I guess we'll just keep our eye out for more problems ahead.
How is Smokey doing jeanner?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 5:49PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Aww, poor Boooger! What a day for him - and you! I'm glad to hear he's perkier - how's he doing now?? It's a good thing you took him in, I would think that being "stopped" up could cause toxins to start building up. If it is string, would it have to be removed? We had a cat that got into my thread and she had to have emergency surgery but it was all wrapped around her tongue so it wouldn't allow it to pass and it got all tangled up in her intestines. I learned my lesson the hard way to not leave thread or string around.

Smokey is back to normal - she brought me a milk ring so we could play fetch and she's growled at Bandit twice today! This is the first time she's ever had to have any kind of medication and she is being a real stinker about it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:28PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)


First of all I am sooo happy your kitty is doing better! :-)

One blood glucose of 186 does not mean we are diabetic. If it was over 300 then YES. He may be in the *pre-diabetic* stage and some weight loss may resolve the glucose problem. He would need a urinalysis with massive amounts of glucose +/- ketones and an elevated fructosamine to confirm he's really diabetic. I would think that was a stress response but do have another blood glucose/urine glucose check soon. Is he drinking lots and peeing lots?

A **VERY** early indication of being diabetic is extreme sensitivity when the paws/feet are touched. They get the neuropathy of the extremities like people!

Megacolon? Basically there is a decrease or total loss of the peristaltic movement of the lower GI tract. That is to say the colon is not able to expel the fecal material and basically becomes a huge bag o' poop.

If it is caught early enough sometimes something like Enulose given daily will help with the problem and the kitty (or who ever) can continue to defecate. Another option is to give something like canned pumpkin for the added fiber source. If your kitty was simply impacted once .... maybe the enema will be the cure.

If it is advanced and there is a true megacolon, sometimes a radical surgery is required where-by the part of the intestine that isn't working is removed. The kitty may then experience loose stool forever.

Sometimes a surgery cannot be done due to various reasons. Then the kitty would need to be anesthetized and have the impacted rectum and colon digitally resolved every 2-4 weeks. We have had to go that last route with a few very aged kitties.

A true megacolon need more than an enema. The introduction of water and oil into the rectum will help soften the stool but since the colon cannot move the fecal material out, it needs to be manually removed. Once all that is in the rectum is removed .. whatever is in the colon is ~milked down~ and again digitally removed and the cycle continues until all the fecal material that can be removed is removed.

Usually either IV or SQ fluids are administered at the same time because these kitties are dehydrated. The longer poop stays in the colon and rectum, the drier it becomes because the purpose of the colon is to remove water to form a solid stool. If it stays in too long ... it becomes too dried out and is more difficult to expel ... especially if the muscles of the intestine are weakened or non-functional due to megacolon.

Science Diet prices will probably increase by 12% by July ... or at least that's what we were told by our delivery people due to the high fuel prices.

Lemme know if I can help you and yours.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:28PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks CD3 and jeanner.

Kitty is seeming much more comfortable. He hasn't eaten much, but is moving around a lot more, grooming himself, etc.
I just need to get him moving more on a regular basis. Any tricks to get an indoor cat moving more?? megacolon a congenital defect, or can it develop on its own later in life?
I just don't know how to make him drink more.
I've read many places about the pumpkin......but I'm not sure how to get him to eat it. He is so finicky. He only eats dry food, and if anything is added to it, he won't eat at all! Any suggestions?
The tech also said that hyperglycemia can go along with megacolon. How is that so?
Apparently the xray showed that there wasn't much in the GI track, except in the colon. I wonder why it would get so dehydrated there?
I have irritable bowel syndrome and can change from diarrhea to constipation in a I guess the same can happen in animals. Maybe its some sort of defect in the mucosa of that part of the colon, and it doesn't release enough fluid into the stool there like it should??
I'm so glad I don't have to give him medication next week. DH and DS are on a camping trip all week. Giving my kittycat a med all by myself would have been close to impossible!
jeanner, I'm so glad to hear Smokey is back to normal!
My focus this next week will be figuring out how to get a huge, lazy indoor cat to be more active! My son said "Just get Suzi (our dog) to chase him more!" haha
Thanks for your help everyone!! :)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 7:55AM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Megacolon can be congenital but I think it sometimes just develops later in life with some kitties. There may be a genetic predisposition to it. Topping off the water bowl is fascinating for cats. They'll drink more that way. Many kitties are attracted to moving water like dripping from a tap or one of those store bought kitty water fountains that keeps the water flowing.

Get one of those little laser lights to get him to run and chase after the light dot. Our cats **LOVE** when that little red dot appears on the wall. Rani and Daisy love it too! LOL!

If the colon is stretched because it is full of poop that causes pain and that may trigger a stress response of increased blood glucose. There may be a weakness of the nerves that tell the intestines to move or perhaps just a weakness of the intestines themselves and the peristaltic waves don't occur or they are not coordinated as they should be to move the intestinal contents farther down the tube.

The colon doesn't release fluid. It draws fluid out so the final product is a formed poop. If the contents sit there longer than needed ... there's more fluid drawn out and the poop can become hard as gravel from a parking lot. There's NO WAY that can be passed without help from the outside, as it were. :-)

Once all that hard huge impacted stuff is removed, if the colon is still kinda OK, the diameter may reduce to near normal and poop will be able to come out. If the disease is more advanced, the diameter of the colon will remain as though stretched and whatever contents enter will just accumulate like they did before.

Kinda like the difference between splicing a hose with a slightly larger diameter between sections of your normal garden hose or splicing the ends of a lawn garbage bag between. Stuff will flow through the different sized hoses but tend to pool in the huge garbage bag section.

If the colon is huge, then there needs to be either surgery to remove the dilated section or scheduled de-pooping under anesthesia every month.

Some kitties will eat pumpkin. Some won't. It isn't a guarantee that it would work either.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 8:23AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks CD3,
I'm envisioning the megacolon as somewhat similar to a chronic pendulous crop I had in one of my chickens. There was so much stretching out of it, that it no longer could propel the food out of it.
My kitty always seemed to poop regularly before, so hopefully, this is a one-time deal. I would imagine it would be good to keep things very soft for at least a week, to let the colon maybe get back into shape??
I was talking to some folks on my chicken forum, and one of the women said that they had the same problem........that the cat's blood sugar was elevated, and the vet told her it was diabetes. Well, she didn't want to believe it. So she went to another vet who suggested giving the cat a sedative before the visit, and sure enough, when the cat was sedated, the blood sugar was normal. (Of course, my hyperactive mind started wondering if the sedative falsely lowered an elevated blood sugar!) haha
I'm going to discuss this with my a sedative before the next blood sugar check up.

If this happens again, do you think I could give the enema? I should have asked them this, but how do you deal with giving a cat an enema? Do you give it to them in the litter box? Do they have maybe a big sink they do it in??
If I give dry food, would I mix the pumpkin in with everything, or just leave a wad of it in the food dish? How about pumpkin pie?? just kidding.
I've seen those water fountains and think that's such a cool idea. Are they battery operated? I fear between the cat and the dog, though, all the water will end up all over the house!
I hadn't thought of this..........we have well water... Maybe the cat just doesn't like the taste??
Thanks so much for your help and info CD3!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 4:19PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

If your kitty was poopin' fine before this incident ... chances are very good that this may be a one time thingy and he will be a normal poopin' machine and we never need to go through this again. Maybe just a little LAXATONE once a week .... ?. :-)

If your kitty becomes impacted, just an enema will not help. The stuff that is crammed inside needs to be digitally removed and this is better to be done under complete anesthetic! We do it on what is called a ~wet sink~ which is basically a huge sink and the patient is on a towel and on a grate. The poop that is manually removed is tossed into the garbage then tossed out.

I would not recommend mixing the pumpkin with the dry food but rather offer it as a *side meal*. Because your kitty likes dry food, he must drink more water just to soften the food and digest it. He needs to take a little extra to keep the bowels moving.

I think the water fountains are battery operated. You need to check the individual boxes to make sure. I know many people who are truckers and need to purchase bottled water for their pets while on the road. Maybe that is the route you need to take? Honestly dunno here.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 5:11PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks CD3!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 5:38PM
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One of my rescue kittens had megacolon and we did a few enemas and IV fluids. I also used Propulsid (sp) and lactalose which worked well. Also, a small amount of canned pumpkin. Propulsid is off the market now. This was 8 years ago and my cat is doing fine now but she has larger stools than the other cats. Another kitty from the same rescue litter had it so bad it died within hours of being rescued. Radiographs indicate the colon has returned to normal for the most part - resolved itself as the kitty grew. My cats self feed dry food and I give canned once per day mixed with extra water.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 10:19PM
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How's your precious kitty, Catherine? I sure hope he's doing better!

I thought of you when I saw this kitty water fountain the other day! :) My kitty would LOVE this.


Here is a link that might be useful: CatIt Drinking Fountain

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 3:18PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi Comettose and Brenda,
Kitty is just fine now! Its so good to see him making out with his favorite stuffed animal again. :)
I have started topping off his water dish now, and he DOES like it!
Thanks so much for all your help and encouragement!
I thought it was so sweet..the vet's office called the other day to check on him. Wasn't that nice?
Kitty says "Meeeooowwwww" to all of you!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 9:23PM
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chickadeedeedee(z 6-7 ish Ohio)

Glad to hear your kitty is a poopin' machine again. :-) Funny how the little things most of us just take for granted are the most important.

Meeeeeeoooowwwwwwwwwww right back at you, Boooger.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 8:31AM
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Yay!!! What a great vet! Big keeeeses for kitty!! Oh, to be his makeout partner...LOL


    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 11:26AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 11:56AM
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