Cats puke. Everyone with cats know this. Particularly after you buy new furniture, clean the carpets, etc. A great question a client recently asked is: how much is too much? Unfortunately, there is no black and white answer (is there ever in this field?).
Generally speaking, once a month is considered “acceptable” by most specialists. When it gets to once a week, or multiple times a week, then there may be an underlying problem. A recent study showed that almost 100% of cats who were “frequent vomiters” (more than twice a week) had some sort of digestive tract disease when their intestines were biopsied (sampled and exampled microscopically). Most often these diseases included food allergy, chronic pancreatitis, and/or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBS in people). These can be treated by adjusting diet, adding over the counter medication (like pepcid), or even feeding prescription food. Of course, if your cat was acting fine, then throws up 4 times in one day, poor kitty may be quite sick and should be seen by a vet promptly!
How to tell if the occasional vomit is hairballs? If you notice the gross stuff you’re cleaning up is mainly hair, then yes. If it’s food or liquid, then most likely more is going on than hairballs. If your cat throws up hairballs very often, talk to me about your grooming habits and feeding habits. Some over the counter hairball formula food helps a lot! Other cats do well with an OTC supplement such as laxatone – think flavored vaseline that makes everything sllliiiddde on through. Bottom line: the occasional hairball is gross, but OK. Anything more than one, maybe two times a month may be worth a discussion with your vet.