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What Can I Give a Cat for an Upset Stomach

Picture of a cat on a chair

Cats are a bit more sensitive compared to dogs and other types of pets, meaning that you can’t just adapt the dosage of some human medications and administer them whenever your feline friend has an upset stomach. 

In fact, cats are known to have severe allergies to some drugs. So, even if you give your cat pet-appropriate medication, you still have to be cautious. However, if your feline companion has an upset stomach, there are some home remedies that you can rely on and that aren’t known for causing any problems. 

In this post, we’ll look at some of them and assess their effectiveness, but we’ll also discuss how you can make the difference between mild indigestion and something more severe, that might call for a visit to the vet as soon as possible. 

When can your cat get an upset stomach?

Stomach upset is a generic name for vomiting and indigestion, but also for diarrhea. It can be acute or chronic. In cats that don’t have a history of stomach upsets, mild indigestion characterized by vomiting can be caused by the following factors:

  • Eating something that blocks the animal’s stomach
  • Sudden diet changes
  • Hairballs
  • Parasites 
  • Eating something toxic
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Medication side effects

Digestive disorders can be caused by chronic disease, in which case the cat will get an upset stomach more often than not. But what is frequent and what is rare, in this case? To give you an example, a healthy cat that has a history of hairballs will most likely vomit once in a while, meaning less than once a week. 

If your pet starts to vomit or have diarrhea three to four times a week or even every day, it is considered a medical emergency and you have to take her to the vet right away. Besides the actual stomach upset, the cat could become dehydrated to the point that her life is in danger.

Chronic stomach upsets are caused by the following conditions:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Motility disorders
  • Severe intestinal obstructions

If you take your cat to the vet, the health problem will be diagnosed properly and your pet will receive the right treatment. However, if this is a recurring issue and it happens very rarely, you might be able to manage it at home. 

Keeping in touch with your veterinarian might still be necessary, in some cases, especially if you start noticing worrying symptoms such as your cat vomiting blood, for example. 

What can I do if my cat has an upset stomach?

While many of the following home remedies are effective and safe, you should still be cautious and use your common sense. As such, take note of the cat’s general health status, whether she is under treatment for a chronic condition, if she’s a kitten or a geriatric cat, and anything else that might tell you that a visit to the vet is the right way of going about things. 

Kittens can’t go without food or water for more than 24 hours. In fact, some of them have to be fed once every two to three hours, which can give you a clue as to how fast they can become dehydrated and lose their life. 

Fasting

Giving your cat’s stomach a bit of a break can be a solution, especially if they feel tempted to eat even if they don’t feel too well. This happens especially in cats that have hairballs. Some of them will get back to the food bowl right after vomiting.

Ideally, you should not allow your cat to eat for a period of about twelve hours. Don’t worry, half a day of fasting isn’t going to affect your cat, especially if she is otherwise generally healthy. 

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t restrict your cat’s access to water, however. Cats can become severely dehydrated, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun or outdoors, if they are too young, or even if they are too old. Furthermore, a cat that has a history of kidney problems should always have water at her disposal. 

If your cat wants food but you can’t give any to her, you can use bone broth or strained soup, instead. The idea here is to eliminate solid food for a period of time. 

A bland diet

After a 12 or even 24-hour fast, you can start feeding your cat food again, but be wary of commercial varieties or any food that might cause another stomach upset. Boiled chicken breast, chicken and rice, or boiled hamburger (without the fat) are several examples. 

A bland diet is usually fed for at least 3 days until you are reassured that the cat isn’t at a risk of experiencing other digestive problems. If you don’t want any headaches, you can simply boil lean meat and give your cat that. The water in which you’ve boiled some rice can be added to the meat, too, since it has digestion-regulating properties. 

Hairball remedies

Since some cats are known to have digestive issues caused by hairballs, you can use cat laxatives to ensure that the hairball is released through the feces, not through vomiting. You can also use a little butter for the same purpose, if your cat doesn’t refuse dairy products. 

In general, regular grooming can at least prevent the cat from vomiting too frequently because of hairballs

Preventing stomach upsets in cats

Cats that are very curious and want to nibble on everything should be kept away from things like plants, thread, string, or tinsel. Feeding your cat a diet that contains fiber, not just protein, is the right way of preventing any stomach upsets. 

This effectively ensures that the cat will have a normal digestive transit. When it comes to what types of fiber, however, you should be aware of the fact that cats are carnivores, which is why only sweet potato and pumpkin are safe. 

Some commercial cat foods come with pumpkin in the recipe, but you can also add a small amount to your homemade cat food, if you make your feline buddy’s meals at home.  

When should you take your cat to the vet?

If you notice any of the following symptoms, take your cat to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

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