Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm
BOOK ONLINE NOW!

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Furballs - or not?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

 

 

RIP Spunky

Spunky was a big boy and aptly named. He ruled the house and his carers' day centred on his every need - because he wouldn't let them forget his standards and requirements.

He often brought up a furball, so often that his carers just thought it was normal for him to bring one up every week or so. Six months ago it became more frequent and he started bringing up food as well. He seemed as bright, happy and demanding as ever so at first they thought nothing was wrong. After talking to us they tried out a few different foods, including a hypoallergenic diet, thinking that maybe something was interfering with his delicate digestion.

He vomited all the more and started to lose weight despite appearing normal. We tested him for all the usual causes of vomiting in cats - kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism - but everything came back normal. Something nasty was going on.

Dr John recommended biopsies of his stomach and intestines. His carers were reluctant to go so far and played with his diet a bit more. Eventually they decided that something must be done and he came in to hospital for an anaesthetic and investigation. Samples were sent to the pathologist.

The result was a diagnosis of low grade lymphoma of the intestines. This is the end result of chronic inflammation of the stomach and bowel.

The good news is that it can be controlled with low grade medication if caught early. Spunky lived another healthy 5 months, but the lymphoma spread to his stomach at the end. Many cats live much longer than 5 months. Some, especially if the lymphoma is advanced on diagnosis, have a more limited time to live.

If we diagnose the inflammatory bowel disease in the early stages we can prevent it from developing into lymphoma all together. Spunky's carers urge everyone to take notice of any 'furballs' or vomiting early on. Furballs are simply a sign that the stomach or intestine is inflamed - they are usually not because of the fur. If you see them more than once a fortnight, discuss it with your vet.

Furballs and vomiting

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Stomach and intestinal disease is so common in cats that many people think vomiting and ‘furballs’ in an otherwise healthy cat are normal.

 

Vomiting more than once a week, particularly if your cat is losing weight is NOT normal. Furballs are a sign of stomach or intestinal inflammation and should be investigated.

  

There are many causes of vomiting. The easiest to diagnose and treat is an intolerance to a particular food, usually a protein like fish, lamb or beef. If the vomiting stops when your cat is switched to a hypoallergenic diet then a dietary intolerance is the most likely cause. Once the offending protein has been identified you just have to avoid feeding it to your cat.

 

Cats that eat grass or other hard- to-digest plants frequently vomit. Preventing access to the grass may solve the problem but often they are driven to eat grass by an irritated stomach.

 

If a hypoallergenic diet does not eliminate the vomiting we suspect a more serious disease like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a gut cancer. IBD and low grade gastrointestinal lymphoma are quite responsive to treatment. Occasionally more serious cancers are found.

 

An ultrasound may show increased thickness of the stomach or small intestinal wall indicating IBD or lymphoma. Occasionally another problem like a partial blockage or a solid cancer is found.

 

Unfortunately ultrasound does not distinguish between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma. Biopsy samples of the stomach, small intestinal wall, abdominal lymph nodes, liver and pancreas obtained during abdominal surgery are the most accurate way of distinguishing them.

 

A veterinary pathologist looks at the biopsy sample under the microscope and determines if IBD or lymphoma is present and then classifies them. This information helps us make a treatment plan and predict the response to treatment.

 

Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by a chronically irritated stomach and intestinal lining. The inflammation is sometimes caused by an irritant in the food. Often the cat’s immune system overreacts to components of a normal diet. It is usually very difficult to identify the specific cause. The inflammation interferes with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Therefore cats with advanced disease lose weight and try to compensate with an increase in appetite. Treatment includes immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisolone, special diets and vitamin B12 injections. Often, cats get an initial short course of antiparasitic drugs and antibiotics to rule out other irritants of the intestine.

 

IBD is not a curable disease but proper treatment controls it and stops or slows the vomiting and weight loss. Overall, the prognosis is very good.

 

Low grade lymphoma is treated similarly but a low dose chemotherapy drug is added in. Many cats live for years with proper treatment.

 

If dietary intolerance, IBD or low grade lymphoma are left untreated higher grade bowel cancers may develop.

 


Search Blog

Recent Posts


Tags

old hypertrophic cardiomyopathy annual check furball pancreatitis lump abscess poisonous plants petting cat sore ears dymadon pet meat new kitten AIDS jumping appetite grass advantage conflict cryptococcosis love New Year's Eve Canberra Cat Vet virus scratching post nails toxic kidneys pain killer restless visit socialisation new cat snake bite return home panamax urinating on curtains or carpet heart disease discount head plaque fever face rub spey check-up radioactive iodine sensitive stomach twitching biopsy cat behaviour snakes skin worms flea treatment nose scabs vision gasping free body language learning sucking wool fabric vocal panleukopaenia poisons mince sudden blindness odour thyroid itchy microchip massage drinking a lot computer when to go to vet collapse Canberra scale depomedrol euthanasia skinny blockage introducing plants eye infection FORLS bladder stones adipokines runny nose furballs diet attack cortisone blocked cat food puzzles bite fluid pills sensitive marking mouth breathing pheromone kitten kidney disease rigid head hunter lilly ulcer enclosure open night information night cancer runny eyes feliway antibiotics rash painful string cat history spraying cat friendly diarrhoea lily examination prey revolution paralysis behaviour birthday sore eyes lilies hunting RSPCA panadeine hard faeces ulcers snot cat flu blindness sick cat obese tradesmen teeth panadol hairball urination eyes eye ulcer tumour scratch vaccine cage paralysis tick enemies polish aspirin best veterinarian prednisolone wobbles tartar herpesvirus desex introduction new year best vet allergy vet visit hiding dental treatment roundworm urinating change kitten deaths litter box weight loss enteritis best cat clinic tapeworm dementia activity pet insurance senior skin cancer best clinic aggression pred health check snuffles holes decision to euthanase training lymphoma pet paracetamol FIV allergy, feline enteritis cat enclosure sense of smell hungry mass kitten play thirsty blue gifts asthma yowling echocardiography blood test fleas lame thiamine deficiency feline AIDS fear hunters kidney holiday holes in teeth fat castration insulin outdoor cat urinating outside litter cat pain train hearing checkup fireworks liver mycoplasma touch corneal ulcer moving intestine desexing cough home visit hypertension renal disease snake heaing constipation dental foreign body grooming whiskers tooth blood pressure blood in urine dental check introductions tablet panleukopenia cystitis bump lick hunched over aerokat vomiting carrier blind abscess,cat fight permethrin obesity pill indoor cats rough play ribbon cognitive dysfunction blood opening hours physical activity dilated pupils hole rub off food inflammatory bowel disease eye litter kittens heavy breathing African wild cat catoberfest hospital senses behaviour change brown snake cat worms wet litter calicivirus rolls house call drinking more pain relief poisonous unsociable pica goodbye weight stare into space exercise fight groom crytococcosus worming hyperactive holidays hyperthyroidism arthritis tick appointment flea prevention urine snakebite cat fight antiviral diabetes cta fight wool urine spraying old cat introduce high blood pressure aggressive IBD cat enclosures cat vet kibble slow mental health of cats diuretics vomit client night on heat stiff photo competition weight control straining award spray sick flu scratching stress noisy breathing ACT meows a lot poisoning anxiety breathing difficult sneeze breeder vaccination snuffle changed in season anaemia signs of pain sun sore toxins bladder bad breath Hill's Metabolic poison christmas fits paralysed feline herpesvirus xylitol cat containment unwell home headache seizures ulcerated nose strange behaviour chlamydia dry food not eating overweight joints open day bed cranky competition comfortis salivation

Archive

A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

Get Directions