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

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

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