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

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

The unwell cat

Thursday, January 19, 2017

   Cats often don't give us many clues that they are ill. Perhaps they miss a meal or hide in the cupboard. Perhaps they look for a cuddle; or perhaps they want nothing to do with you. Some will vomit or have diarrhoea. The occasional one will show pain by hunching over or curling up and wanting to be left alone.

Many of these vaguely ill cats have pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas. The pain and nausea put them off their food. As cats obtain most of their fluids through their food rather than from what they drink they become dehydrated very quickly. The dehydration exacerbates the pain and nausea and so a vicious downward spiral continues.

Fortunately most respond to a drip to rehydrate them, and pain relief and anti-nausea medication. Within 2 or 3 days they are back to their normal selves. 

Pancreatitis is a very common complaint in middle-aged to older cats. If your cat doesn't seem to be her or himself call us sooner rather than later as cats often suffer pancreatitis silently.

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.

Pica or what did you just eat????!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pica is the abnormal appetite for non-food materials, such as wool, fabrics, cat litter, houseplants or licking concrete or stones.

It can arise as a behavioural problem or can be the result of an underlying medical problem such as anaemia.

Behavioural pica

Behavioural pica often is a long standing problem in healthy cats or in playful kittens. They are usually seen at a clinic for vomiting and reduced appetite due to an intestinal obstruction with odd objects, or toxic substances. Behavioural pica may also increase during times of stress (e.g. new pets and moving house).

Siamese and related breeds are particularly prone to fabric eating and this is often a chronic problem starting at a young age. It is presumed that there is a genetic component to the habit and , although incompletely understood, it is thought that the endorphin release the cat experiences makes the habit addictive. Some cases are very difficult to manage and consulting a veterinary behaviourist is highly recommended.

Pica due to medical conditions

Pica can be seen in cats with chronic anaemia or intestinal problems – they consume excessive amount of grass or plant material and consequently vomit, have diarrhoea or lose weight.

Grass/outdoor plant ingestion in cats

Grass eating is common in cats. The reasons for this is not fully understood but it is suspected that grass has some beneficial effects on the stomach and intestines, including easing nausea. Grass eating is not problematic unless the is also showing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea or eating a toxic plant (i.e lilies). Some owners grow grass on trays indoors for their cats to eat – this may discourage houseplant eating in indoor cats.

Empirical treatments

Steps can be taken to prevent cats from eating odd things:

  • Place wool, blankets and clothing out of reach or sight
  • Hide electrical wires or protect them with cord guards
  • Remove houseplants
  • Use non-clay based litter or placing only shredded/torn up newspaper in litter trays.

Behavioural pica can be challenging to manage; a thorough examination and consultation with a veterinarian will help rule out common causes and allow prompt treatment.

Cough or vomit?

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Siamese like Nicholas commmonly suffer from asthmaIt's easy to confuse coughing with retching or vomiting in cats. A coughing cat crouches, sticks her elbows out and opens her mouth to get more air. A vomiting cat sits with the front legs straight, her abdomen contracts and she produces fluid or food.

Many coughing cats have asthma or chronic bronchitis. Like human asthmatics cats with asthma react to something they have inhaled like pollen, cigarette smoke or dust mites. We saw several asthmatic cats during the recent bushfires when the smoke hung low around Canberra.

Cats with bronchitis have long term inflammation of the airways causing thickening of the small airway walls and reduced airflow.

Asthma and bronchitis often overlap in cats. In general, asthmatics have sudden episodes of difficult breathing, wheezing and coughing, while cats with bronchitis have more chronic but less dramatic coughs.

Infections of the bronchi and lungs make asthma and bronchitis suddenly worse.

Other causes of coughing in cats include inhalation of foreign material, such as grass or cigarette smoke, flu virus infections, lungworm, heartworm or lung cancer.

Once we sort out the cause of the cough with X-rays, bronchoscopy or other more specific tests, we target the treatment. For asthma and bronchitis treatment can be lifelong or as necessary.

Search Blog

Recent Posts


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


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