If your cat suffers from occasional, unexplained vomiting, diarrhoea, gas and/or periods of being off their food they may be suffering from a sensitive stomach. The causes of these passing ailments and ultimately their sensitive stomach can be wide and varied.
Causes Of Sensitive Stomach.
The most common causes of sensitive stomach are usually linked to their current diet, age, or overall health.
Their current diet might contribute to sensitivity if they are eating foods they are or have grown intolerant to. Many cats foods, especially dry foods, contain vegetable protein and carbohydrate to keep costs down and volume up. Cats aren’t really meant to eat large amounts of plant carbohydrates and they can, over time, develop intolerances to plant proteins and carbs or they may be intolerant of such ingredients right off the bat.
Other ways in which their current diet may contribute to sensitivity include eating too fast, overeating on portion sizes and eating foods that they shouldn’t. If food tastes good, is served at irregular intervals or they have to compete for meals with other pets they can end up eating too fast and regurgitating food. If your cat is a dry food eater they can easily overeat in volume – as the dry food hits the stomach it expands in wet conditions and forces vomiting due to space constraints. Maybe your cat is a dairy freak and can’t resist, with your consent, nibbling on cheese, milk, cream or other dairy treats. Such foods cause problems with cats as they aren’t developed to digest such foods so they give rise to all the classic symptoms mentioned earlier.
Age and health can play a part in the development of a sensitive stomach. As cats age, their diet has to change to satisfy the changing nutrient requirements of their bodies. Older cats struggle to absorb nutrients in the same way as they did in earlier life and often need “senior diets”. A lack of such a diet may lead to deficiencies that cause symptoms to arise.
Other health problems caused by parasites or hairballs may be potentially causing symptoms of a sensitive stomach. Of course, even worse underlying health problems like kidney disease may, in the early stages, be responsible for symptoms like being off food or vomiting.
How Can I Minimise Or Eliminate My Cats Sensitive Stomach?
Nothing is certain in life, but there are some positive steps you can take to minimise and hopefully eliminate Kittie’s stomach issues :
1. Get fully checked out by a vet – Make sure you eliminate any genuine health issues that might be causing symptoms. Your vet can carry out a full check, treat parasites, identify other potential problems and set your mind at rest before you start to eliminate lifestyle and diet-related issues.
2. A short fast – If you know your cat has no underlying long term health problems or is not being treated for a health issue that might have given rise to symptoms, then sometimes the answer to a stomach upset is to lay off the food for a while and let things settle down of their own accord. Cats can’t go too long without food so keep the fast short and sweet to a single 24 hour period. This will give foods causing the upset time to pass through and out and time for your cat’s stomach to settle.
3. Rehydrate – Poor hydration, particularly if your cat eats a dry diet, can cause problems with digestion. Try to rehydrate your cat by moving to wet food or using a cat water fountain to get them drinking more.
4. Feed them some bland food – Avoid dry food and foods with gravies. Start on simple boiled chicken and monitor the results as you introduce foods back into the diet. You may be able to identify problem foods as you go.
5. Come off dry foods – dry foods carry a host of issues including plant-based material that your cat might be intolerant to, portion sizing issues where food expands when wet causing vomiting and hydration issues that can cause problems with effective digestion.
6. Control mealtimes – give your cat space from other pets to eat so no food bolting goes on. Also, in the wild, cats eat small meals often rather than two or three meals a day. Try to replicate natural eating habits in a safe space and monitor the effects. Short, regular meal times can reduce overeating and fast eating so reducing vomiting.
7. Ditch dairy or foods cats don’t tolerate – Cats are lactose intolerant so dairy doesn’t work for a cats body even though they seem to love the flavour. Ditch such foods to reduce symptoms. Other foods you might not realise cause problems include raw fish and nuts, check you are not inadvertently feeding your cat the wrong things, even if they appear to enjoy them.
8. Move to an appropriate diet – If your cat is senior (over 7 years of age) and you are feeding normal cat food it may well be time to move to a “senior” diet. There are also cat foods specially formulated for cats with sensitive stomachs with reduced plant materials and contents selected for easy digestion that might better suit your cat. Check out some of the best cat food for sensitive stomachs available on the market – often the price is no different to standard foods.
9. Reduce hairball issues – hair in the digestive tract can cause irritation and make food digestion problematic. To ensure hair and fur are not the cause of your cats’ problems try to reduce the issue by regular grooming with brushes and if necessary, a diet to combat hairballs. Even short-haired cats can suffer from this problem so don’t be complacent!
If you follow these suggestions then through a process of change and elimination it should be possible to greatly reduce the symptoms of upset stomach in your cat and put your mind at rest.
Anthony Duggan has been a cat man for 30 years. He currently writes for Kittyinsight.com offering insight into cat behaviour, solutions to common cat issues and advice on products related to cats.