Q: I have a cat that is at least 10 years old; we’re not sure of his exact age because we adopted him. Until recently he has been fine. Now he seems to clean himself constantly and is throwing up daily. We thought his cat food was too hard for him so we switched to wet food. That didn’t help. Sometimes he vomits a furball, but mostly it is just food. He seems to always throw up at night. Should we be concerned, or is he just getting old and that is what senior cats do?
A: The fact that he cleans himself constantly and throws up daily is certainly suspicious for this being a hairball problem. You could try brushing him more often, using a hairball remedy such as Laxatone or Petromalt, and/or feeding him a “hairball control” type of diet and seeing if the frequency of his vomiting decreases.
If you don’t see any improvement, you should take him to your veterinarian for an examination and some basic diagnostic tests. It is not normal for any cat to vomit on a daily basis. Senior cats are at increased risk for metabolic disorders that can cause vomiting, such as chronic kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. If blood tests rule out these common illnesses, it may be that your cat has a primary gastrointestinal disorder, such as inflammatory bowel disease, food allergy, or gastrointestinal lymphoma. Additional diagnostics, such as abdominal ultrasound, or endoscopy may be necessary to secure a definite diagnosis.