Cat vomiting episodes in a cat with urinary problems and heart disease

by Maura

Hello Dr. Neely,

My cat JD had a urethra blockage, was hospitalized, catheterized and came home after 3 days. I had to change his food to Purina UR to help eliminate crystals in his urine. He vomits at least once a day and sometimes twice. It is also hard to get him to drink water - so I'm adding chicken broth to the canned food to get more fluids in him. He is only urinating once a day.

I'm so worried about my cat. I took him to our regular veterinarian today, but she said he seems fine. All bloodwork while my cat was in the hospital came out fine except for him being slightly anemic and borderline low on potassium.

JD is 9 years old and also has feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. I'm so worried about him! Any advice you can give will be appreciated.

Thank you!

Dear Maura,

I am so sorry to hear of the struggles you are having with your precious cat’s health. Although I certainly can’t provide care for your cat from a distance, I am happy to provide some advice based on my years of experience with cats.

The food may not agree with your cat which may be causing the vomiting, and there are other prescription diets that address feline urinary health that may be worth trying. It has been my experience that Royal Canin’s Urinary SO prescription diet is superior in maintaining cats with prior urinary problems.

Also, it is not possible to get a cat to consume enough water on a dry food only diet, which it sounds as though you are avoiding. Your cat should be fed canned food only, preferably prescription diets for urinary health. Adding chicken broth actually isn’t the best thing for your cat when you are trying to address issues with urinary crystals, so if you must add moisture to your cat’s canned food, mixing in plain water would be best.

However, if you try a different prescription diet brand of cat food, you may find that your cat is actually enjoying it more. Keep in mind that canned cat food is almost entirely water, and it is actually a good sign if a cat on canned cat food only isn’t drinking excessively. This suggests that your cat’s kidneys are doing well.

If you haven’t done so already, you may want to explore different cat water fountains, as the running water often encourages cats to drink. You are correct in your understanding that water intake is important, especially for a cat with urinary problems, and cat water fountains really are the best way to help increase a cat’s water consumption beyond switching to canned cat food only.

If your cat is producing a large volume of urine, even if it is only once per day, this may actually be a good sign. Crystals, irritation, inflammation, and other feline urinary problems usually present with frequent attempts at urination with very little actual urine produced. So, even if your cat is only urinating once per day, if it is a large amount, this is probably a good sign.

In terms of your cat’s heart condition, you haven’t mentioned whether your cat is on any medication to control his feline heart disease. While there is no cure for cat heart diseases like feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, there are many veterinarian-prescribed medications that can control your cat’s condition and help prolong his life. Your veterinarian should have recommendations for the best medications to treat or manage your cat’s particular heart disease symptoms, and if your cat isn’t currently on medication, he likely should be and seeking a second opinion would be wise.

Staying on top of your cat’s heart condition is important, especially because cat kidney and heart health are closely related. Regular ultrasounds track your cat’s heart condition, feline heart medications, and regular exams at the vet are the best way to maintain a cat with a heart condition.

I know it is stressful, but you are doing well taking care of your kitty. Keep following up with your veterinarian about his various cat health issues, as you have been. Your cat can still live a long, happy life, despite his feline health problems.

All the best to you and JD,
Dr. Neely

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