by Christine Santa
I’m fairly sure that no cat owner likes to see a pile of abhorrent cat vomit. An occasional lumpy, slimy pile of upchuck is inevitable, but how do you know when it’s time to call your veterinarian? It’s hard to be sure, but I recently experienced one of those times that required an appointment with my veterinarian.
I was sleeping blissfully one morning when suddenly I was woken up by the sound of retching. It was still dark in my room, so I shuddered at the thought of stepping in whatever was just spewed upon the floor. I skillfully made my way to the light switch without a hitch and found that Kally, my mother to 9 week old RagaMuffin kittens, had vomited foamy liquid without food or a hairball present. I thought it a little curious since this is not the normal presentation but went about my business of cleaning it up. Just as I finished, I heard yet another heave and looked to see her sitting in the litter box continuing to expel fluid. Kally then made her way into the spare birthing box in the far corner of the room, appearing to go to sleep well away from her snoozing kittens.
At this point I am wide awake and again cleaning up any sign of her illness; then I quickly moved the kittens to a different room to finish their nap. My obvious next move was to check on Kally. She definitely seemed a little off but did not seem to mind me palpitating her abdomen or moving her around at all. After a few hours with no improvement or movement, nonetheless, I took her to the veterinarian. We ran blood work and performed an x-ray to find that she had a very high white blood cell count indicating an infection and a sausage shaped figure in her abdomen that possibly was a problem. My regular veterinarian was short staffed but advised me that her opinion was to perform an exploratory surgery. We also discussed the possibility of pyometra, but nothing could be determined definitively.
I was referred to an emergency veterinarian and was seen within 2 hours. The doctor who looked at Kally agreed with my regular veterinarian and my sick baby went off for exploratory surgery. I was soon called and informed that Kally had an intussusception or telescoping of her intestine, which caused a blockage, and they had removed the section that was causing the problem.
Curious about how this could’ve happened to my sweet mother cat, I began to research. Turns out intussusception is fairly rare and usually occurs in an animal with chronic diarrhea, intestinal parasites, ingestion of a foreign body, or the presence of a tumor. Kally was clear of all of the probable causes and, in fact, I don’t remember her ever having diarrhea. I suppose it is a good thing that she did not have any of the probable causes of intussusception because I would have more to watch for and worry about with her, but I still can’t help but wonder, “Why?”
Kally is doing well at 3 ½ weeks post surgery. She is back to chasing her kittens and eating normally. One thing I’d suggest (if you ever have a mother cat that gets abdominal surgery) is to purchase a Suitical Recovery Suit for cats. I obtained one from Amazon and it allowed Kally to be with her kittens right away without the worry of them pulling at the stitches or trying to nurse. So, although we all hate to see cat vomit, it is sometimes a sign of serious illness and may be the first clue that you need to take your kitty to the veterinarian.