Cat gastric distress and reining in the vet bills


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Cat gastric distress and reining in the vet bills

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

I have three one-year-old cats, all littermates. One of the girls, Mona, throws up from time to time; sometimes it’s just liquid. We haven’t discovered the cause, but it’s better since we switched to a limited ingredient diet. Sometimes I think its “scarf and barf” because it looks like undigested food. Other times, when it’s just liquid, we’re not sure. She’s still active and still eats and drinks. At the last visit to the vet, they gave her fluids and said she had a slight fever. They said it could be inflamed bowels and if it continues, they may have to do an abdominal ultrasound.

Her brother, Farley, eats, drinks, plays and is otherwise healthy. However, he frequently has softer bowels and diarrhea. All cats are fed dry and wet food. I know they say that wet food can cause softer stool, but can it cause diarrhea? Any help would be greatly appreciated. We’re deep in vet bills at this point.

– Gina, Pittsburgh, PA

Dear Gina,

Some pets are more sensitive to food than others and so any diet can cause gastric distress, depending on the pet’s sensitivity to the food. A limited ingredient diet can be helpful.

It can be distressing to have exorbitant vet bills with no answers and not knowing what to do next. I have always had a what I refer to as a “bottom-up” vet rather than a “top-down” vet. What that means is my vet is willing to try the least expensive thing first, rather than put my pet and my pocketbook through a host of tests that may reveal nothing. If the cheaper solution doesn’t work, then we move on to the big tests for answers.

So, ask your vet this question: “If we do the ultrasound and discover that my cat has inflamed bowels, what is the treatment?” 

Oftentimes, treatment is a diet change or a medication to reduce inflammation. If that is the case, then ask your vet if you can try those treatment recommendations first, before the big tests. I think that is a very reasonable request, as it won’t take long to see if the treatment works and it gives you time to think about how to pay for the ultrasound, if it is still needed.

Keep me posted.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal (aka The Pet Pundit), CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 35 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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