Regurgitation in cats is very different than vomiting, as there is no nausea and it does not involve any type of abdominal contractions in your pet.
It is somewhat confusing in that it is not an actual disorder or a disease, but instead it is a symptom of various types of diseases.
It may look innocent on the surface, but it can be extremely dangerous to your cat if it is not treated.
If it becomes serious, it can cause your cat to begin to lose weight, develop a breathing problem, and also develop into one of the most disturbing conditions you will even hear in your cat; coughing.
Coughing in cats is never normal, and it is a sign that something may be terribly wrong.
What Is it?
Regurgitation in cats is a backward flow of fluid, mucus, or undigested foods. In most all cases, it will appear to be totally effortless, but this can be very misleading.
It in itself is not a disorder of any type, but rather a symptom of some type of esophageal disease that is affecting your cat.
Because of this, it should be treated very seriously and not simply brushed off as your cat eating to rapidly.
It will be very important to watch this condition very closely in your cat, and then try to determine exactly when it happens after your cat eats.
The timing is critical in helping your veterinarian in understanding the location of the esophageal disorder, the degree of the possible obstruction, as well as the condition of any dilation.
A dilation of the esophagus is very important as it may be present at the time your cat regurgitates, or it may play no role at all.
Regurgitation in cats may happen immediately after eating if your pet has developed lesions of some type and it is causing an esophageal obstruction.
However, it may also be totally unassociated with eating.
When your cat’s esophagus is dilated, it becomes enlarged, and this creates a reservoir for both food and fluid that may be regurgitated.
There is also one other symptom to watch for, and that is how much of the regurgitation is fluid as compared to solids.
If your cat regurgitates more solids than fluids, this is referred to as selection retention and it usually the result of a partial obstruction, which may not be as serious.
The actual cause of regurgitation in cats will fall into two distinctive categories; esophageal structural disorders and esophageal motility disorders.
Structural disorders will include some type of an obstruction from a foreign body, a stricture, which is the narrowing or tightening of the esophagus, or a vascular ring anomaly. A motility disorder usually involves some type of a motor dysfunction.
Regurgitation in cats can have several different causes, and the causes may or may not actually involve your cat’s esophagus.
There are several disorders that may affect your cat that will involve their entire body, and they will also have an effect on the esophagus.
This makes the actual regurgitation itself that much more serious, as it may be the first set of signs that you will see that there is something wrong with your cat.
The first of the common causes is referred to as Mega-esophagus, and is also referred to as an esophageal hypo-motility.
This is a set of conditions where your cat has a decreased, or even an absence, of movement that results in the dilation or enlarging of their esophagus.
It can be congenital, which means your cat was born with it, or it can be acquired as your cat ages.
The next cause is referred to as Esophagitis, which is an inflammation of your cat’s esophagus. This inflammation damages the tissues of the esophagus, and makes it very painful for your cat to swallow or eat.
It may also be the result of a buildup of stomach acids, infections, or the result of a recent oral medication.
Next is Myositis, which is an inflammation of your cat’s skeletal muscles, which are also called the voluntary muscles.
These muscles help control and move your cat’s muscles naturally, and are the result of some type of an injury, an infection, or an autoimmune disease where your cats immune system actually attacks itself.
The next potential cause of regurgitation in cats is called a vascular ring anomaly that causes both entrapment as well as compression in the esophagus, and is usually the result of something that is partially blocking it from operating properly.
However, it may also be chest tumors or masses that are compressing the esophagus from the outside, which is causing the regurgitation to occur.
It may also be the result of a hiatal hernia, which can be extremely painful for your cat and the first symptom that you will see is regurgitation.
This is an abnormality of the diaphragm that actually allows part of your cat’s stomach to become displaced in their chest cavity.
It usually starts out very slow, but can develop into an almost common occurrence.
Other potential causes of regurgitation in cats are what are referred to as a stricture, which is a narrowing of the esophagus itself. This is usually caused by inflammation or a foreign object such as a tumor that is impeding the normal functions.
The actual treatment will all depend on the actual underlying cause. The most effective treatments will come in the form of dietary modifications, where you feed your cat smaller portions, but more frequently, and with food that is very easy to digest.
You may have to test feed your cat with different consistencies that will range from liquids or gruel, to solids.
However, the solids should be in the form of kibbles, or small solids.
If it is a motility issue, there are drugs such as metoclopramide that will help to stimulate movement within your cat’s esophagus and help to promote all forms of gastric emptying.
In some cases, you may also have to use acid inhibitors such as Tagamet or Pepcid, but only on the advice of your veterinarian.
Regurgitation in cats at first will appear to be a very innocent slightly gagging effect that appears to no harm at all. But it can very quickly lead to severe problems such as breathing difficulties and coughing.
Coughing should hit any cat owner right between the eyes, as it is perhaps the most terrifying sound your cat will ever make.
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