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Vet Dr Sarah Elliott discusses causes of cats throwing up, what to feed an elderly cat and how to care for a cat with arthritis.

In our latest Facebook Q&A, vet Dr Sarah Elliott answered live questions from cat owners. Here are just some of the topics discussed:

My 19-year-old cat is throwing up almost everything she eats. What should I do?

It is a good idea to mention any vomiting to your vet as there can be a different underlying cause depending on whether this is true vomiting or regurgitation. If your cat’s diet has changed recently then this may be the cause. Any diet change should be made very gradually over the course of one week to reduce the risk of a stomach upset. There are lots of diets available that are specially formulated for sensitive stomachs.

ginger cat eating dry cat biscuits




Which types of food are recommended for an 18/19-year-old female?

She's mildly arthritic but otherwise in good health, with all her teeth!

There are many diets specially formulated for elderly cats – talk to your vet about which ones they recommend. Some even have joint supplements already added. As cats can be prone to troublesome kidneys, many vets may recommend a wet diet for elderly cats to help support their water intake. There’s more information on senior cats in our Elderly cats leaflet.


My cat has three legs and is perfectly healthy (the vet said so) but always has soft runny poo.

I feed her Sheba as she's so fussy she won't eat anything else but I worry about her as she is 12-and-a-half years old! What can I do? She won't eat senior food!

Cats can be fussy eaters! I'd recommend taking a tiny amount of her food out of the bowl and replacing with the new food you want her to eat. Then gradually decrease the old food and increase the new over a couple of weeks and hopefully she'll come to accept the change a bit easier. They can be stubborn but it is all about being even more stubborn in return!


My cat is overweight – how do I ensure he eats the right amount?

I recently took my Maine Coon cat to the vet for his vaccinations. The vet weighed him and said that he is overweight so advised he goes on a diet. We've cut back his food to the amount he suggested, but he always seems hungry. I just want a second opinion as I don't want to under-feed him.

Encourage your cat to play as much as possible. Microchip feeders can help limit how much food your cat can eat if your cats are microchipped. Feeding puzzles can be used when feeding your cat meals instead of using a food bowl. Food puzzles are available to order and Cats Protection has some great cheap options for home-made puzzles. Have a look at our Feline Crafty video guides for ideas:


My cat is a 14-year-old neutered male with arthritis – what care does he need?

He has joint supplements and anti-inflammatories each day but his back legs are deteriorating. He still seems to enjoy life. Is there anything else I could give him that might help?

It sound like he is in good hands with you! I don't think many people realise that arthritis affects many older cats. It is worth staying in regular contact with your vet as they may be able to rejig the medication if needs be.

Try to make his environment as easy on the joints as it can be – his litter tray should have low sides so he can easily get in and out, and his food and water bowls may need to be closer or add a few more so he doesn't have to go too far. You could add ramps to help him reach his favourite perches and sleeping spots. Also have a look at our arthritis info.


Why is one of my cat's teeth turning brown?

My female cat has slowly been developing a brown fang over the past few years – she has had to have her teeth cleaned twice – I’m just worried that she's going to lose it! Is there anything I could do to prevent further teeth decay?

If the enamel or dentine is becoming discoloured, there may be a problem on the inside of the tooth. I would get your vet to take a look as the first priority. You may find our Teeth and oral health leaflet useful too.


Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For more cat care advice, please see or consult your vet if you have a specific concern about your cat.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: talk to a pet bereavement specialist on 16 March; or chat with Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow on 6 April. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2pm. See you there!

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