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Re: Any non-invasive tests to diagnose impacted hairball?

June 22nd, 2005, 04:36 PM

My 10 year old cat, Mambo, has been vomiting very frequently (every two days) and I have taken him to the vet to have him checked out. When they did blood work, they said everything was normal but that one of the tests indicated a slight irritation in his tummy -- likely due to a hairball. He precribed Felaxin once a day for 7 days and then about 2-3x per week. We have been following this regimen but it doesn't appear to be working. I'm planning to take him back to the vet this week to have him checked out again but I wanted to empower myself first on this forum! Does anyone know if there is any relatively non-invasive test to diagnose if your cat has an impacted hairball in his stomach or intestines? I am wondering if the vet would be able to use some sort of camera or do some sort of colonoscopy or x-ray to determine this as I do not want to be faced with the possibility of surgery if an impacted hairball cannot be confirmed.


June 22nd, 2005, 04:39 PM
I dont know much about it but could it pass the hairball?
if you increased his fiber?

June 22nd, 2005, 04:41 PM
I am pretty sure they would take an x-ray if they suspect your kitty has an obstruction.
I've never had it done to any of my cats,but they probably need to sedate him.

June 22nd, 2005, 04:44 PM
I know they didn't take an x-ray the last time I took him -- I guess they wanted to see if it would pass first with the Felaxin before subjecting him to sedation and the x-ray. An x-ray should allow them to determine if something is obstructing him right? They always do this when humans swallow a variety of things.

Any suggestions on increasing his fibre? I keep reading about pumpkin.

June 22nd, 2005, 05:00 PM
I guess treat it as constipation got this from a doggy site but should be about the same for a poor kitty cat....
Hope it works,


If constipation is mild, not associated with other symptoms and doesn't last for 48 hours here are a few things you can do.

1.Feed your dog dry dog food. Dry dog food has more bulk than canned dog foods.

2.Water and bran (up to 5 tablespoons daily) added to the food may help.

3.You can try commercial preparations containing psylluim; (such as Metamucil) they are designed for humans and are sold in drugstores.

Metamucil dosage: 1/2 teaspoon twice a day to small pets and about 2 teaspoons twice a day to large dogs. Try mixing it with a small portion of canned food. Give your pet access to plenty of water.

4.Mix a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin with your dogs pet food for several days or until the constipation has ended.

5.Milk will sometimes relieve constipation. Give 1/8 cup twice a day to small dogs and 1/2 cup twice a day to larger dogs.

6.Mineral oil (1 tablespoon per 10 pounds) will sometimes relieve more severe constipation. Do not use this all of the time as mineral oil will interfer with the absorption of oil-soluable vitamins.

Mineral oil should only be put in food and not forced orally.

If your dog has reaccuring bouts of constipation take the dog to your veterinarian.

June 22nd, 2005, 05:07 PM
Thanks Angie. I think I'll just wait to see what the vet says because I don't want to change too many things at once -- then they won't be able to determine what the problem is. I'll ask the vet about increases Mambo's fibre and how much fibre I should be giving him.

Lucky Rescue
June 22nd, 2005, 05:15 PM
Lots of blockages do not show up in X-rays. Surgery is often the only way to find out what is causing the problem.

June 22nd, 2005, 05:47 PM
That's good to know. Thanks LuckyRescue!

June 22nd, 2005, 08:06 PM
Lots of blockages do not show up in X-rays. Surgery is often the only way to find out what is causing the problem.

Again LR is right on target, imaging diagnostics are great for certain purposes but not here. I have seen, (from experience) ..the hard top of a large 'kong' toy lodge itself in the intestinal tract of a sweet pit bull named Oscar. For over a year Oscar had seen the best, xrays were negative. We had him as a client for his last 4 months...we ran the course many times over too. By the time we took him into surgery it was a major sudden emergency, he died on the table, it became a necropsy. The kong top was inbedded and festered, half erroded by acids. The owners remembered when this happened, way back in Colorado. Even U of F missed this one, they treated Oscar for pancreatitis like everyone else, including our clinic.

He was such a cool dog but he could/would eat steel if given a chance. Now that would show up on a rad!

June 22nd, 2005, 08:39 PM
Thanks for the information Karin! I'll keep you guys up to date on what the vet says and finds. I know he hasn't eaten any toys or anything since they are all accounted for and he's definitely not the type to play with any of those types of toys -- just worried that he may have a massive hairball stuck somewhere in the digestive tract.

Thanks again.

Lucky Rescue
June 23rd, 2005, 09:33 AM
I know he hasn't eaten any toys or anything since they are all accounted for and he's definitely not the type to play with any of those types of toys

With cats it's impossible to know that. Cat eat very strange things like elastics, needles, tinsel etc.

Someone I know of had her cat nearly die after eating an ear plug, which was only found after surgery and after the cat was near death.

June 23rd, 2005, 11:25 AM
This sounds very familiar. My cat went through the same thing for almost a year. When we took him to the vet they did do Xrays and didn't see anything there, they felt around his stomach and didn't feel any large areas where a hairball might be. My cat would vomit about every day or every other day. They put him on prednizone for his stomach once a day and a soft food diet. Once he was on the soft food he seemed to do much better. Maybe try feeding him some soft food, sometimes it's easier on their stomachs. I have heard of a test where they have a human swallow a tiny camera (this test is very expensive) and it shows everything in their stomach area, but not sure if they have this for pets or not. good luck with this.

June 23rd, 2005, 01:40 PM

That is very interesting what you described-- sounds exactly like what Mambo is going through. And he is on a diet of dry food only -- and he never had this problem before when I would give him both wet and dry food. I think I will switch over to either wet food only or both wet and dry.

I know that prednisone is a steroid (my dog was on it once before) but what was the reason that they put your cat on it?

June 23rd, 2005, 03:24 PM
Lolachola,sorry I was so off the mark,I am glad Karin and Lucky corrected me.
I've not yet experienced anything similar with any of my cats(so far!).
I always believed it's better for the cats to eat their main meals as canned food and keep good quality dry for them 24/7.
Only dry food,your cat can be very prone to get UTI,especially a neutered male..

June 23rd, 2005, 03:38 PM
my old cat (RIP) ate an entire spool of thread. my mom pulled some thread out of her mouth, then she started acting weird so we got her to the vet - and surgery was required. the vet pulled out a spool's worth of thread that had wrapped around a few organs, etc... she was perfectly fine, the surgery went really well, and they untangled her - and she lived a LONG happy life, but we learned to keep the sewing basket closed.

as Lucky said, cat's eat strange things.

June 23rd, 2005, 03:53 PM
No worries Chico. Yeah, I shouldn't assume that my cat may not have an obstruction from a toy or something else that he may find laying around the place -- because although he is very picky with what he puts in his mouth, he does play with my pony tail elastics that fall onto my pillow at night while I sleep. He could have easily injested something like that.

Thanks for all your info you guys!

June 23rd, 2005, 03:59 PM

What kind of soft food diet did they put your cat on? I know that there are many brands of cat foods that are crap and I want to feed my cats the best! So did the vet determine that it was a problem digesting the dry cat food and that's why he was vomiting all of the time?

June 24th, 2005, 01:37 PM
Okay so I'm giving my cats wet food now to see if maybe Mambo was having troubles digesting the dry food. I have three cats: Small (2 yrs old), Medium (3 yrs) and Large (10 yrs) and all three of them eat out of the same cat dish. Any suggestions on how much wet food I should give them? I tend to be one of those cat moms who spoils her cat, giving her too much food because I worry that they might be hungry. I know this is just as bad as underfeeding. How much wet cat food should I be giving them, given that they all eat out of the same bowl? I'm giving them Friskies right now but after reading the great article on the top 10 wet cat foods, I am going to start buying one of the kinds like Natural Balance Ultra Formula.


June 24th, 2005, 03:47 PM
I like Wellness but I think any food listed as fit for human consumption and not stuffed with corn and junk is probably OK. I just read a site the other day that listed the best foods as well as about all the horrible rendering products that go into many cat and dog foods. Made my stomach turn!! (and brought up images of CJD, <shudder>

I agree re the obstruction. Even MRI's and scans (and many vet clinics have better scans that some small community hospitals) do not always show up obstructions in people. I can only assume - not being a vet - that this is also true for pets. A barium GI series is usually the best way - not sure what vets call what they do that is comprable but surgery is sometimes the only way. It actually was even for me personally when I had an ulcer. (Belueve me, I was quite thrilled to wake up in the ICU even with an NG tube and spending 3 weeks there to know it was just a doudenal ulcer that was hard to find - I live with chronic pain so did not even know it was there). Sort of like the old joke about lawyers hiring a fool for a client - doctors are no better it seems, lol Seriously. my suregon thought I had stomach cancer tho I did not agree, it being my specialty and all and he kept trying to fix the obstruction with a colonoscopy - relatively univasive as compared to a partial gastrectomy but I ended up with the gastrectomy. But I was a happy camper after surgery so you kow, the same may be true of your kitty.

June 24th, 2005, 03:55 PM
Thanks for the advise CyberKitten. Hey, if you happen to have some info on the rendering practices that go into the production of cat foods, I wouldn't mind seeing it. I'm a vegetarian myself and while I would never impose this lifestyle on my cats (because I know they are carnivores and need meat and I'm not one to impose the veggie lifestyle on anyone for that matter!), I would like to purchase cat foods that are produced using the most humane methods as possible. Any suggestions?

June 24th, 2005, 04:13 PM
I had posted an url the other day and of course now I can't find it, lol (I will look later and try to remember to post it). There was also an url that rated the best cat foods - I do believe it was in the section of cat feeding. Try this url first: There is mega info there

I am not a vegetarian but do believe cats need to be their carnivorous selves. <g>

Here is an article aboutr rendering:

I refuse to feed my cats (mine and two fosters) any beef products nor do I eat beef myself. I do like steak alas but the death of a loved one - a cousin - due to CJDvar was the most horrible death I have ever witnessed and I see death weekly so that is saying something!!! I would not wish that disease on even my worst enemy - if I have any enemies, lol Well let's just say even on Osama or Saddam or somone like that.

June 24th, 2005, 04:23 PM
Lola,I too have three cats and I would suggest you have three dishes,mine would never eat out of the same dish and it's very hard to know who is eating and how much.
As for canned food,there are several excellent foods,Old Mother Hubbard,Wellness and Nutro,just a few..
Unfortunately my cats like neither and are stuck on Fancy Feast,they each have a third of a can twice a day,I make up for it with good quality dry food always available.
But since your cats are not used to canned food,they might love the above mentioned cans,I would however get them each a dish..

June 25th, 2005, 01:01 AM

That must have been awful to see your cousin suffer with CJD. I definitely am not the type of person who would try to force my vegetarian lifestyle on others, especially my cats! I know the importance of meat in a cat's diet. Thanks for the article on rendering -- I've read some of that stuff before when I've read articles on mad cow and CJD -- it's disgusting!


Thanks for the advice on how much to feed my cats. I think I will use 3 separate dishes for them because I do find it very hard to monitor how much wet food each is eating. My cats actually used to be on a diet of primarily wet food and then dry food for free grazing and they are not picky! They will eat anything I put in front of them! Actually, today I went to Pet Valu and picked up Natural Balance Ultra Formula wet and dry food, based on the link on this site about the top choices of cat foods. It looks so much healthier for them -- it's actually a natural color and not that neon orange looking color of the other stuff they were eating. Before, I was giving them Purina Cat Chow Indoor Formula which was supposedly a 'natural fibre formula' that helps reduce hairballs -- but after reading the article on what to look for in good/bad cat foods, I looked at the ingredients and the first was CORNMEAL! The subsequent ingredients were byproducts and all of the bad stuff! When I bought it, I guess I thought that cornmeal wouldn't be bad for them but I'm glad I've learned otherwise. I hope this new diet will help Mambo out -- I'm beginning to think that maybe the food was hard for him to digest. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes!

Thanks again for the help!

June 25th, 2005, 08:58 PM
Hi Chico2,

So as I mentioned, I bought the cats Natural Balance wet and dry food. However, the recommended feeding instructions on the can indicate that for adult cats "Feed 1 Can Daily per 8 lbs. body weight." Since all three of my cats are above 8 lbs this would be that they should each get one whole can per day!!! This seems like an awful lot of wet food for them considering these cans are 170 grams (about the size of the smallest you can get in Friskies). Any suggestions? I am feeding them twice a day -- and was thinking of splitting one can three ways two times a day, so I would be going through 2 cans a day instead of 3. Does that sound okay?

June 25th, 2005, 10:00 PM
Lola,my 3 cats split one small can(70gr)twice a day,I never read feeding instructions,you know your cats and how much they will eat.
Mine very seldom finish what they get,so they are obviously getting enough,if not,they have dry food 24/7.But 170gr/day for one cat,is a lot of food,at least in my opinion.
I have two 13lb and one 16lb cat and neither is fat.

June 26th, 2005, 02:39 PM
Thanks for the advice Chico! Even if I split one of those 170 g cans amongst my 3 cats in the morning, they don't finish eating all of it. I'm a student and always home all day so I can easily give them a little wet food to eat and if I notice that they are still wanting more, I can add a little more to their dish.

Hey, Mambo hasn't vomited since I started giving him the wet food!!! I'm so happy! Maybe he was having a hard time digesting that cornmeal crap. I really hope this keeps up! :fingerscr

June 30th, 2005, 09:58 PM
Ultrasound is a good way & you can be with him to see or Xray as well . Hence how I found out my cat CJ has a Panciltis problem :)
:sick: :ca:

June 30th, 2005, 10:10 PM
:thumbs up Well CJ my cat with Panciltis he has been getting a shot of crosone every 2 weeks . We tried him on ID dty well he barfed it up on my newly cleaned rugs :(

So we keep him & his older sister on wet food (better fer her as well senstive stomach.

so they both have 2 dishes & both 2 types as they get sick of there wet food so they have 2 choices
Meticare Gastro food for both of em &
Hills i/d wet food both pretty good except when they eat to much can make a huge mess. :(

So how long is to long on keeping wet food out ?
I leave it till it goes almost dry as if they are hungry they will eat it
they CJ eats half a can a day he should be eating 1 can a day
& Kala is a quater of a can a day or les sshe eats not too much

June 30th, 2005, 11:53 PM
Thanks for the info Angerona! Mambo hasn't vomited since I switched him to wet food (and a better quality food at that) so I am crossing my fingers that it was just the dry food that was bothering him. Tip to everyone: STAY AWAY FROM CORNMEAL!!!!! IT IS EVIL!!!!!