Can My Cat Get Acid Reflux?

albuquerque cat nail biting

albuquerque cat nail bitingCan my cat get acid reflux?

The answer is yes. Acid reflux, aka heart burn, is the reverse flow of stomach (gastric) or intestinal fluid into the esophagus. This is often associated with chronic vomiting and is relatively common in cats. Though for most conditions, older cats are the ones at risk, with acid reflux it is younger cats that are at a great risk.

Severe acid reflux can cause esphagitis, which can be very painful and can cause long term damage to their esophagus.

Symptoms of acid reflux in cats

  • Regurgitating of food – this is when a cat spits up their food, it has not yet been digested. They will typically just lower their head and spit it up without any stomach muscle contractions or gagging.
  • Painful swallowing – often you will notice mewling, howling, or crying when trying t swallow
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Salivation (aka drool)
  • Fever


Acid reflux is caused when the opening between the stomach and esophagus relax. This can happen due to improper positioning during anesthesia, failure to fast your pet prior to anesthesia, congenital hiatal hernia, or long term vomiting.

This is one of the reasons why it is so important to follow the fasting recommendations of your vet prior to any surgery.

If your cat has long term vomiting, for any reason, they need to see the vet immediately. It can be a sign of a bigger health issue but can cause long term damage such as an acid reflux condition.


What is the Treatment?

Sometime you may be asked by your vet to do a day or two of fasting with your cat and then put them on a low-fat, low-protein diet in small frequent feedings.  Depending on the severity of the acid reflux, your vet may prescribe a medication. No matter what DO NOT give your cat Pepto-Bismol, or any bismuth subsalicylate treatment. Though it helps humans with acid reflux it is unsafe for cats.

If you are concerned your cat may have acid reflux it is a good idea to bring them to the vet for an evaluation and switch them to a low fat food.


Incontinence and Cats with No Tails

manx cat incontinenceManx cats are a breed of cat from the Isle of Manx. Their most distinctive quality is that they often have no tail or just a stub of a tail. The biggest problem for the ones that are born without tails is that it is often accompanies by spinal problems. This hereditary issue is known as Manx Syndrome. The most common spinal cord issue Manx cats have is spina bifida, which is where part of their spinal cord is exposed at birth. This can cause a strange gait, or leave them unable to urinate or defecate properly. Other issues can include missing vertebra, rear leg paralysis, or malformed pelvis.

The good thing is that issues with incontinence develops early in kittenhood. Most owners will never have to deal with this issue, but breeders might. If you have Manx kittens and any of them are born with spinal issues, speak to your vet about options for the kitten.

One of the most common in Manx cats is the missing vertebrae. Without that tail vertebrae the spinal nerves don’t necessarily connect properly, as they do with a tailed cat. If you do have an incontinent cat, there are ways to help ensure they stay healthy. Make sure you have regular visits with your vet. They will need more personal grooming attention to avoid skin burn from urine, and both health and grooming issues can arise from feces staying on their fun and skin. Some options for care may include keeping them in an area where it is ok for them to accidents, or putting them in diapers for cats…oh yes, they exist. Again, speaking with your vet can help you decide what is the best course. You can also speak with your vet about any potential surgical options, for some cats with this issue, there are surgeries that can help.
There are other reasons why a cat may have no tail, typically due to injury. Cats who have lost their tail due to injury will have other issues and complications related to the nature of their injury. This could include incontinence but not necessarily.


Cat Scratch Fever is More Than Just A Song

Cat scratch fever is also called cat scratch disease or CSD. It is a bacterial infection that people get from cats who are infected with Bartonella Henselae bacteria. The CDC estimates that one out of 24 people who get CSD will be hospitalized from it.

You get cat scratch fever from a scratch or a bite from an infected cat. You can also get it from the saliva (drool) of an infected cat getting into an open wound or into your eyes. So if you are petting a cat that drools, as some do when they are relaxed, don’t touch your eyes. Sometimes you an et it from a flea or a tick who is carrying it, but that is more rare. It is not transmitted between humans.

If a cat has cat scratch fever, they don’t really have many or any symptoms. Cats can be carriers of the bacterium but it doesn’t typically make them sick. It is estimated that 40% of cats are carriers of CSD. Because it doesn’t typically cause any symptoms, treatment is not recommended for cats.

If a human catches CSD, they can have the following symptoms:

  • bump at the scratch site
  • swollen lymph nodes near the scratch site
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • low grade fever
  • prolonged fever
  • body aches
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • sore throat
  • backache
  • chills
  • abdominal pain
  • join pain
  • rash


Some of these symptoms can take a few days, and up to 2 weeks, to start.

The best way to avoid cat scratch fever, beyond not playing with cats, is to not have rough play with cats. Stay away from cats that scratch and bite. Keep your cats nails trimmed so they are less likely to be able to make a deep scratch. Don’t allow your cat to lick your eyes or any open wounds.

Cats get the bacteria from infected fleas and ticks. The best way to keep your cat from being a carrier is to help prevent a flea or tick infestation. We recommend a monthly Frontline Flea and Tick treatment. It is easy to use and very effective. If you have any questions about your cat’s flea and tick treatment or CSD, please set up an appointment to speak with your Albuquerque vet.