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Vomiting and runny eyes.

Species: Cat
Breed: siamese mix
Age: 1-2 years
Hello Doc! My cat Princess started throwing up this morning. First two times was solid kibble, just eaten. The third, fourth and fifth times have been a foamy white (and clear) liquid. I have taken her food away, but she wants to eat. Suddenly, she has a light green colored mucous in the inside corner of her eyes. I noticed last night that she was acting a little strange--moody. I took a closer look and I thought that the outside corners of her eyes looked very pink. I didn't know what to make of it she was otherwise fine until this morning. My other cat is doing just fine, no signs of anything. They are both indoor cats.

I'm very nervous. What do you think this is? She had some stomach discomfort when we adopted her last November. The vet gave me a bottle of metronidazole on 11/13/08 and I was thinking about giving her some right now, but it expired on 3/18/09. Please help!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Gina! Thanks so much for your question. I have a few questions for you before I answer:

Has she had diarrhea at all?
Is she sneezing at all?
Is your other cat a new addition?
Are your cats up to date on vaccinations?

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Hello Dr. Marie,

Thank you so much for getting right back to me. Well I actually just checked her stool, and it does seem a little soft, but it's not diarrhea. No sneezing. A little coughing but just today. She seems to be wincing alot. No new additions. She was the new addition, actually, last November. She tends to be an over-eater, and she drinks a lot of water. I've often been concerned about that, but she was otherwie healthy and happy. I was thinking worms maybe, but I can't imagine how she would have got them, unless previously prone. We didn't know a lot about her when we adopted her, she was a rescue.

As for vaccines, I don't think she's due for anything again until her one year mark, which would be November.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

OK, thanks for that info. This is hard to answer without seeing your cat, but I can give you some of my thoughts and you are welcome to ask more questions afterwards if you need to.

My first thought was that your girl may have a bit of a viral infection. This can cause the runny, red eyes, coughing and the stomach upset. However, there is usually not a whole lot of vomiting, so if the vomiting continues I would be more concerned that this is something serious.

If the vomiting stops and she is wanting to eat, but you notice that she is getting congested and has more eye discharge then this is definitely most likely to be an upper respiratory tract virus. If so, most cats get over this on their own. As long as she is eating ok it is alright to just keep an eye on her. You can put her in the bathroom next to a steamy shower for a few minutes periodically to help with nasal congestion.

There are other causes for vomiting that would be more of a concern. In a young cat I worry about an obstruction in her stomach (i.e. if she ate something she shouldn't have. This doesn't directly cause red, runny eyes but if she is dehydrated her eyes could look sunken. If this is an obstruction then she will continue to vomit and you may notice the vomiting is projectile. If she is still vomiting in the morning then a vet visit is definitely necessary.

Some cats can get some mild stomach upset due to a change in food, a new treat or even stress. If so, it should be very temporary. She may benefit from pepcid which you can buy over the counter. While I can't legally advise you on how much to give I can give you this link to read. (Cut and paste it into your browser):

Regarding the metronidazole...this medication helps with intestinal inflammation. It won't be harmful if it is mildly expired (but may not be as effective as it once was). It's not a bad idea to give her a dose tonight until you can contact your vet in the morning.

Worms are possible, but would not be my first thought. Something more serious like a kidney toxin is possible as well. This is unlikely but could happen if you had a toxic plant such as a lily in the house.

I don't usually recommend a period of fasting for cats as they can actually get quite sick with a condition called fatty liver if they are fasted for too long. I would encourage her to eat very small amounts of food a few times throughout the day. And again, if she is still vomiting tomorrow (and especially if she is losing her appetite) then a vet visit is a good idea!

I hope she does ok! Let me know if you have more questions.

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

Wow, this is just incredible. Thank you, Dr. Marie, for being there to talk to. As an emotional pet lover, these are my kids. I am so grateful to you for making yourself abailable on a Sunday to talk to me and ease my worry.

Yes, I will definitely take her into the vet tomorrow, I was just in a panic today. Will give her a little bit of kibble as you suggested. Which I'm glad you did say, because I wouldn't have done that otherwise. I'll give her some of the meds, too, now that I know it's not dangerous.

Pepcid, that's interesting! And I already have some! I'll look into that link once I finish this.

Princess is a stressed out cat, she came that way. And I did give her a rich treat yesterday that she hasn't had in a week or so. And my boyfriend is gone this weekend, and she loves him the most. It could be a combination of these things, but I agree that it's most likely viral. She's acting odd.

The vomiting has subsided and she is resting. I"m going to give her some kibble and keep her close.

Thank you again, I will be in touch and tell everyone about you! Have a beautiful night.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome! I'll be here if you have more questions over the next few days! Thanks for spreading the word! My website is new and I am very excited to have the questions that have been asked so far!

Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

It's a brilliant service and I am so glad to know about it now. It really helps on the weekends, let me tell ya!! I'm sure it's going to take off once the word gets out. Good luck to you =)

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks! You too!

Customer reply:

Dear Dr. Marie,

Good Morning! I hope you don't mind, but I am back with an update and a quick question about my Princess. After I chatted with you yesterday, I couldn't get the medicine into her at all, so I let her rest. She managed to keep a handful of kibble down, and she drank a ton of water, poor thing. But by late evening, her nose was red, her ears were bright red, her body was hot and her eyes were definitely red and bothering her. She wouldn't let me touch her head, and all she would do was sit, blink and squeeze her eyes shut. So I tried again to get the medication in her and it worked. She didn't move all night.

By this morning, she was much better! She still has some pink to her face, but she's moving around, has an appetite and is more like herself. I'm going to try to get more medication in her. My question is, do you think that this medication alone is enough to treat a viral infection, if that is what she has? I may just keep her home and continue this trial. Thank you again.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Gina...I'm glad to hear that she is feeling a little better this morning. It sounds like she was really not feeling well.

I'm wondering if perhaps she had an allergic reaction to a bee sting or other insect? This could cause all of the symptoms mentioned.

As long as she is feeling better, eating ok and not vomiting I think it's ok to just keep an eye on her. The metronidazole is for diarrhea so if the stools are normal you don't need to give it.

If she did have an allergic reaction she may be pretty much over it but some cats do need antihistamine or steroid treatment. That would be something that you should have your vet assess her for.

So, hopefully she is eating ok and keeping things down. If not, then a vet visit is the best idea.

Hope that helps!
Dr. Marie.

Customer reply:

Oh shoot....I thought it was any antibiotic! Ok, well that's no good....I'll stop the meds because she doesn't seen to have any more loose stools from what I can tell.

Ok, I'll keep an eye on her and if necessary I will take her in. There is still some pink to her ears.

Many thanks again or saving the day.

Gina & Princess

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sounds good!
Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.