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Clues about Dry Heaving

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
No, this is not an emergency, and the reason I'm posting this is so I can get a better idea of how to communicate with vets, and recognize problems. Both of my cats are spayed, indoor only cats.

Artemis is a bit over 2 years old now. I adopted her in Florida with littermates and her stray mother. When she was young, she had worms and her mother was extremely skinny. I did eventually get rid of all the non-flea and non-flea-associated parasites while in Florida, with help from a vet. Getting rid of parasites in Florida with three kittens whom I couldn't handle was quite a process, and took some time (especially with no worms from a fecal float and therefore only my word to the vet). When the cats still had worms, they would occasionally vomit, once even vomitting a large worm.

I have Artemis and her sister Athena with me now in California (the mom is very happily permanetly placed with my own mother, still in Florida), and they are currently parasite free. Advantage together with moving out of an un-airconditioned apartment in Florida means I have no fleas and no tape worms, and the more serious worms have been gone longer. I haven't had to use any drugs to treat parasites for the entire year period I've lived in California, so a reaction to a drug is not the cause.

Only about 5 months ago (and after the most recent vet visit) did Artemis become a lap-cat and comfortable with attention from me, so I can pay much more attention to her health. I found out, after the vet visit, that her right upper canine is broken off; it no longer peeks out of her mouth and has a slightly jagged edge.

On to the problem;

Artemis dry heaves. Often in the middle of the night, probably about twice a week, she makes a terrible coughing sound, tosses her chin forward, makes an undulating head movement, slinks around, and nothing happens. Literally. Nothing is ever vomited. The sound is variable, often sounding more like a seal barking than anything else I can think of. I do not yet have a vet I am particularly happy with in California, but the one I found couldn't give me any advice and suggested I get an audio recording of the sound. Artemis is not happy when she makes the sound; sometimes she will leave my lap just as starts, she often hides under the table, usually she moves around the house. When I was Florida, I simply associated the sound with parasites in the stomach, and talked to my vet about parasites, not about the sound.

Artemis is also a problem eater, liking to eat any plastic I leave around, which I try extremely hard to avoid doing. (She is also a cabinet door opener, though, so a trash bag under the sink is completely unsafe.)

There is only healthy stool in my litter box. No blood, firm, moist stool, all good.

Artemis is a committed water drinker (and water-bowl flipper, but I've got heavy bowls now.)

I may be making up patterns where no exist, but I feel that she tries to find things to chew when her food bowl is empty, and that if I have the bowl empty for any length of time, she will find and eat plastic, and I will hear the terrible cough-barking sound soon.

I suspect that keeping a plastic-free house will much easier when my spouse leaves the house for a grad program in Utah, although the spouse thinks I am the one with poor cleanliness habits.

The vet complimented me on the cats' healthy, almost kitten-like weight this winter, (Athena was 8 lbs, Artemis 9) but I fear that Artemis is starting to gain a bit of weight, and I don't want to leave the food bowl empty.

So, on to my questions:

What are the first symptoms of health problems from non-food ingested items?

Are there any food choices or additives that will decrease the risks from ingested items? (healthy oils, ect.?)

Is there a good way to get items out of the mouth of skittish problem eaters? I recently tried to grab a plastic thread out of Artemis' mouth the day I learned that trash under the sink wouldn't work, but I just ended up chasing her around the house and scaring her, and I haven't seen the plastic since (not even in the litter box, which scares me).
post #2 of 2
I'm not a vet, but my cat Loki had a similar problem. He too likes to chew anything and everything he can find and I have frequently had to take plastic and elastic bands away from him. He had quite a problem with dry heaves, started around last Christmas and I thought that he was eating some of the Christmas decorations, so had to be careful! Anyway, the problem persisted. I then thought maybe it's hairballs (although nothing was ever coming up), so was dosing him with hairball medicine on the advice of the vet. The vet decided to do Xrays when that didn't help and discovered that his lungs were very congested and that what we thought was hairballs or eating stuff that he shouldn't was actually asthma! Anyway, we started him on a 7 week regimine of prednisone, gradually decreasing the dose, and then took him off as the vet suggested to see how he did. No dry heaves or coughs once he was several days into the treatment. Well, he had another asthma attack not quite 4 weeks after we stopped the prednisone, so the vet had me start the regimine all over again and then keep him on a maintenance dose of 1/2 tablet every other evening. Loki is fine now although my co-workers got quite a chuckle when they found out that he had asthma! They were laughing a saying, what's he allergic to, Cats? Anyway, good luck with Artemis. I hope you discover what is wrong with him and that he is feeling better soon!

Pround mommy to Loki and Nana to Jacob
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