Acid Reflux In Cats?

Acid Reflux In Cats?

by Sally
(Glos U.K)

I have a ten year old male Siamese. He has always loved his food and still eats well – balanced diet of pouches plus a certain amount of dried food.

He is not over weight and our vet who could find no obvious problem and did blood tests even these showed nothing significant.

Approx 6 months ago he began lip-licking on waking as if he felt sick and will usually start to clean himself or start to retch and brings up about a tablespoon of white foam or sometimes brown liquid.

Once he has done this he seems fine and ready for breakfast, however I can’t help feeling he shouldn’t start every day feeling ill and if anyone else has come across this with their cat can I do anything to improve the situation?

If he were human I would think it was something like acid reflux but perhaps it is wrong to attribute our illnesses to those of our pets.


Hi Sally…. thanks for visiting and asking.

As he is sick after “waking” (i.e. sleeping) it appears that it is not directly related to eating. What I mean is that there is a decent gap in between eating and being sick. And he is not vomiting food. The vomiting is also routine or regular rather than one off.

This implies and underlying continuous condition.

If this is the case the problem might be an infectious disease, kidney or liver disease or a central nervous system disorder.

As blood tests have been carried out and proved negative the infectious diseases would seem to be ruled out but I am not sure what the blood tests cover.

Other diseases “frequently associated with vomiting”1 are:

–feline panleukopenia
–sore throat (the acid reflux diagnosis that you have comes in here)
–inflammatory bowel disease

The thing is other signs of illness will be present. You say there are no signs of illness.

Poisons and drugs can be ruled out it seems to me.

Where does that leave us? I actually like your diagnosis as it fits nicely with what is going on. As a cat sleeps the stomach is on a level with the mouth and the acidic gases would flow out to the mouth if the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach is not closing properly. This would cause a sore throat and possible vomiting.

Unfortunately I don’t see reference to acid reflux in the best book on cat health1. However, this would not rule of the possibility. Cats do have similar diseases to humans.

In fact a quick search of the internet confirms that acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux is considered, “fairly common in cats”2.

It may also help to look at what are considered to be Siamese cat health problems. Siamese cats do have the largest number of inherited (genetic) illnesses of all the purebred cats.

Here are some possibilities:

— A predisposition to eating wool causing vomiting.

— inherited disorder than causes a blockage or narrowing in the stomach causing vomiting – called Pyloric Stenosis. Symptoms: Distended stomach and vomiting up to 8 hours after eating.

— Adenocarinomas of small intestine (tumor of small intestine) causing vomiting.

— Mast cell tumors but the symptoms also include anorexia and distended abdomen (not applicable).

I wasn’t going to make a conclusion but have decided that your diagnosis of acid reflux is the most logical.

In humans acid reflux is dealt with by neutralizing the acid in the stomach or shutting down acid production with drugs that can have side effects.

I wonder if you can test this diagnosis by providing some food that is alkaline that neutralizes the acid to see if he improves afterward. Click on the link for a short page on cat acid reflux cure.

I hope this rambling discussion, thinking aloud helps a bit.

Michael Avatar

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

See Cat Vomiting


1. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated


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Acid Reflux In Cats?

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Feb 26, 2011P.S.
by: Michael

Some other causes of acid reflux in cats are frequent vomiting (there will, of course, be an underlying cause for that), hiatal hernia, cancer of the esophagus, foreign body in the esophagus.

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