Occasionally, cats feel sick to their stomach. Vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or lack of appetite are signs that your kitty might have a problem with his gastrointestinal tract. An antacid -- medicine that prevents or corrects acidity in the stomach -- can often help your cat feel better.
What Causes Stomach Problems
Stomach problems in cats can be fairly mild and caused by something they ate. This type of problem often corrects itself within a day or two.
More serious stomach problems can stem from diseases such as chronic renal failure, feline infectious peritonitis, and pancreatitis. Other possible causes include heartburn, stomach ulcers, urinary tract infections, hairballs, and parasites. You should always seek medical treatment for your cat to identify the problem and its severity.
Why Antacids & How They Work
Antacids go by several names, but they all do essentially the same thing: They reduce the acidity in your cat's gasrointestinal system by increasing the pH level. By neutralizing the acid, antacids reduce stomach irritation.
In cats with chronic renal failure, antacids lower the amount of phosphorous circulating in the blood. Antacids can be administered orally as liquids or by capsule. Common antacids include Pepcid AC, Maalox, Amphojel, AlternaGel, and milk of magnesia.
How to Administer
Never try to guess how much antacid you should give your cat, and do not follow human amounts. Always ask a veterinarian the right dosage and how long the drug should be given to your cat. Be sure to tell your vet if your cat takes any other drugs; antacids can interact with other medicines, such as tetracycline. Carefully measure out the correct liquid dose, and crush the pill form for easier dosing.
Side Effects & Possible Reactions
Though antacids are considered generally safe for most cats, side effects can include loose stools, constipation, or lack of appetite. Owners should use caution when giving antacids to pregnant or lactating cats. Long-term use of aluminum or calcium compounds (which some antacids contain) can also cause kidney damage. Cats with kidney failure should not take antacids containing magnesium.
Always let a veterinarian or other trained animal practitioner suggest the right antacid for your cat.
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.