Cat owners, you’ve probably seen your cat throwing up at one time or another. While it is not unusual for cats to vomit, it’s never normal for them to do so regularly. That said, if you notice your cat throwing up every once in a while, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be treated, or you have to rush to a veterinarian for treatment. In this post, you’ll get your answer as to when to take your cat to the vet, why cats vomit, and what therapies are available to help your flexible little buddy feel better.
Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?
Like humans, cats are prone to suffer from an upset tummy for several reasons. There are numerous possible causes for your cat’s vomiting, viruses, and parasites, a reaction to eating the wrong things, or more critical conditions such as cancer. If your cat keeps vomiting regularly, it may be time to visit the vet to determine the vomiting’s underlying cause.
Reasons Your Cat Keeps Throwing Up
Bad Case of Hairballs
Hairballs are indigestible tufts of fur that accumulate in your cat’s stomach. Hairballs are particularly common in longhair cats and cats that require lots of grooming. A quick way to identify if your cat has a bad case of hairballs is to pay attention to hacking noises and spasms. These are common signs that your cat is trying to rid itself of hairballs. Cats can quickly expel most hairballs, but if your cat is having a hard time trying to get rid of a hairball, it’s time for professional help. Ensnared hairballs may lead to severe conditions, such as intestinal blockages, which can be fatal.
Overeating, Too Fast
If your cat overeats too quickly, vomiting will likely occur soon after mealtime. Fun cat bowls are now available to help your cat eat more slowly. That said, vomiting right after eating can be a sign of a more severe problem, such as trapped hairballs, dehydration, esophageal complications, or a digestive tract issue. If your cat vomits regularly right after eating, it may be time to pay a visit to the vet.
Additional Serious Conditions That May Cause Your Cat to Vomit
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Metabolic Disorder (Kidney Disease)
- Intestinal Foreign Bodies
- Food Allergies
- Intestinal Parasites
When to See a Vet About Your Cat’s Vomiting
If your cat vomits periodically, avoid giving it any food for about 10-12 hours. Give your cat some water every 30 minutes or ice cubes during this brief fasting period. When it’s time to eat again, begin providing your cat with bland food in small amounts and slowly return to regular feeding portions if vomiting has ceased.
If your cat is experiencing repeated bursts of vomiting, speak to your vet about the situation immediately. Severe bouts of vomiting could be an indication that your cat is dangerously ill and requires immediate professional attention. Reach out to your vet if your cat displays any of the following:
- Weakness / Lethargy
- Pain / Distress
- Repeated Vomiting
- Blood in Vomit
- Blood in Stool
When it’s time to take your cat to the vet, we recommend you take a sample of your cat’s vomit along. Your vet will need it to examine the source of the problem to help determine the cause of your cat’s vomiting. What the vomit looks like will not give a clear-cut answer as to why your cat is vomiting, but it will give the vet an idea of where to start looking. The following vomit characteristics can offer some hints:
- Clear vomit: Clear vomit can be a regurgitation from the esophagus or an empty stomach.
- Yellow vomit: Yellow vomit (bile) can be a sign of liver infection, an empty stomach, or it can also mean the cat ate something yellow.
- White, foamy vomit: This is typically regurgitation from the esophagus or an empty stomach.
- Blood in the vomit: Bloody esophagus or stomach.
- Coffee-ground appearance to the vomit: Bleeding from the stomach or ulcer complications.
- Smelly brown vomit: Bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract.
- Bits of food in the vomit: This indicates that the food your cat ate never left the stomach. This usually occurs with food intolerances (or allergies) or pretty much anything that induces upper gastrointestinal tract inflammation. It is essential to always be mindful of what your cat eats during the day. For example, if your cat has not eaten his daily serving and is vomiting bits of undigested food, that would indicate an obstruction or a motility disorder.
Treatment for a vomiting cat centers on finding and treating the underlying issue(s). Depending on what causes your cat’s symptoms, treatment can be as manageable as temporarily delaying food or as complex as surgery or, in worse cases, chemotherapy.
Every cat owner is familiar with the signs associated with their cats’ upset stomach: the distressing meow, gagging, and retching. And just as quickly as it begins, it stops. Your cat returns to normal health while you’re left scrubbing the vomit off the floor.
While many cat owners accept this as a normal part of owning a cat, you have to pay attention to the signs. Knowing what upsets your cat’s stomach and what you can do to help is your responsibility as a caring owner. Further reading: