Why is My Cat Throwing Up? A Definitive Guide to Cat Vomiting!

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cat vomiting bile

You are probably familiar with dog vomiting – the unmistakable pre-vomit sound followed by some form of vomit – but did you know that cat vomiting is just as prevalent? Dogs and cats can both suffer from vomiting just like humans so here’s what you need to know about your cat throwing up.

SUMMARY VERSION: Wondering how to get your cat to stop throwing up? Try this!

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Honest Kitchen Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement$7.99
The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Dog & Cat Supplement supports the normal healthy functioning of your dog or cat’s digestive tract. This pet nutrition supplement combats gas, facilitates regularity, firms up loose stools, and soothes and protects the GI Tract. Perfect Form is ideal for pets with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colitis or occasional digestive upset (diarrhea or vomiting). Use in conjunction with a grain-free diet for best results. It can be fed directly or mixed with food.

 

Feline Emesis: What is Cat Vomiting?

Just like dog vomiting, cat vomiting can happen from time to time. A cat throwing up can be something minor, such as an upset stomach or motion sickness. Or, it can be something more serious, like a gastrointestinal disorder or systemic disorder.

Your cat throwing up is very much like any other pet vomiting. You can tell a cat is about to vomit if you hear gagging followed by some form of liquid – whether that is clear liquid, food, blood, or white foam.

Type of Vomiting in Cats

There are three reasons why a cat vomits: on occasion (also known as feline vomiting), acute feline vomiting, or chronic feline vomiting.

On Occasion

Like other animals, cat’s vomit on occasion. On occasion – or feline vomiting – often happens once or twice a month for some cats. However, other cats may only vomit once or twice per year.

Acute

Acute feline vomiting typically appears very suddenly and is not pleasant for your cat. It can also involve a significant amount of vomit or projectile vomiting (you’re welcome we did not include a picture).

Chronic

Chronic feline vomiting happens regularly – typically more than several times per week. While it can be scary, sometimes chronic vomiting doesn’t even phase your cat!

sick cat keeps throwing up at vet

Products for a Cat Throwing Up

Seeing your kitty suffer from vomiting isn’t easy, but there are some solutions available. Although you should always consult your vet for recommendations, you can start by looking into preventative products that can help your cat’s digestive and immune health.

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VetriScience Hairball Bite-Sized Cat Chews, 60 count$9.00
VetriScience Hairball Bite-Sized Cat Chews provide safe, effective hairball relief using pure and highly researched ingredients. This powerful hairball formula supports your cat’s overall digestive wellness with psyllium, a soluble fiber that helps maintain the G.I. tract. It also keeps your cat’s coat in top condition with omega-3 and 6 to hydrate the skin along with biotin and zinc to contribute to skin and coat health.

While some products are as quick and simple as chews, there are a variety of other options to consider. Depending on the causes of your cat’s symptoms, the type of treatment and dosage will vary.

Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Honest Kitchen Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement$7.99
The Honest Kitchen Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Dog & Cat Supplement supports the normal healthy functioning of your dog or cat’s digestive tract. This pet nutrition supplement combats gas, facilitates regularity, firms up loose stools, and soothes and protects the GI Tract. Perfect Form is ideal for pets with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Colitis or occasional digestive upset (diarrhea or vomiting). Use in conjunction with a grain-free diet for best results. It can be fed directly or mixed with food.

Combining a healthier or adjusted diet and supplements will probably make a big difference in your cat’s health. Regardless, making a vet’s appointment first cannot be stressed enough. After all, we want the best care for our four-legged children.

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VetriScience Fast Balance G.I. Paste Calibrated Tube, 35-cc$20.00
VetriScience Laboratories’ Fast Balance G.I. Paste contains a specialized, mannan oligosaccharide-rich yeast extract that is derived from the cell wall of yeast. It also includes probiotics in several strains, fungal-derived enzymes, and B vitamins, which work together to help normalize the G.I. tract. Fast Balance is recommended for garbage gut, nervous gut, and food sensitivities, as well as stress, quick normalization of digestion, and older pets in need of digestive support.

Sensitive Stomach Cat Food and Probiotics: Dinovite for Cats and Pet Ultimates!

While you should check with a vet first, here are some options on treating your sickly cat!

Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Cats and Dinovite for Cats are great beginners when dealing with your cat throwing up if you begin to notice their illness. However, as you’ll learn later in the article – sometimes it’s natural! Gross but true.

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Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Cats$32.95
Each tasty scoop of PetUltimates Probiotics for Cats contains five billion bacteria known to support regular digestion, healthy skin, renewed vitality. The army of protective microorganisms in our Probiotics for Cats guards the feline colon against mucosal inflammation and infections by yeast, toxic bacteria and other opportunistic microorganisms. Among the benefits are less litterbox smell, reduced shedding, firmer stools, and suppression of allergic symptoms such as itching, scratching and hot spots.

Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food and Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Cat Food can help if your cat has regular stomach issues. If you do suspect your cat has a sensitive stomach, always consult your vet. You never know if it will mean something serious or not.

Rated 4.00/5.00 by Certapet
Blue Buffalo Sensitive Stomach Natural Adult Dry Cat Food$41.50
BLUE for Cats dry cat food recipes are made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals. Starting with real meat as the 1st ingredient, they include wholesome grains, veggies and fruit, plus our exclusive, antioxidant-rich Life Source Bits to support your feline’s overall health and well-being. BLUE for Cats has formulations to meet all of your cat’s life stage and lifestyle needs, from hairball and weight control to sensitive stomach and healthy aging recipes. BLUE for Cats is a product of the Blue Buffalo company. Based in the United States, Blue Buffalo makes premium-quality pet foods.

 

Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Hill's Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Sensitive Stomach & Skin$53.99
Your cat's stomach health is a vital part of his or her everyday life, which is why Hill'sNULL Science DietNULL Sensitive Stomach & Skin dry cat food provides optimal digestive health while nourishing skin & promoting a lustrous fur. Using prebiotic fiber, this dry food fuels your adult cat's beneficial gut bacteria, helping support a balanced microbiome for lifelong health. The easy-to-digest ingredients allow your feline friend's stomach to process nutrients quickly – a process that allows for easier stool pickup as well. Finally, this cat food made with natural ingredients provides vitamin E and omega-6s to nourish your grown cat's skin and support a healthy fur coat. There’s more to love with the new look of Science DietNULL. Some of our products also have new names, new kibble shapes & new formulas.

Learn what most vets say about cats throwing up and causes below!

A Symptom of a Bigger Problem? What Causes Vomiting in Cats?

One of the most common causes of vomiting in cats is eating too much food, too fast. You’ll find what is known as regurgitation near your cat’s food bowl when this happens. When a cat’s stomach wall expands too fast, the brain receives a signal, causing regurgitation.

Unlike vomiting, regurgitation doesn’t cause the cat to open their mouth – the fluid and food is brought up from their esophagus. According to DVM Dr. Sara Stephens, “Cats that eat too quickly because they are gluttonous or stressed by food bowl competition can regurgitate right after eating.”

However, regurgitation isn’t always innocent – it can be due to esophageal issues, digestive tract obstruction, dehydration, or hairballs.

Cat Not Eating?

In addition to eating too quickly, cats vomit after eating something they shouldn’t. For example, cats love to get into toilet paper, grass, and even carpet – all things that can cause an upset stomach! All of which can also play in part of NOT eating!

But, curiosity can mean something more – especially when they ingest objects like strings, toy parts, or even feathers. Cats often vomit excessively when they eat something that can become lodged in their stomach. In this case, take your cat to the vet immediately as surgery is often necessary.

Cats may also vomit due to a bacterium, viral, or parasitic infection. Gastrointestinal parasites may also cause a cat to chronically vomit as they cannot digest their food properly.

Chronic diseases, such as acute kidney failure, colitis, gallbladder inflammation, pancreatitis, and gastritis, can be a symptom of a cat vomiting. Your veterinarian will help evaluate if your cat has a chronic disease.

Furthermore, a change in diet can set off your cat throwing up. Switching up your cat’s meals can cause nausea and vomiting. And, if you recently had to put your cat on a new feline medication, it could easily cause an upset stomach.

cat hairball due to cat throwing up foam

Sometimes Vomiting is Normal! Enter Cat Hair Balls…

If you’ve ever had a cat, you are absolutely familiar with cat hairballs. Hairballs are undigested, wet wads of fur – and almost every cat gets them.

Hairball vomiting is typically followed by hacking noises and spasms – and then the vomiting of the said hairball. While most hairballs expel easily, if your cat can’t get it out, bring them to the veterinarian as it could cause intestinal blockage.

When is Cat Throwing Up a Serious Problem?

Because the causes of vomiting can be so varied, it can be difficult to diagnose. However, some cases are easier to diagnose depending on the type of vomit. Additionally, some types of vomiting are more serious than others.

Vomitus! What’s the Meaning Behind a Cat Throwing up Bile

Bile is a yellow-green fluid created in the liver and stored in the cat’s gallbladder until they have eaten. Bile is then released in the small intestine to help with digestion.

When cats throw up bile, it means the bile doesn’t enter the stomach properly and causes irritation followed by vomiting. The gastrointestinal tract does not automatically react to normal tract functions and the tract contents do not move as they should. Ultimately, this causes abnormal internal behavior and the cat vomits bile.

Cats typically throw up yellow bile in the early morning or late evening prior to eating. It’s a rare condition and typically occurs in older cats.

The cause of bile is still unknown but can be a result of gastritis or inflammation of the intestine.

Cat Throwing up Food!

cat puking food

Cats throwing up undigested food is quite common and often harmless. When cats vomit their food, it is often because they ate too much, too fast.

When a cat is vomiting up food, diet change can be to blame – especially in cats with sensitive stomachs. Furthermore, food allergies can be to blame. For example, a cat can be intolerant or allergic to a particular ingredient in their food. Common cat allergies include fish, beef, eggs, milk, and wheat.

A Sick Cat: Cat Vomiting Blood

A cat vomiting blood, also known as hematemesis, can be caused by many different factors. Their gastrointestinal system can be affected by an ulcer, trauma, inflammation or they may have ingested a foreign object. Your cat could also have a hemorrhage that affects their heart, causing a heart murmur or low blood pressure.

Additional reasons your cat is vomiting blood may be trouble with their mouth and stomach lining or a stomach irritation. They might also throw up blood due to a mouth or lung injury.

Blood may be found in the form of fresh blood, clots, or digested blood that appears like coffee grounds.

Bring your cat to the vet if you see any signs of blood in their vomit as it could be life-threatening.

Cat Puking? Why is The Cat Vomiting Foam?

While a human vomiting white foam is often a sign of illness, a cat vomiting foam is quite common. A cat vomiting foam is most commonly associated with hairballs. Other reasons cat vomit foam includes a change in diet or stomach inflammation.

Dietary changes can cause white foam vomit as some cats may resist a change in diet. Cats might skip meals or eat their meal later than normal if you change their diet unexpectedly. When feeding them a new food – especially when it is not introduced slowly – their bodies have no warning and will not produce the digestive juices needed to break down food – whether they eat the new food or not.

White foam vomit can also occur if you unexpectedly change their eating schedule.

Stomach inflammation – or gastritis – can cause white foam vomit as well. Gastritis is commonly seen with lack of appetite. And, your cat may vomit bile or blood in addition to white foam.

If your cat is vomiting white foam due to a hairball, you probably don’t need to be concerned. But, if they are vomiting from gastritis, a trip to the vet may be in your best interest.

cat throwing up food

My Cat Keeps Throwing up! When to Visit a Vet

It’s time to see your vet if your cat is continuously vomiting or if they are suffering from diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, weight loss, there is blood in their vomit or if they have a sudden change in appetite or are not drinking enough water.

Veterinarians can evaluate your pet and quickly determine the seriousness of the issue. You can chat with a veterinarian online at the newly launched CertaPet Veterinarians here. However, for serious cases, we advise you to visit a clinic near you for a thorough examination. When it comes to your pet, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Some Veterinarian Clinics on the CertaPet Veterinarians Platform:

Vet Clinics in Houston, TX

Banfield Pet Hospital Willowbrook
Emancipet

Vet Clinics in Los Angeles, CA

Animal Medical Center Hollywood
Park La Brea Veterinary Care

Vet Clinics in New York, NY

Gotham Animal Clinic
Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Hells Kitchen
West Chelsea Veterinary Hospital

Vet Clinics in Phoenix, AZ

Animal Care Hospital of Phoenix
Dreamy Draw Cat Hospital

Vet Clinics in Chicago, IL

Animal Medical Center of Chicago
Metropolitan Veterinary Center
Premier Veterinary Group Chicago

A Barfing Cat: Here’s What Your Vet Will Do

Your vet will most likely perform various tests such as X-rays, blood tests, sonograms, or a fecal examination to make a diagnosis. This will also depend on your cat’s age, their medical history, and their specific symptoms.

Veterinarians will typically recommend removing food and water until vomiting has stopped for at least two hours. Then, slowly introduce water followed by a bland diet – such as rice, cooked, skinless chicken, and boiled potatoes.

Some situations will require antiemetics-drugs or fluid therapy in order to help the vomiting.

In the event your cat’s vomiting is due to food allergies, your veterinarian may suggest removing different ingredients from your cat’s diet in order to find the culprit. If your cat is vomiting up their dry food, your vet could recommend switching foods to see if that helps.

While sometimes scary, cat vomiting is quite common and often harmless. They could be vomiting simply because they are eating too quickly or have a hairball. However, vomiting can also be a sign of something more serious. If they are consistently throwing up or throwing up blood, it’s time to take your cat to the vet.

Common Questions

Why is my cat throwing up?

How do you know when you need to take your cat to the vet for vomiting?

What are hairballs?

What does it mean when my cat is throwing up blood?

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