My Cat Is Throwing Up! What Can I Do? [8 Causes With Solutions]

Cat owners are well aware that their cats vomit once in a while. They look distressed and seem to heave their hearts out, then the undigested food or hairball is out and they’re fine in two seconds.

How often is considered too much? And are these reasons to worry and see the vet?

Here’s all that you should know about cat throwing up along with the causes and best remedies.

Why is the Cat Throwing Up?

  • Overeating
  • Eating too quickly
  • Eating new food
  • Eating a non-food substance
  • Changes in meal times
  • Allergies
  • Gastritis
  • Other health issues

When Do You Need to See the Vet?

  • The cat has been vomiting continuously for two days
  • The cat seems to be hurting
  • There’s a bright red color in the vomit
  • There are brown stains in the vomit
  • The cat hasn’t been eating or drinking for two days

How Can You Limit Cat’s Throwing Up?

  • Decrease the amount of food
  • Place an object in the cat’s bowl
  • Regulate meal times
  • Introduce new food gradually
  • Watch out for allergies
  • Make sure your plants are pet-friendly
  • Remove any harmful chemicals

How Often Is the Cat Throwing Up?

Cats heave and empty their stomachs about three times a month. It’s something pet owners barely notice after years of having a furry friend. We just clean the mess and move on.

Some cats have a sensitive digestive system (if your cat is one of them, here are the best cat foods for sensitive stomachs). Hardly any food stays in their body for more than an hour. They have a higher rate of vomiting, and that too isn’t cause for worry.

Vets often point out that a cat throwing up more than twice a day for three days is cause for alarm. This is usually associated with other symptoms, so you’d have to watch your pet closely.

Take your cat to the doctor whenever an odd issue happens or persists.

What Is the Cat Throwing Up?

The substances the cat is disposing of are actually informative. They show what exactly is bothering the cat’s digestive system.

Most of the time it’s undigested food. This is the easiest type to recognize and it points out to greedy eating habits. Cats can’t control themselves if they like a certain food type. They’ll eat it quickly and fill up on it. Unfortunately, their system can’t tolerate the overuse and it spills it all out.

Cat vomiting hairball close up - Trichobezoar is a mass found trapped in the gastrointestinal system formed from the ingestion of hair.

The reason for the cat throwing up could be another health issue. That should be clear from the vomit too. In some cases, you should collect a sample of the vomit and have the vet take a look or retain it for laboratory checks.

Bloodstains in the vomit indicate an inflammation. Bright red points to the stomach and dark brown is related to the intestines. Other organs could also be unwell. These conditions are treatable in most cases, and getting the right diagnosis is the first step.

Cats usually throw up the following substances:

  • Undigested food
  • Hairballs
  • Bile
  • Pale red blood traces
  • Brown stains
  • Foreign objects
  • White foam

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and check with a vet.

Why Is the Cat Throwing Up?

Cats have several reasons for emptying their stomachs. Here are the most common:

Overeating

Cats love certain foods and they’ll keep on munching these feats way past their satiation. Have you ever watched kittens gathered around a can of sardines? Exactly. They fill up till their bellies become round.

Unfortunately, they can’t hold the excess food very well, and their stomach often sends a signal to their brain that it needs to empty its load. Cats have a reflex where they can initiate regurgitation when they’re too full.

Eating Too Quickly

This often happens when the cat is too hungry. Once the dry food makes the usual crackling sound in the cat’s bowl, you’d see her running for it and gobbling the whole thing up in a minute.

Cats would also eat quickly if they feel there’s a high competition for the food. Sibling rivalry is normal with more than one cat in the household.

There’s also the alpha cat status. Cats have hierarchies and sometimes they feel compelled to dominate the food bowl.

If your cat is eating too fast and throwing up, check out our list of the best cat food for vomiting.

Eating New food

Introducing a new type of food suddenly could trigger a negative reflex from the cat’s stomach. Cats are creatures of habit, and any changes in their lifestyle need to be slow and gradual.

Feeding your cat from the house food could also cause vomiting. You see them meowing around you when you’re eating grilled chicken. They seem to crave it like a starving piranha and you give in and let them share your meal.

This often ends up with the meal thrown up on the carpet. House food has a wonderful smell, but cats more familiar with dry food find it a bit too heavy.

Eating a Non-Food Substance

Curiosity is a true cat trait, and it gets it into trouble more often than not! Cats can’t resist playing with frills, beads, or any small discarded objects. Sometimes they ingest these things.

There are many hazardous substances in your household and it’s best to keep them out of kitty’s reach.

side view of a tabby white british shorthair cat vomit in back yard on lawn

The sensitive cat stomachs can barely tolerate the foreign object they swallowed. As a purging reaction, the cat starts heaving and retching. It’d be good if they could actually throw up the non-food substance.

Changes in Meal Times

Punctual feeding times are generally good for mammals. Humans benefit from keeping their mealtimes scheduled and regular. The same goes for cats.

Cats take this a step further. Their stomach gets upset when their mealtimes are disrupted. They could also respond by eating too much or too quickly.

Allergies

Food allergies also cause cat vomiting. Certain food substances trigger a strong reaction in the cat’s immune system.

It could be hard to associate the allergy foods with the vomiting response if the cat throws up frequently. Usually, the suspect food can be pinpointed.

Eggs, dairy, and fish are some of the foods that cause allergies. It’s a common observation that many cat owners have noticed, and they generally refrain from giving it to their cats

Gastritis

The cat’s stomach or intestines could become inflamed. This is referred to as gastritis and it often results in continuous vomiting.

Other symptoms are associated with gastritis like a sudden loss of appetite, unusual lethargy, and sometimes pain.

The stomach and intestine inflammation might also present other symptoms. A pale red streak in the cat’s vomit signals inflammation of the upper alimentary canal. Dark brown stains refer to intestinal issues.

Other Health Issues

Cats could be sick with something more serious. Vomiting comes with more than just hairballs and greedy eating.

Cat owners should check with a vet if they see a yellowish-green color in the cat’s vomit. This is a symptom of liver issues and it needs close attention. Not all of these health issues are dangerous conditions, many are cleared up with proper medication.

A cat could ingest a chemical substance or an unsuitable plant accidentally. This would trigger a reaction of quick and continuous vomiting, and that’s a good thing. This is how the cat purges its body. Sometimes medical attention is needed, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Does Your Cat Need to See the Vet?

Cats naturally throw up a few times each month, and there’s no need to take them to the vet over that. Here are the situations where things could be more serious:

Continuous vomiting for more than two days merits a vet’s opinion, especially if the cat hasn’t been eating or drinking. Dehydration is a serious possibility and a vet’s input is essential to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Vet listening cat stomach with stethoscope, risk of hairball, lung disease

If the cat seems to be hurting that’s naturally cause for concern. You can tell by the distressed sounds the cat makes. The vet should be able to assess the cause of the cat’s discomfort and prescribe the necessary medication to alleviate its pain.

You also need to consult a vet if you notice red or brown stains in the cat’s vomit. This is often an inflammation and there’s a chance that the cat will need further lab testing. The doctor would recommend changes in the cat’s diet or prescribe some medicine according to the case.

It’s better safe than sorry. Even if you have a little doubt that your cat might not be well, a visit to the vet wouldn’t hurt. It’ll put your mind at ease, and if there’s a health issue, it’s best to treat it promptly.

How You Can Limit Your Cat’s Throwing Up

There are some effective measures you can take to prevent or limit the cat’s throwing up. This should keep your cat in good health, and you’ll have much less cleaning to do.

Decrease the Amount of Food

Cats throw up when they overeat. It seems like a cruel thing to underfeed a pet, but in this case, it’s in the cat’s best interest.

The cat will retain what it ate and make much better use of its nutrients. If you still feel that kitty is hungry, you might add a little midday snack.

Place an Object in the Cat’s Bowl

Eating quickly is also a trigger of cat vomit and it’s a bit challenging to fix. There’s a smart trick you can use to make the cat slow down.

Put a solid ball in the cat’s bowl. Make sure it’s large enough, so the cat doesn’t try to eat it. The cat would move the ball around to reach the food, and this should stall her a little.

Cat rivalry is usually a cause for quick easting. If that’s the case, try putting their food in separate bowls. You can also feed the cats in different places.

Regulate Meal Times

This might seem a bit hard, as we all have crazy schedules, and sticking to a tight schedule could be a challenge.

Things happen of course. Life happens, but we try.

cat eat, closeup image of domestic cat eat food

Regular mealtimes increase effective digestion. That’s because the cat’s systems are all stand by at fixed times each day. It’s like natural sleep patterns.

Introduce New Food Gradually

Cats view new foods with a little caution. Their bodies are always suspicious of what they ingest. That’s another natural defense mechanism they inherited from their ancient ancestors.

Add a little amount of the new food at first and observe how the cat responds to it. If all goes well and kitty likes it, you can make a full shift to the new type in a week.

Watch Out for Allergies

The reasons why a certain food triggers an allergic reaction in mammals are unclear. It’s a complex process, but we can deal with it simply. If your cat gets upset after eating certain foods, eliminate them from its diet.

Making the connection is sometimes difficult. The repetition creates a pattern and spotting the culprit gets easier.

Make Sure Your Plants Are Pet-Friendly

Some houseplants are allergic or even poisonous to pets. These plants are quite harmless to humans and they look great indoors. Cats nibble on them occasionally and it upsets their stomach.

They could also snack on normal plants, but if they ingest too much, it’d still turn their stomachs. If a plant looks too delicious to kitty maybe you should move it to another room.

Remove Harmful Chemicals

This includes insecticides, rodent repellents, dehumidification pellets, or naphthalin balls. Several cleaning products are also unsafe for cats. There’s a long list of high-risk chemical substances lying around the corners of the house.

Keep your house as safe as possible for your pet. Many of these items can be replaced by mechanical products that wouldn’t pose any risk for your cat.

Conclusion

Cats tend to overeat and occasionally, a curious cat would nibble on a substance it shouldn’t ingest. We all make such innocent mistakes, right?

Vomiting could also be caused by other health issues. Pay attention if your cat throws up continuously for more than two days or seems in pain or distress. It’s best to observe your cat closely and see the vet.

Cat throwing up can be limited significantly if you modify the cat’s eating habits. You might also need to make a few changes around the house.

Your pet will love you for all that care and attention.

 

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