Callie Harris, DVM, Nestle Purina Pet Care
A cat throwing up occasionally is not unusual as cat vomiting expels hairballs. Gastric irritations that cause frequent cat vomiting and include bile, mucus or blood may indicate a serious intestinal issue like an obstruction or an underlying chronic condition such as kidney disease or diabetes.
Causes: How often is your cat vomiting?
|1-3 times per month||2-3 days consistently||2+ times/day for 3 weeks+|
|Too much food, too quickly||Diet change, food intolerance||Gastroenteritis|
|Ingesting grass, Insects||Hairballs||Intestinal obstruction|
|Cold refrigerated wet food||Gastrointestinal parasites||Parvovirus|
|People foods||Acute kidney or liver failure||Chronic kidney or liver failure|
|Rotting or stale food||Pancreatitis||Ketoacidosis, hyperthyroidism|
|Yarn, paper clips or other foreign bodies||Food allergy Toxicosis e.g. grapes, household cleaners, human medication||Cancer, heartworm disease. Neurological disorders|
|Viral infections||Swallow bones or other objects|
*Causes are not exhaustive
Cat vomiting symptoms: When to be concerned
An isolated incident of cat vomiting is often not a significant concern for veterinarian but should be mentioned at your next visit. Additional signs accompanying vomiting such as a cat throwing up clear liquid, or includes diarrhea is an important progression in a cat’s health deterioration.
Symptoms that a cat’s condition has worsened is when blood is found in the vomit. This sign may indicate internal bleeding and a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.
The best care you can give your cat is to monitor initial changes in behavior. Contact a veterinarian if illness is persistent, frequent, becomes more severe or the cat has the following signs of decline.
- Increase in frequency of vomiting
- Blood in vomit
- Vomit with same texture and smell as feces
- Weight loss
- Decrease or increase in drinking water or eating
Vomiting vs regurgitating
Cats perform similar behaviors to a dog throwing up indigestible contents or regurgitating. Pet parents with a dual species household may recognize the difference between vomiting, which is a forceful expulsion of contents and regurgitation, a passive ejection of material from the esophagus.
Often, a cat throws up after eating but in fact, this is regurgitating and not vomiting.
Signs that a cat is going to vomit
- Anxious behavior
- Repeated lip licking
- Consistent swallowing
- Abdominal heaving
Treatment for vomiting in cats
A treatment plan for a cat that is vomiting depends on many factors including but not exclusive to the frequency, known health conditions and changes in behavior. Consulting a veterinarian to recommend how to manage a cat’s health is the best next step.
A veterinarian may suggest in-home care for mild or temporary conditions, which may include no food or fluids for a trial period as well as medication. A cat that continues to decline during home treatment may need more aggressive testing to identify the cause and treat it such as:
- Blood tests
- Urine evaluation
- Fecal analysis
How to help a cat that is vomiting
- Always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for care and treatment.
- Never give your cat medication meant for people, unless directed by a veterinarian.
- Maintain a consistent food and care routine for your cat.
- Always pay close attention to your cat’s behavior, report any concerning changes to your veterinarian.
- Never change your cat’s diet suddenly unless it’s advised by a veterinarian.
Learn more about caring your cat