Cat Vomiting problems sometimes scare cat owners and rightly so. While an occasional episode of vomiting is normal in most cats,
it can also indicate a problem such as cat diabetes, feline food
allergies, heartworm, cat skin allergies, feline constipation, cat
hairballs, and many other conditions.
Watch the following short video of a cat vomiting and see if you can decide what is causing this kitty to vomit.
I hope that you said you couldn't tell what is making the cat throw up because there's no way you COULD know. In fact, there's no way anyone could know. The unfortunate fact is that we can't tell the difference between vomiting caused by a foreign object or a hairball or just a temporary upset stomach. When cats vomit, they always look the same, regardless of the cause.
It is this very fact, the inability to distinguish harmless cat vomiting
from vomiting that is of concern, that makes it so important that
caring cat owners learn as much as possible about cat health and feline
illness. It is essential to learn about causes of feline vomiting and
learn to ask your veterinarian the right cat health questions.
Vomiting in cats can be caused by a problem in any part of the gastro/intestinal system from the stomach to the small intestines to the colon as well as the mouth and esophagus. Vomiting in pets can also be caused by disorders of other organs in the body as is the case with feline diabetes or feline kidney disease. However, this section of our website focuses on cat vomiting that originates from GI problems such as cat hairballs, feline constipation, feline food allergies, and feline inflammatory bowel disease.
- At the end of the page, there are links to take you to other feline health GI problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and others.
- Also at the bottom of this page are cat health questions about vomiting from readers accompanied by my answers. Your comments are welcome.
following email from a reader is accompanied by my answer which includes
an in-depth look at the way cat vomiting cases are diagnosed and
treated. This should give you a great deal of insight into the
possible causes of vomiting in your own cats and help you decide when to
call the vet.
"For the past few months, my 3-year-old cat has been throwing up a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day. My vet has tested her blood, done x-rays, changed her to a low residue food but nothing seems to help. My cat also has chewed all the fur off her right shoulder blade. I have her wearing a soft collar for now, until it heals, but I'm afraid it will happen again.
You can tell from the way the above email is signed that cat vomiting scares us.
Unfortunately, many (all?) cats vomit from time to time. Some cats vomit every week and yet, there is nothing physically wrong with them. Others vomit once monthly. Some vomit only in the summer months; others, year-round. There is a large range of normal when it comes to the frequency of cat vomiting.
First, let's look at the above question and analyze the various parts of it and decide if we should be seriously concerned about this particular case of cat vomiting or not.
The cat is 3 years old. That's young. What can a young cat have that could cause vomiting that is serious?
(1) Young cats get into things that they may swallow. They are playful and interested in string, yarn, rubber bands, just about anything. They may chew on plants, knock things over, lick or eat things they shouldn't and do other mischievous things. This can lead to cat vomiting from intestinal obstruction.
(2) Cats of any age can get into something poisonous
that could cause vomiting. Household cleaners, human medications which
can be very different from feline medications and therefore toxic,
pesticides, and anti-freeze are a few of the more common toxins.
Those are the two most common causes of cat vomiting in a cat that is only 3 years old. Other less serious causes would include parasites indicating the need for cat worm medicine, a virus, ingestion of grass or a little fabric or plastic, a cat hairball which may be helped with a cat lubricant such as Laxatone and increased brushing by the owner, eating too quickly, feline food allergies, and anxiety.
Lowest on the list of causes of vomiting in a 3 year old cat would be cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and other metabolic diseases.
Of course, not every case fits the norm, so anything is possible. Not probable, but possible.
This 3-year-old kitty has a fairly high frequency of vomiting which is more serious than if it were occurring less often.
has been analyzed and is normal. That rules out such things as
diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and most infections. It also
helps to eliminate ingestion of poison.
The kitty had x-rays and I assume nothing remarkable showed up on them. That gives a fairly reliable indication that there are probably no foreign bodies in the stomach or intestinal tract.
The possibility of feline food allergies was addressed by trying a low-residue diet such as a particular type of Wysong cat food or one by Royal Canin, etc. This was tried to see if it was easier to digest or if the problem could be food allergy. It seems not to have helped. What does that leave?
Cancer. Fairly unlikely due to her age.
Irritable bowel. Unlikely at this age plus the low residue diet didn't help.
That leaves parasites, viruses, hairballs, anxiety, and eating too fast -- all of which are common causes of cat vomiting.
By all means, if a fecal sample has not been looked at microscopically, it should be. You wouldn't want to miss something as simple as the need for cat worm medicine.
If it were a virus, it should be over with by now.
Hairballs are always possible, even if you never see hair in the vomit. Historically, there have been many different ways that vets and cat owners have attempted to treat cat hairballs. Lubricants, special foods, adding fiber to the diet ...these are all methods of treating hairballs. My personal favorite is to get to the source of the problem and practice prevention. Rid your cat of the loose undercoat that is ingested and leads to hairballs by brushing regularly with a FURminator.
We're left with anxiety and eating too fast as the most likely causes of this cat vomiting. Is there reason for anxiety in this cat? That's a HUGE "Yes"! A new cat joined the household in December. That alone is tremendously stressful!
Just when the stress from that may have started to subside, a BABY came along in April. Another huge stressor from the cat's point of view. Not only is there this new noisy, strange-sounding, different-smelling creature in the house, but the humans are giving all their attention to the new "creature" and not nearly as much to the cat. Now the original kitty feels "replaced" in two ways: by the addition of another cat and by the arrival of the baby.
It often happens that the addition of a new cat makes the first cat feel a sense of competition for food, even if there is always abundant food there. It can also be that the mere presence of the other cat makes the first kitty nervous while eating. That creates a nervous stomach as well as the desire to eat as quickly as possible and get away.
There's another very obvious sign of anxiety in this cat. She has chewed all the fur off her right shoulder. That makes me think this is a very anxious kitty. Not to mention the extra fur she is ingesting that may be irritating to her stomach.
Obviously, I haven't examined the cat personally and I cannot say definitely that this kitty's vomiting isn't the result of a medical cause and is definitely the result of anxiety. However, that would certainly be the first thing on my list, based on the information I've been given.
(1) I would definitely recommend using a FURminator to regularly
brush the cat. I would do this for two reasons: (a) because I
recommend that for every cat, and (b) there's still the possibility that
this cat's vomiting is caused entirely or partially by the ingested
(2)To decrease stress for the cat, I would make sure she has a private, quiet space where she can go to get away from both the baby and the other cat. A place where her own bowl of food, water, and litter box is readily available.
(3) I would enlist all members
of the family to take turns giving her extra attention. Extra
affection, more playtime with interactive cat toys, combing, and treats like these can all help her feel
(4) Feeding small amounts of food more frequently
also can help tremendously to decrease the frequency of vomiting, as can
elevating the food and water dishes. You can learn more about the benefits of elevated feeders here.
(5) If necessary, there are
feline medications such as a tranquilizer or anti-anxiety drug that can
be prescribed by your vet to be given temporarily. If that helps, it
also gives a diagnostic answer as well as some relief. Before resorting
to that, you can try a couple of over-the-counter homeopathic cat meds
that are safe for cats and relax them. Some of my clients use Bach
Rescue Remedy Spray for their cats with great success. Another wonderful tool that all stressed cats, and cats in general, benefit from is Feliway, a cat pheromone product.
If the above measures do not give improvement, then I would suggest repeating bloodwork, fecal and x-rays and possible ultrasound and perhaps get a referral to a GI specialist.
Click below to see questions or stories about cat vomiting from other cat lovers...
Cat Vomiting and Sickness
Kiko, 17 year-old siamese male cat, is thowing up anything he eats. His belly is bloated, and he is normally vibrant and isn't now. I can't take him to …
Cat vomiting blood
My 1 year old cat is vomiting a liquid with a red tint like blood constantly or whenever fed any cat food. What to do?? Please help!! Dear Archana, …
Two cats vomiting
I have two cats. One is a tuxedo about 5 years old. His name is Leo. The other is a tabby about 4 years old. His name is Ozzy. Both cats have been vomiting …
KITTY HAS GAS IN INTESTINE AND VOMITING MUCUS!!
HELLO, My 3.5 year old cats name is Dancer! Starting last Friday, my kitty lost her voice. It sounded like Donald Duck every time she meowed! Then, …
Cat Is Vomiting
Why is my cat vomiting? ANSWER Without having any information about your cat or about the vomiting episode(s), I couldn't begin to give you any …
Cat Vomiting Blood
QUESTION: My cat is 17 years old totally an inside cat. She has always thrown up either hairball or food. Recently I have noticed a SMALL (pea size) …
Cat Eats Plastic Bags and Vomits
Hi, Doc.... Our cat eats plastic bags and soon thereafter vomits. My girlfriend and I always try to remove any accessable bags from the cat. Unfortunately, …
Cat Health Vomiting
Babe is 12+ years of age (human years), Domestic Shorthair Tabby. She is overweight, and very possibly bloated. For the last 5+ years she has what appears …
Cat symptoms help
My cat has been throwing up what looks like saliva and has been leaking a clear odorless fluid from her bottom. I also notice that her poop is very watery. …
Possibly Bloody Cat Vomit
My male cat is a longhair indoor cat, approximately 4 years old, who has just vomited a pinkish, relatively clear, substance, which seems to have small …
Grass For Hairball
Dear Doctor, I couldn't describe how happy I was finding you here, with abundant helpful knowledge and information on cats. I have 5 Persian cats, …
My cat has been throwing up after everytime she eats
Hi Dr. Neely, My cat Princess Callie is about 12 years old, give or take. She is very healthy and is strictly an indoor cat. Today we discovered she …
Regular cat vomiting episodes: Once a month for an 8-hour period
Hello, I have a 15-year old tabby who is a few pounds heavier than he should be. Back in 2008, I took him to the vet regarding lethargy, and he was …
Cat vomiting, diarrhea, and my pregnancy
Hello my name is Sarah and my cat’s name is Isabella. She is a large mix breed and is very fat, topping the charts at 18 lbs. For the past couple of years, …
Vomiting in Older Male Cat
I have a 14-year-old male cat that has spent his whole life indoors. Has only had shoots one time before being boarded for a week 10 years ago. Over the …
Cat throwing up 4 times in 10 days.
Last month we went on vacation for 12 days, and our cat, Huey, got fatter. It is one month later and in the past 10 days Huey has thrown up his food 4 …
Older Kitten eating a lot and vomits
Hi, I have a kitten that is about 10 months old. She is spayed and has all of her shots. She lives outside, but our climate is warm year round. …
Cat is vomiting all the time
My cat has been vomiting for the last year. Sometimes he would stop for 2 or 3 months and then it starts again. I have cut back on his food just give him …
Sick 13 year old Cat.
My 13 year old cat has recently been throwing up a yellow or clear mucus or throwing up a solid orange color. We brought her to the vet where all her blood …
4 Cats Vomiting
I have 4 cats all of them are throwing up, one of them the week before was brought into the emergency room for deyhdration, not eatting and kidney failure, …
My cat Billy was very sick last week and was throwing up...not just in one spot, it was splattering everywhere... i took him to the vet after 2 days and …
Cat With Fever Throwing Up
QUESTION: I have an eight yr. old cat that started throwing up Friday. She was gagging and throwing up foamy looking liquid. I took her to the vet …