Is Your Cat Throwing Up?

There are so many conditions that can lead to a cat throwing up, they are almost too numerous to list. They include feline diabetes, cat hairballs, intestinal parasites, heart-worm, bad cat food, feline hyperthyroidism, feline constipation, and many other conditions, some serious and others of little consequence.

Unfortunately, when a cat throws up, you really have no idea why most of the time. If your kitty appears otherwise healthy, is acting fine, eating and drinking, hasn't lost weight, and it's a one time occurrence, then you probably don't need to do anything.

Keep in mind however, that cats can quickly become dehydrated due to their small size. If your kitty vomits repeatedly or isn't drinking and eating, you need to take her to the vet right away.

Hello Dr. Neely,

I have a question about my cat throwing up. I read your other answers on cat vomiting and thank you in advance.

My cat, a 4-year-old Maine Coon mix, has always thrown up a hairball every 6 months or so. It is definitely a hairball. I can see it in the vomit.

Two months ago, he vomited two or three times in one week. I think it was vomit due to the consistency and I could see some of the food in it. I had just started giving him a new food, so I stopped giving him that food.

He had not thrown up again until this week when he has thrown up 3 times, along with one hairball. He is happy, playful and runs around right afterwards. He eats well or the same and his bowel habits are totally the same. He does not have diarrhea. I am so worried that my cat throwing up indicates it is liver disease or something. I don't know what to do. He has never thrown up like this.

My husband thinks that it is all linked to the hairball. He also thinks that maybe it is because of some roaches we have been getting recently. We have been having an exterminator come to spray once a week for 2 months. Maybe he has been eating roaches? Maybe he has been eating the spray? The exterminator said it was safe for pets and kids - we also have a 2-year-old.

Since the exterminator came, we have been putting his food away at night, so I know that sometimes he does eat fast. Maybe that could lead to one vomiting session? But the other ones were random. I do not know if it was after he ate or not, or whether it was too fast.

It is just so odd because he has never thrown up and then to throw up so often in one week really worries me. I don't want to take him unnecessarily to the vet because he really hates to go and hates being in his carrier.

Thank you in advance!

Hi, Beth:

If a cat throwing up has a normal appetite, normal litter habits, and is acting as he always has, then there is a good chance the cat is healthy. Feline vomiting is often caused by cat hairballs. Hairballs in cats are quite common and you don't have to see a cat hairball in the vomit or even any hair at all for it to be hair in the stomach causing irritation and thus producing cat vomit.

Vomiting in cats, of course, can be caused by many other things, including many treatable causes. Eating too fast is certainly one cause. Cats that are too hungry may eat too quickly. It is possible, as you mentioned, that after having the food put away during the night, your kitty could eat too quickly when it is put back out.

I worry about using any type of extermination around cats. My experience has been that just about every exterminator swears their products are safe for pets and kids, but can ANYONE really say that? The long-term effects for any particular person or animal are impossible to predict. Also, cats, in particular, have difficulty processing toxins because their livers do not have quite the same capability to break down toxic substances as the livers of people or dogs. Many things that tend not to harm us can actually kill your cat.

Other causes of a cat throwing up include parasites, irritable bowel, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, liver disease,constipation, and many other conditions. The various causes of feline vomiting are almost too numerous to count.

My gut feeling is that your kitty is simply suffering from cat hairballs. Understand, of course, that without an exam and laboratory tests, I cannot possibly know for sure. However, your cat is young, has thrown up cat hairballs in the past, including the recent one, is playful and active, eats well, and has normal bowel habits. That sounds like a healthy kitty.

He also is a Maine Coon mix and, therefore, has quite a bit of hair. He is likely to have a cat hairball now and then. Also, if it is Spring where you live, this is the season when you would potentially see more cat hairballs due to the shedding of his winter coat.

If your cat throwing up is otherwise healthy and is young, it is usually the case that you can use a hairball remedy such as Laxatone, brush your kitty often with a good deshedding tool such as the FURminator and give it some time.

Thank you for your question about feline vomiting. I hope your kitty continues to be well.

Dr. Neely

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