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Is Your Vomiting Cat Sick?

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HGlick has rescued and placed stray cats for over 20 years and has personally fostered more than ten during that time


When your cat keeps throwing up it does not necessarily signal that an illness is present. A number of diseases and upsets in your cat are associated with vomiting, It is a fact, however, that cats vomit more easily than most other animals and frequently this action represents flushing out of toxins from the body rather than an imminent illness. Some cats seem to do so almost at will, at times for no apparent reason.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Cat Vomiting?

A vomiting cat might expel undigested food and then eat it again. A mother may vomit her food so that her kittens will have a soft, predigested meal. As a general rule, the longer the interval between eating and vomiting, the lower the digestive tract is. Therefore, if your cat throws up after eating, there is usually nothing to worry about.

Vomiting which is not related to eating frequently is associated with an infectious disease or central nervous system disorder.

The most common cause of vomiting is eating grass or some other indigestible material such as hair, which irritates the stomach. Almost every cat experiences this at one time or another. Overeating, or eating too fast are two other common causes. If your cat vomits once or twice, but appears perfectly normal and shows no signs of illness, his condition is probably not serious and can be treated at home.

The serious causes of vomiting are infectious diseases, ingestion of poisons such as antifreeze or drugs (ex: aspirin), peritonitis, and gastritis (stomach ache). Infectious diseases associated with vomiting include feline panleukopenia, tonsillitis, sore throat, and acute metritis.

Most of the time it is possible to get a clue to your cat's problem by noticing how he vomits and what he vomits.


What Serious Conditions Cause A Cat to Vomit?

The following types of vomiting may be serious:

Repeated vomiting: The cat vomits his food, followed by a clear frothy liquid. This type of vomiting usually suggests a stomach irritant such as grass, hairballs, or spoiled food, but also may suggest an infectious disease.

Sporadic vomiting: The cat vomits on and off but not continuously. There is usually no relation to meals and appetite is poor. The cat has a tired look. This could suggest a disorder of one of the internal organs like the liver or kidneys. It could also suggest either gastritis or diabetes. A vet call is definitely in order.

Vomiting blood: Your cat vomiting blood, fresh blood, indicates a break in the mucous lining somewhere between the mouth and the upper small bowel. The most common cause is a foreign body, but this might also suggest the presence of a tumor or an ulcer. This condition is serious and also warrants a trip to the vet.

Fecal vomiting: If a cat vomits material that looks and smells like stool, he probably has an obstruction low in his intestinal tract or there is a penetrating abdominal wound. This condition will cause immediate dehydration due to loss of fluids and salts and needs to be immediately taken care of by a professional.

Projectile vomiting: This is a forceful type of vomiting in which the stomach content is ejected suddenly at a considerable distance. It usually indicates a complete blockage of the upper gastrointestinal tract. It could be a harmless foreign object like a hairball or a more severe cause like a tumor or encephalitis.

Vomiting foreign objects: Hairballs, pieces of cloth, bone splinters, sticks, and stones all can become too large to pass out of the stomach. These can be vomited by themselves, or with a clear frothy liquid. Kittens with heavy roundworm infestations might also vomit adult worms. These kittens must be treated.

Emotional Vomiting: Highly sensitive cats will vomit when upset, excited jealous, or in need of attention.

Motion Sickness: Cats might suffer from car sickness. The usual signs are restlessness followed by salivation, yawning, nausea, and vomiting. Dramamine (12.5 mg) might become helpful if this behavior persists.

Your cat throwing up does not always require professional attention, but you should become aware of behavior patterns that exist before and during the act, to best treat the underlying cause.

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 References: The Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M and James M. Giffin, M.D. - First Edition

  • Cat Health Problems
    Common cat health problems range from simple inconveniences to life-threatening accidents and illnesses. If you notice any unusual behavior in your cat or kitten (especially things like not eating, constipation, lethargy, or a dull coat), you should

Chronic Vomiting in Cats - Part I

Chronic Vomiting in Cats - Part 2

Causes For Vomiting in Cats


Sheila on September 01, 2018:

My cat had X-rays..and blood work is negative...she taken antibiotics for 2 vomiting..she is now vomitting again... After every meal which is twice a day.. vomit is coming out like chunks of food that didn't digest..this has been going on for 8 months.. what is happening?

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on January 29, 2014:

There are numerous reasons for throwing up. He may have ingested something that he shouldn't have. If this

behavior continues I would seek professional help.

bevsell7 on January 29, 2014:

My cat 1yr started throwing up light brown liquid 1 day ago. This morning he was sitting over the water bowl. He took a few drinks. Will not eat & is lying around. The liquid had no particles in it at all. He is usually very active & has no problems eating. No plants in the house for him to eat. He is an only cat. Same cat food. Can't figure out his problems. He has urinated in the litter box, but bowels have not moved, but he has not eaten.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 23, 2012:

SandyCats, You should observe his behavior for a few days. If he continues crying when you touch his stomach, or he doesn't eat, you should get him to a vet immediately.

SandyCats on May 22, 2012:

I gave my cat a bath 2 days ago and yesterday he threw up an epic hairball. I figured that stemmed from him licking himself dry catching all of that hair. Well today, he is definetly not himself, he doesn't want to be petted or loved. When I touch his belly he whines a little. And he can't seem to get comfortable. I put a little vasoline on his paws to maybe induce vomiting to maybe get another hairball out. What else should I do?

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on May 06, 2012:

Matt, Good Luck

Matt on May 06, 2012:

Our female gave birth on Friday night to 8 kittens, after caring throughout the night she was eating food line it was going out of fashion, she is bringing the food back up from time to time but is still very interested in the food and water, she has a slight diariha

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on September 20, 2011:

thank you for the kind words timcgaa70. You may absolutely share this with others.

tlmcgaa70 from south dakota, usa on September 19, 2011:

excellent hub. as a rescuer of cats i have had to deal with many types of vomiting. voted up, useful and interesting. also would like to share this on twitter and facebook for my cat loving friends if you don't mind.

Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on September 02, 2011:

Makes me sick to think of my little cats getting sick. Fortunately so far, they have only vomited due to hairballs or eating too much grass. Really good info here though, I never knew there were so many different reasons. Thanks for sharing!

lilash84 from TX on August 21, 2011:

good info!

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on July 10, 2011:

Zannie, eating too fast is a common habit of cats. My cats do it all the time, and frequently leave behind messes.

PegCole, that is correct. You can confirm the absence of a health problem if your Auntie's cat does not change it's eating habits or behavior.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 10, 2011:

You have eased my mind on this subject. My 91 yo Auntie's cat occasionally throws up and I was concerned. Sounds like it is pretty normal for cats to do.

Zannie10 on July 15, 2010:

You are definitely correct with this. My cat vomits quite often and it is because she has a sensitive stomach and eats her food too fast. Vets can definitely help if one doesn't know why his or her cat is vomitting.

brettb from London on July 09, 2010:

I think cats vomit just to annoy us.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on July 08, 2010:

thank you Ceholmes and Debby

Debby Bruck on July 07, 2010:

Great Hub. Thank you so much. Debby

cooly on May 27, 2010:

i don't know f my cat has an illness

ceholmes from Chicago on May 19, 2010:

great article, but that cat pic is something else! lol.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on April 16, 2010:

littlemelch, this article does not claim to be the foremost authority on "why a cat vomits" . It is meant to be a general guide. You are free to seek information from numerous other sources on the internet regarding vomiting cats, If you don't feel your questions are answered here.

Also, you should take all comments with a grain of salt. They definitely do not claim to be experts.

littlemelch on April 15, 2010:

I find this article irresponsible in that it completely skips over a number of very important reasons why cats vomit. For example, chronic projectile vomiting is a symptom of renal (kidney) failure issues and it can be managed with a renal diet (which also can extend the cat's life). People here are commenting that barfing after eating is because they eat to fast. Sometimes, yes, and sometimes NO!! Sometimes the problem is much worse.

Cindy Letchworth from Midwest, U.S.A. on April 15, 2010:

Thanks for all the info here. You've provided some good things to consider should an owner have this problem.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on April 10, 2010:

Excellent info LucyBelle

LucyBelle on April 10, 2010:

My two cats suffered from car sickness,nausea and vomiting. I couldn't even take them on a very short trip. I tried Dramamine but it didn't work. An antistatic strap solved my problem.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on January 02, 2010:

Thank You Lady G for your kind comments

Debra Allen from West By God on January 02, 2010:

Thank you very much for this article. I have a few outdoor cats that will vomit right after they eat. Now I know why. I assumed they were sick when it really is tht they ate too fast. It usually is right after I feed them in the morning. They don't do it at any other time and then after they do it they act as if nothing happened. They will continue to munch the rest of the day. I cannot keep food down for them at night because I have raccoons and possums that will come and eat it and think it is free food and they have the right to it.

Thanks again for your hub!

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on January 02, 2010:

engagementring, cats vomit for many benign reasons and are not necessarily sick.

Hongliang Zhang from China on January 01, 2010:

Here kitten is too cute!

EngagementRing from Los Angeles on December 21, 2009:

This article caught my attention, I have 4 cats and they all vomit from time to time but they are all old and the vet says that they're alright.

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on October 03, 2009:

Hairball vomiting is very common. Yes stars that's what it probably is related to

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on October 03, 2009:

our cat missy is very particular and dainty. she is pretty long haired white and once in a great while she will upchuck food. we think it might be hair ball related. informative articles that are very good. god bless

hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on September 03, 2009:

yes indeed Leslie, those quick eating cats sometimes can be cured by feeding them small portions periodically until their limit is reached

Leslie Broussard on September 03, 2009:

The hairball gels seems to really work well.

My cats typically vomit from eating too quickly. Very annoying, but thankfully no illness.

Thanks for the hub!


hglick (author) from Riverhead,NY on July 26, 2009:

Yes Peggy, you are quite correct. Hairballs are the most common irritant. There are many hairball remedy dry foods made by popular brands like ONE and IAMS. In addition, there is an inexpensive remedy that you can pick up at your local Petco or WalMart called Petromalt. It comes in a squeeze tube. You squeeze a small amount onto the paws of your cat and they will lick it clean.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 26, 2009:

Ours are inside cats and hairballs seem to be the most common irritant. Since we have changed to more expensive cat food with no artificial dyes, there seems to be much less of that. Also does not stain the carpet as much when they do have the occasional incident.

Charia Samher on June 07, 2009:

Yeah I think it's kinda normal thing for cats to vomit. I always see one in the neighborhood.

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