Why Does My Cat Keep Vomiting?
The Reasons Cats Throw Up

Cat owners often hold deep concern when their feline companions exhibit regular bouts of vomiting around the house and in the garden. It can be a common behaviour, so it is important to understand the reasons why cats throw up and to know when to worry about vomiting in cats and seek veterinary attention.

In this article, we offer a guide to help you navigate the different types of cat vomit, what causes cats to vomit, and home remedies. If you’re constantly wondering, ‘Why does my cat throw up so much?’, we will show you how to effectively manage and comfort your precious pet, ensuring their health and well-being.

Frightened tabby cat shrinking at the window with dilated pupils.
Frightened tabby cat shrinking at the window with dilated pupils.

Why Does My Cat Throw Up?

So, what causes cats to vomit? The answers range from simple, everyday instinctual behaviours to more complex and concerning health issues. To identify the reasons cats throw up, we must observe the frequency, content, and associated symptoms, as it will help us learn more about the cause. It is important to understand that frequent vomiting in cats is not normal, and should be investigated by your veterinarian.

Here is a list of potential triggers for when a cat keeps vomiting:

  • Disagreeable Diet: Cats may vomit after ingesting food that doesn't agree with them.
  • Hairballs: A common issue where cats vomit the hair they accumulate in their stomach during grooming.
  • Parasites: Internal parasites can lead to gastrointestinal distress.
  • Foreign bodies: Ingesting non-digestible objects can cause vomiting.
  • Toxins: Exposure to poisonous substances can result in vomiting.
  • Medical Conditions: Diseases like dietary intolerance or hypersensitivity, kidney failure, or hyperthyroidism.
  • Medications: Certain drugs can induce vomiting as a side effect.
  • Stress: Emotional stress can manifest in physical symptoms like vomiting.

Vomiting in Cats – When to Worry

As a responsible pet owner, monitoring and providing for your cat’s health is paramount. Occasional vomiting might not be a cause for alarm, but certain signs should prompt a visit to the vet. Be concerned if vomiting is frequent, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, diarrhea, or weight loss. As general rule of thumb, regardless of other signs, if your cat vomits more than twice a month or if the vomiting frequency increases, you should seek veterinary care. Vomiting can indicate anything from a dietary issue to a serious health condition. If you notice any signs of distress, obstruction (like difficulty in swallowing), if your cat is throwing up after eating, or if the vomit contains blood or is like coffee grounds, seek veterinary attention immediately. These could be signs of serious health issues requiring prompt treatment.  If in doubt, speak to your vet.

The Different Types of Cat Vomit

It might not be the most pleasant topic of study, but some clear and distinct types of cat vomit can provide insights into your cat's health. By familiarising yourself with these different types, you can learn more about what causes cats to vomit, distinguishing between a forceful ejection of stomach contents and other phenomena like coughing or regurgitation.

Here's an expanded look at various types of cat vomit:

  • Cat vomits after eating: A cat puking after eating their meals implies the food did not progress from the stomach, potentially due to food intolerances, allergies, obstructions, or other upper gastrointestinal tract irritations. The timing of the cat's last meal may be important for diagnosis.
  • Cat vomiting bile: Vomiting bile – a yellow or greenish substance – often happens on an empty stomach. It could suggest conditions like gastritis or inflammation of the intestines.
  • Cat hairball vomit: Hairballs are common, especially in long-haired breeds. Hairball vomit usually contains undigested hair and can be tubular in shape.
  • Cat vomiting blood: Known as haematemesis, this can be a sign of a serious condition, such as gastrointestinal ulcers, infections, or even poisoning. Blood in vomit may originate from the mouth, oesophagus, or stomach.
  • Brown cat vomit: This could be due to the food eaten, but if it's dark brown and smells foul, it might indicate issues further down the digestive tract, even bleeding.
  • Clear cat vomit: Usually just gastric juice and can occur when the cat has an empty stomach or is regurgitating saliva or water from its oesophagus.

Each type of cat vomit can indicate different health issues, ranging from minor to serious. Taking note of the characteristics of the vomit may help your veterinarian in investigating and diagnosing the cause.

How to Treat Cat Vomiting

If you want to know how to effectively treat your cat’s vomiting, you need to first understand why your cat keeps vomiting. It is recommended to speak with your veterinarian before implementing any  at-home treatment to manage vomiting in cats.

Veterinarians typically start with investigating the underlying cause, which could involve tests and sometimes medication. Under the advice of your veterinarians, some home remedies for cat vomiting may include:

  • Ensuring your cat stays hydrated, especially if they're losing fluids through vomiting
  • Providing a bland diet or small, frequent meals 
  • Offering anti-vomiting medication (only after receiving veterinary advice).

Remember, while some causes of vomiting can be managed at home, persistent or severe symptoms require professional medical attention.

FAQs on Why Do Cats Vomit & More

  • Why is my cat gagging but not throwing up?

    Gagging without vomiting in cats could be due to hairballs, which are common in cats, especially those with longer fur, due to their intensive licking/grooming methods. It might also indicate a respiratory issue, like asthma, or a foreign object caught in the throat – it could even be a sign of dental or throat problems! As such, if gagging occurs frequently or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as coughing or breathing difficulties, consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination.

  • How do vets diagnose what’s wrong with my cat?

    Veterinarians follow a systematic approach to diagnose the cause of vomiting in cats. Initially, they'll take a detailed medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. They may inquire about the cat's diet, environment, frequency and appearance of vomit, as well as their other symptoms. They may also require diagnostic tests, including:


    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests
    • Faecal examination
    • X-rays
    • Ultrasound

    These tests will identify underlying issues such as infections, obstructions, or organ dysfunction. The vet's approach will be tailored to the cat's specific symptoms and health history.

  • Why is my cat vomiting a lot, but acting normal?

    Although it's not uncommon for cats to experience episodes of vomiting yet appear otherwise healthy, it is important to remember that frequent vomiting is not normal. There are many reasons cats throw up, including hairballs, dietary indiscretion (like eating too quickly or consuming something they shouldn't), or mild stomach upset. More frequent vomiting can also be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders, parasites, or even chronic diseases. Continuous observation and a vet consultation will help you to determine the cause and if any home remedies are needed to quell your cat vomiting.

  • How do I comfort a vomiting cat?

    Comforting a cat that's vomiting involves a few steps:


    • Firstly, ensure they have access to clean water to prevent dehydration
    • Create a calm environment, too, free from aggravations and disturbances, as stress can exacerbate the problem
    • Try withholding food for a short period, then reintroduce a bland diet in small, frequent meals
    • Gentle patting and a warm, quiet resting place can also help.

    If the vomiting is frequent, severe or continuous, or associated with other signs like lethargy or weight loss, seek veterinary care for appropriate treatment and advice.

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