No, It’s Not Normal – Why Cats Vomit And How To Make It Stop

Why Cats Vomit

Everybody spews, it’s a fact of life. Gross, yes. Necessary, sure. Normal…not so much. Why cats vomit is a mystery to many of us, but the real mystery is why we think it’s ok.

Think about the last time you had a chuck, was it fun? I think not. I’m guessing you felt awful and it tasted disgusting, but you were able to pinpoint what might have caused it. Whether it was a nasty bug or a few too many martinis the night before, I’m guessing you also took steps to make it better and had a good long think about how to avoid it in the future. It makes sense to do the same for your feline friend.

Don’t watch this video if you hate techno – or if you’re eating. I warned you.

Vomiting is the forceful ejection of the stomach contents via the mouth, and if you’re really unlucky, via the nose as well. As feral as that sounds, it’s the body’s way of dealing with something it doesn’t want. Throwing up is a symptom of something and considering your cat doesn’t drink martinis, it’s your job to play detective and figure out what that something is.

 

It’s Fine. My Cat’s Just a Puker

Nope. I’m not buying that. It’s true that some kitties chunder on a semi-regular basis, but the fact still remains: there’s something on the inside of your cat that needs to be on the outside.

Excuses for frequent barfing in cats include hairballs, sensitive stomachs, eating too fast and my personal favourite “it’s just what my cat does. It’s no big deal”. Ok so maybe it’s not a big deal, but it is definitely some kind of deal and something that needs to be addressed.

Spewing Cat - Why Cats Vomit

Let me drive my point home – unless you’re a creature that needs to regurgitate to feed its young, regurgitating is not normal. Even yacking up hairballs is not normal and should be investigated, for the sake of your cat as well as for the sake of your carpet.

 

Don’t Panic…Yet.

Most of the reasons your cat might be spewing are fairly harmless and easy to fix. I say harmless because they’re commonly not symptoms of big bad diseases and can be solved by making a few small tweaks to your cat’s lifestyle. There’s no need to panic, but do make note of what’s going on and do what you can to make it stop.

Panic Button - Treatment Cat VomitingEven though the occasional ralph is not dangerous, it’s still unpleasant and distressing for your cat. This should be reason enough for you to want to get to the bottom of it, particularly if your kitty is of the wheezy variety. Asthma cats will do better at life in general if we work to keep them in top form and eliminate anything undesirable, including their undesirable eliminations.

 

Common Reasons Why Cats Vomit

Hairballs – we all know this one. Loose hairs get swallowed in a cat’s normal grooming routine and all being well, these hairs are passed in the faeces. Cats who eat a lot of dry food and are not properly hydrated will have trouble as their gastrointestinal system can not transport a hairball through to the other end. Feeding an appropriate, moisture rich diet and regularly brushing your cat will help to alleviate this problem.

Food issues – switching to a new food too quickly can upset the delicate little feline stomach, so if you need to change it should be done gradually. Other food issues include having too much time between meals (which causes a buildup of digestive substances that irritate the stomach) and eating too fast. You can get around both of these issues by feeding smaller meals more frequently and if you have more than one cat, feeding them separately will help with competition-based scarfing.

Cat Grass - Stop Cat VomitingEating plants or grass – the reason cats like to chew on leaves is something of a mystery, considering they are carnivores. Some houseplants are toxic to cats and should be kept out of reach of curious kitties. Try planting a cat grass garden to give your little leaf muncher something safe to nibble on.

Swallowing foreign objects – some cats will chew on whatever they can get their gobs on. Paper, plastic, hair pins, rubber bands or anything that isn’t food is obviously uncool when it’s inside your cat. If you suspect this is the case, please get to your vet or head to the emergency room as this situation can be life threatening.

Ingesting toxins – common sense tells us to keep poisons out of reach of children and pets, but even something as simple as your household cleaning products can cause your cat to hurl. Anything that gets on your cat will end up in your cat, so whatever you use to clean your surfaces should be safe for your feline family member to roll around in. If your cat has swallowed any kind of poison you’ll need to get to the vet as quickly as possible.

Vomit Fountain - Vomiting Cat

 

When to See The Vet

A cat who hurls once or twice and appears normal before and after the event is probably fine. However, if your kitty has not recently eaten and is not bringing up hairballs, there could be a serious problem that requires the attention of a vet. Look out for:

Persistent vomiting – if your cat chucks, then continues to throw up a frothy liquid after, there’s probably something wrong going on in the stomach. Hairballs or grass can also cause persistent upchucking, so keep an eye out for other signs of sickness as well.

Sporadic vomiting – a cat that hoiks on and off over a couple of days could have any Sick Cat - Causes Vomiting Catsnumber of nasty things happening inside, including diabetes, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome or a really bad hairball problem. As above, get to the vet if the vomiting continues or you notice any other signs that something’s wrong.

Vomiting blood – a very bad sign. If your cat is vomiting blood or stuff that looks like coffee grounds this could be a sign of internal bleeding.

Projectile vomiting – it’s not just for the movies. This is another very bad sign which could mean really bad hairballs, foreign objects in the stomach or blood clots in the brain.

Vomiting worms – this is a sign of a really bad worm infestation. Over the counter worming medication probably won’t cut it, so get to the vet for the strong stuff.

 

Vomiting is not a normal thing for cats to do. Even if it’s harmless and occasional, there’s something going on that needs to be addressed, so attend to your cat’s diet, grooming and environment before you panic. If your cat continues to spew for more than 24 hours, please get to the vet.

What do you think? Does your cat do the technicolour yawn? Head to the comments and share your thoughts.

 

You may also like

22 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great article on why my cat might be puking and what to do about. I’ve found Cat Grass sometimes even causes my cat to vomit a bit. I’ve read this is completely normal due to the cat grass producing folic acid. Even though it can be a mess I still provide a nice little cat grass garden for my furballs.

    Randomly off topic, but do you have any recommendations on the best ways to clean up after your kitty after an incident?

    1. Hey Craig, yeah I do have some tips, extra special for those who like/need natural remedies – I’ll be posting something about that soon so stay tuned. Interestingly, the store bought cleaner uppers don’t go well with the wheezy type cats. Not entirely surprised here…

  2. Hey!

    My cat throws up every now and then. I think it’s mostly due to hairballs but I think I’ll start to pay more attention to it. I’d hate for her to have a disease and me not knowing.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. Hey Sarah! Yeah those hairball issues might be really easy to fix, I’d be interested to know how you go with that.

  3. Sparrow(Shirley),
    Thanks for the advice. I think you’re right on when people think that it’s normal for a cat to be a “puker.” I never thought of a “moisture rich” food as being that important.
    Great, informative post.
    By the way I totally feel for the cat puking in the toilet:-0 (Although very funny)

  4. Hi Sparrow & Shirley,

    Thank you for a very informative article. I was not fully aware of all the underlying conditions which could present as vomiting.

    This will be very useful to know if the future.

    Brendan

  5. Not a nice topic but very important. I do not have cats but I would think if they were vomiting I would look into it. I had heard about the hair ball thing and it seems that most people think that is normal. Very good advice on here to make sure you know what you cat is about.

  6. I just loved your post and it did answer one question for me. Why does my cat eat grass? I have been told (by an unreliable source) that they use grass as a medicine when their tummy is upset. I notice when my cat eats grass it does make her vomit. Is my cat just quietly insane or do you think she has a problem and needs to see a vet? Her grass eating does not happen very often and I would hate to think she had something making her sick.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Your unreliable source might just be correct. Cats don’t have the right digestive enzymes to deal with a lot of grass, which is why it makes them puke. But the puking is good for clearing their stomachs of hair and feathers and any other gross things they might have swallowed. If it’s only happening occasionally it’s probably not something you have to worry about too much.

  7. Well done on your website. Its tough to see your pet having issues like this and vomiting all over a place. I’ve seen my dog vomit when he eats something that he shouldn’t have, but that’s something we all have to experience as a pet owner. Your website explains well on why this happens to cats and anyone who owns one should be aware of this at all times. Good job and keep up the good work.

  8. Wow, Such an in-depth informative article for helping me to know why the cats vomit.

    Back then I have totally no idea when a Cat “puke” and thought of just of their normal behavior. Now I know better after reading this.

    I enjoyed your article and will definitely forward this to my networks letting them know as well.

  9. Thanks for that interesting article. Our cat has the hair ball problem and I am definitely going to try and add some more moisture to her diet as you suggest and see if this helps.

    I suppose it doesn’t help that she does have a lot of hair and also loses a lot. We do try to brush her but she doesn’t like it and tries to scratch.

  10. Hello Shirley and Sparrow!

    This is good information to get out to the world. So many people think “It’s just hairballs!”. I have three cats, two shorthairs and a long hair. Even the long haired cat does not get hairballs! I think a very high quality diet helps with this as you mentioned.

    I also notice that cat grass helps my kitties with minor upset tummies. They usually do not throw it up. If they do not have access to cat grass though, they will eat houseplants and then they do throw up (not because they are toxic, just because they are tough and fibrous in this case). I have found buying cat grass in pet food stores is not worthwhile. It is usually half dead and full of bugs. I buy wheat grass for people at the grocery store. It is the exact same thing and in better shape as well as cheaper.

    One of my cats threw up all the time. The vet could never find anything wrong with him. We finally figured out he had food sensitivities and finding the right food helped with diarrhea mostly and a bit with throwing up. I figured out he had acid indigestion. He would be very worried if he didn’t have access to dry food. He would not eat a lot but wanted it available to go eat just a few kibbles at a time to help his tummy. I now give him a quarter of a Pepcid tablet twice per day (vet approved) and he rarely throws up. He really needs it however and will throw up without it. I know this is not the ideal solution and I am going to try PetAlive’s digestion supplements for him next. I love PetAlive supplements!

    Thanks for sharing this important information!
    Jessica

    1. Hi Jessica,

      Yes! I’ve NEVER had a hairball problem with any of my cats, or a vomiting problem, for that matter. Maybe I’ve just been lucky with them in that regard – you know, apart from the freaking asthma. The whole reason I discovered Sparrow had asthma was because he started puking for no reason and I thought something was not right. See, so it always pays to pay attention and know your kitty!

      I’ve found the same with cat grass over here on the other side of the world – I always buy mine from the plant nursery or grow my own. Sounds like you and I have a similar relationship with our vets…and with PetAlive. I love their stuff, too!

      Thanks for stopping by, Jessica…come back and say hi again soon!

  11. Hi Shirley,
    I just thought I would come back and say hi! I still need to try the PetAlive digestive support supplement. Have you used that one? I love all the others such as “Gumz n Teeth” and “Immunity and Liver Support”.

    Jessica

    1. Hi again Jessica! I am about to try Gumz n Teeth thanks to your recommendation, just waiting for it to arrive in the mail. They have such a lot of good stuff, don’t they?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *