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Your Cat Throwing Up?

Nov 1, 2011 · Updated Sep 28, 2014 · ·
  1. Anne
    Cats tend to throw up stuff every now and again. If you share your life with a cat, you probably know the picture and the soundtrack, too: your cat meowing loudly in a low-pitched tone, heaving and retching pitifully until some intermediate wet mass comes out of her mouth. Scary as it may seem to cat newbies, your greatest concern is usually with cleaning up the mess, as the cat appears to be much better and walks away calmly.

    So, why did it happen? Can it be prevented from happening again? Should you talk to your vet about this?

    There can be many reasons for your cat throwing up, some more alarming than others. Here are some of the more common ones:


    While technically they are being coughed up from within the digestive system, hairballs are more specific in nature. You won’t be seeing a ball, but a sausage-shaped wad of wet hair, along with some slimy fluids. Read here all about how hairballs are formed and how to prevent them.

    Eating Habits

    Having too much food in a single meal, or eating it too fast, may trigger vomiting. This is especially true of dry food, which can then easily be seen, only semi-digested, in whatever the cat has brought up. If food regurgitation happens on a daily basis, talk to your vet about it. You may need to monitor meal sizes and spread them out throughout the day.

    Objects, Strange Foods and poisons

    Some cats, especially kittens, will try to eat things out of curiosity. Or, they may just swallow a piece of a toy when playing. Remember that cats tongues are one-way tracks - once faced with something unpalatable, your cat is more likely to swallow than to spit it out.

    The problem begins when your cat either has swallowed something poisonous, or can’t bring up whatever object it was that went in. If you see your cat struggling and retching without bringing up anything - call your vet. If you see any other symptoms as well - it’s time to call the vet and rule out poisoning.

    Read and bookmark this article: What To Do If You Suspect Your Cat Ingested Poison

    Parasites and vomiting in cats

    Severe worm infestations can cause vomiting. This is a particularly gross symptom, but yes, live spaghetti-like worms will be visible in the vomit. Such an advanced infestation requires immediate veterinary attention.

    Illness and Diseases

    Vomiting is a symptom shared by a multitude of medical problems. Viral infections, Salmonella, liver or kidney issues, cancer... the list is virtually endless and only your vet can narrow it down and find the cause. Whenever your cat vomits and shows other symptoms of illness, call your vet immediately.

    And Finally.... Stress

    Stress alone can trigger vomiting episodes in some cats. This can actually be a cause for concern, if happening too often. Frequent vomiting is always a medical issue, as it can cause your cat to become dehydrated and lose weight and essential nutrients in the long term.

    Read more about stress in cats here -
    How to Tell if Your Cat is Stressed Out
    Six Surefire Strategies to Reduce Stress in Cats
    Potential Stressors in Cats - The Ultimate Checklist

    So, what to do if your cat is vomiting?

    Check to see if your cat is coughing up hairballs or vomiting something else. If you see hairballs, try lessening the frequency with some of the techniques detailed in our article about hairballs.

    Consult with your vet asap if -
    • Your cat is vomiting more than once or twice on the same day
    • Your cat vomits more than once a week, call your vet.
    • You’re seeing anything but digested food in the vomit (parasites, blood, or anything out of the ordinary).
    • Your cat is showing other symptoms such as diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, or any other sign of illness.

    Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

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  1. jinxybean
    My newly adopted cat has a problem with vomiting. At least once per day, sometimes twice. Her bloodwork, fecal exam and physical exam were excellent and the vet suggested the vomiting is either from eating too much at once or from stress. A week of tiny (tablespoon-sized), frequent meals alleviated the problem somewhat but she would still vomit occasionally after eating a very small amount of food. I decided to tackle stress as a cause before sending her back to the vet for x-rays, so I started giving her a teaspoon of wet pate food mixed with 4 drops of Bach's Stress Remedy 15 minutes before feeding her a meal, and the problem resolved itself. No more vomiting and she can eat more at one time, too. She's also more relaxed and curious now, and more willing to play since giving her the Stress Remedy drops. Our house is quiet, no children or dogs, and just one other senior cat. Bach's Stress Remedy might not work as well if the environment is actively stressful - fyi.
  2. Starznight
    I have two rescue brothers, Spree and Necco. Necco is fine, but poor Spree is on a power puke phase. I do fully intend to bring him to the vet first thing in the morning, but was trying to get some fluids and a bit of protein back into him and he’s petrified of poached chicken! Like violently shoves the bowl away into the awaiting mouth of his brother who has been with him since birth.

    Necco LOVES poached chicken and broth, but Spree will not eat it at all, I even tried putting it in a syringe to give to him and after a few drops got in his mouth he went into hiding. Could he be allergic to chicken? Or does it seem more like he might have had some dark insidious chicken trauma in the 6 months of his life before we got him that his brother was blissfully unaware of?
    1. Starznight
      Guessing it’s some dark chicken trauma from the past. After going to the vet today it was determined he’s allergic to fish . So our changing the flavor of purina one from the chicken formula to the salmon/tuna is what set off the vomit sessions.
  3. suecollins1989
    Hi I'm new to this and really need help at the beginning of this month my one year old cat was sick a lot so took him to the vets and they found on the scan that he swallowed a hair band , so they removed it but the problem is he is still being sick and has got a temp , He was being sick after the op which the vets said it was normal but it went on for days so I took him back down and they had to keep him over night and do a scan , there was nothing wrong with him but he wasn't healing as fast as he should be so they remove the stitches and he seem fine then two days later so took him to the vets again they told me that he's not healing he's not putting weight on and he doesn't want to eat the food that he should be but he has eaten two mouth full of white fish but has been sick about 10 hours later the vets have given me medication for him to have which is helping and got to do it twice a day . But I was wondering if this has happen to anyone as I really don't want to put him down but if I have to I will for him and his happiness and it is worrying me so much as I love him and hate seeing him like this !! I have tried him on rice and fish and even chicken and eggs but he doesn't want it ... so please can someone tell me that I'm over worrying and it's should be ok
  4. peaches123
    peaches is eating her prescription food a bit more each day, but this morning she has dry heaves. Any ideas as to why?  thnx! 
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