Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

Why does my cat keep throwing up?

Written By: Bonnie Begg & Nicole Kay, Just Cats

Cats and throwing up often go hand in hand. Have a cat? Tiger threw up again. Want to adopt a cat? Fair warning, they throw up! Have some spray cleaner and paper towels handy! But when is repeated vomiting a cause for concern?

Cat owners often ask, “Is it normal for my cat to throw up?” Well, just like their humans, cats can often get upset stomachs. It could be they just ate something bad, it could be a parasite or something more serious.

Some of the most common reasons cats throw up are:

1. Hairballs / Furballs

Hairballs (furballs) are undigested, wads of fur that clump in your cat's stomach as a result of your cat's self-grooming. Hairballs are especially common in longhaired cats, and cats that groom excessively. Hacking noises and spasms commonly accompany vomiting if your cat is trying to rid itself of hairballs.

In the majority of cases, hairballs are easily brought up by cats, but if your cat is experiencing difficulties when trying to expel a hairball it's time to see a vet. Occasionally hairballs become trapped and can lead to intestinal blockages which may be fatal.

2. Eating Too Fast

If your kitty eats too much food, too quickly, vomiting will likely result soon after they eat. If your cat often eats quickly then vomits, there are a number of fun cat bowls available to help slow your cat's eating and help to prevent vomiting such as the Doc & Phoebe Slow Feeder.

That said, vomiting right after eating could be an indication of a more serious health issue such as hairballs, a digestive tract obstruction, dehydration, or esophageal issues. If your cat frequently vomits right after eating, it's time to visit the vet.

3. Food Sensitivities (the most common!)

Many cat parents assume that cats throw up frequently. This is not the case and it's normal for a cat to throw up once to twice a year. Weekly and even daily throw up is a cause of concern and many people don't think that it could be the food that your cat is eating. Cats can have sensitive stomachs and food allergies just like humans. Many cat food brands contain chicken and fish, which are two huge culprits of cat food sensitivity. If you suspect your cat is allergic to chicken and/or fish, safely switch over to a protein that is less hot such as turkey, rabbit and duck, just to name a few.

Cats can also be very sensitive to additives in cat food such as wheat, corn, soy, pea protein, veggies and fruits. Pet food brands add these to our cat's foods to lower their costs in production. Cats are obligate carnivores and should only eat a food that is high in protein. Check the ingredient list to see if there are any ingredients that may be causing your cat's vomiting.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

How do I know if I should take my cat to the vet?

You may say to yourself, “Eh, it’s normal. All cats throw up, Snowball will be fine.” Pet parents should be aware that if your cat vomits more often than once a month, or keeps vomiting repeatedly, it's time to see your vet to determine the underlying cause of your cat's vomiting.

If your cat is vomiting periodically or infrequently, avoid giving your cat any food for about 12 hours. Provide kitty with a couple of tablespoons of water every 30 minutes or provide them with ice cubes during this brief fasting period. After 12 hours begin providing your cat with small amounts of bland food and gradually return to normal feeding if vomiting has stopped. We especially like Beechnut Baby Food (chicken, turkey, or beef) to help your kitty get over their tummy issues. Always check with your veterinarian on safe foods to give to your cat and when in doubt, a trip to the emergency room if needed.

If your cat is experiencing repeated bouts of vomiting, you should contact your vet immediately. Continuous or severe vomiting could be a sign that your cat is seriously ill and requires immediate treatment. Contact your vet if your cat displays any of the symptoms below: 

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Blood in vomit
  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Pain/distress
  • Fever
  • Blood in stool

The most important thing is to keep a watchful eye on your kitty if they are throwing up. You know them best, and if they are not acting like themselves something might be up. Kitties are also masters of hiding pain, so if something seems off listen to that little voice and get them to your vet!

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