Why Your Cat is Throwing Up and What To Do

Why Your Cat is Throwing Up and What To Do
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Have you recently noticed your cat throwing up? Perhaps you found some vomit under the coffee table when you were cleaning up? If so it could be a cause for concern or it could just be a common incident. Vomiting is among the many common health problems associated with cats. Many times the root of this problem can depend on what the cat eats or if they have an illness, like a urinary tract infection (UTI).


The issues associated with your feline’s health can vary and also leave you wondering, "Why my cat is throwing up?" Your cat cannot speak to you, so it's your duty to disclose what is wrong. It’s best to discover the issue and solve it as soon as possible!



Is It Normal For My Cat To Throw Up?

Cats throw up for many reasons, and it comes in many forms. Cats that throw up tend to indicate patterns associated with their vomit. If we pay attention and perform some insightful investigation, we may be able to reveal the underlying issue. It is not something rare, as healthy cats also vomit from time to time. One trigger associated with vomiting in cats is hairballs. Cats can also throw up if they consume human food that does not mesh with their digestive system.


Another reason for cats to vomit is if they have encountered an illness, such as inflammatory bowel disease, or possibly when they are suffering from constipation. It is important to learn why the cat is vomiting and determine if it is part of their normal routine or if there is something worse lingering.



cat thinking about what its done



How To Determine Normal vs. Abnormal Vomiting in Cats

So what is normal vomiting and what do you consider abnormal? As mentioned prior, it is normal for some cats to vomit a hairball every so often or possibly when they ate some cat food that was not high quality. However, when a cat vomits more than normal, as in multiple times or for days in a row, you should be concerned because it could be a sign of something serious. Hopefully, it's just a case of bad undigested food and not anything to worry about too much!


Monitor the Color

Another way to determine what is normal vs abnormal vomiting is by observing the color of what your cat regurgitates. If the vomit is yellow, it could be a sign of something serious like kidney disease or even liver failure. But it could also just be stomach bile because your cat's stomach is empty. If you see this, you need to consult a veterinarian to figure out what is wrong with your cat.


Yellow throw up can happen for many reasons, such as:


  • Inflammation in the GI tract (Gastritis)
  • Indigestion
  • Pancreatitis
  • Ingestion of a foreign object (Gastrointestinal obstruction)
  • Constipation
  • Toxin exposure
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Liver/gallbladder inflammation (Cholangiohepatitis)
  • Eating food that does not agree with the cat's GI system (Dietary indiscretion)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Different types of cancer


If you see your cat throw up red or dark brown vomit, it could signify a problem or it could just be the color of their last meal. It may indicate internal bleeding which could be a serious reason for concern. If it is blood, you should get your cat some professional attention immediately.


A few reasons a cat might throw up red or brown include:


  • Ulcers
  • Poison ingestion
  • Hemophilia (rare blood disorder)
  • Inflammatory Bower Disease (IBD)
  • Feline Distemper (Feline panleukopenia)
  • Heartworm Disease
  • Foreign Object in the GI tract


If you see your cat regurgitating white foam it could just be indigestion, or it could signify something serious like diabetes. Be sure you're monitoring your cat consistently. If it only happens once, it might be ok. But if it happens multiple times or over multiple days you should take your cat to the vet.


Felines can throw up white for the following reasons:


  • Hairballs
  • Indigestion
  • Pancreatitis
  • Parasites
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Gastritis



Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

As you can see there are many reasons why cats vomit that's why it's a good idea to monitor your cat’s condition. This will help you figure out why they are throwing up. Let's look at some of the most common reasons and symptoms of this problem to help you better understand why your cat is barfing.



When a cat throws up often, it's possible they're coughing up a hairball because they need to clear their throats. It is one of the most common reasons for cat vomiting


Cats spit up hairballs, which is a damp accumulation of undigested hair. This means that there are other fluids in their digestive system that get blocked up as well. For some cats, this could be a common occurrence for how they clear up space in their bodies. Hairball regurgitation can occur once or twice a week, depending on how much hair the cat ingests.  


While it can be normal when a cat vomits out a hairball, it is not as normal if they vomit out food. This occurs when the cat eats spoiled food or when it accidentally eats certain food that only humans should be eating. 


Spoiled Cat Food

Cats can throw up when they have eaten spoiled food. If your cat rejects its food you may want to check the expiration date. If you notice that they vomit shortly after they eat, that could be a telling sign that the food is causing the problem. It's always a good idea to ensure proper maintenance of whatever food you buy your cat and make sure it is still good to serve.



cat retching on grass



Illnesses or Diseases

It's possible the cat could have a UTI, liver failure, or kidney disease. You might be able to determine this by accessing the color of their vomit. Some signs that your cat could suffer from UTI include the inability to urinate, crying while urinating, and blood in the urine. If your furry friend licks their genitals more than usual it also indicates that they are suffering from a UTI.



Cats can suffer from infestations such as parasites. This could come from an encounter with another animal or a potential injury. It also could be a parasite that they got through other means. Cats could struggle with gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation in the feline's stomach. Parasites could cause this, and it could cause the cat to struggle with vomiting or diarrhea.


Related: Cat Diarrhea Home Remedy: How To Naturally Stop Cat Diarrhea


Human Food Consumption

Human food, especially processed sweets like chocolate, can be very bad for cats! While some treats could be harmless for cats, other foods such as milk, onions, and garlic are potentially toxic to their digestive system. Not only could it hurt them, but it could also cause them to lose their appetite for other foods that they need to eat.


Eating Too Fast

Another thing that could cause a cat to vomit is the consumption of food too quickly. Like with humans, how we consume food can affect how we feel after we have eaten. If you eat too fast, you can get a stomachache.  Likewise, with cats, helping them eat slower or spreading out their portions can help them with vomiting issues and potentially provide some relief.


Consuming Grass or Foreign Objects

Cats are curious animals, and sometimes that curiosity causes them to eat things they should not eat. Often, they eat grass or foreign objects when outdoors. Felines love being outdoors and enjoy munching on the grass. However, too much consumption could lead to vomiting and illness. Cats who consume plants filled with toxins could also suffer from an upset stomach.



cleaning up cat vomit



Take a Sample

If you suspect your feline has a problem associated with its vomiting, it could be useful to collect a sample and take it, along with your kitty, to the vet. Your veterinarian might be able to examine the sample and use it to identify the underlying problem.


If you feel your cat threw up once and it is nothing to worry about, you should monitor the situation! If your pet seems normal, it should be ok. Now let's take a look at some remedies to help stop and prevent your furry feline from vomiting.



How Do I Stop My Cat From Throwing Up?

A vomiting issue might get resolved with the right treatment and care. Cats can get used to certain foods, so a change might come as a shock to them. It is best to go slowly and complete the transition gradually. Choosing the food you feed your cat can also be a huge determining factor in how your furry friend adjusts to their new food diet.


Feeding Tips That Can Help

Wet canned cat food provides a healthier option for cats and can help them stop vomiting, especially if you are adjusting the portions accordingly. With wet canned cat food, cats get everything they need in their diet including protein such as chicken, fish, lamb, and beef. Canned food can help cats suffering from UTI or kidney failures.


Dried food is an excellent alternative when you want to find food with a longer shelf life just make sure to get one with quality ingredients. Regardless of what a cat eats, the goal is to stop the vomiting. One thing that goes a long way is helping your cat eat slower. Many owners have success with slow feeder cat bowls or feeding their pets smaller portions more times throughout the day.


Another factor in preventing your cat from vomiting is to determine the amount of food you should serve them based on their age and activity level. Typically older cats and younger kittens need lees nutrition in comparison to middle age and more active felines.



cat eating food out of a bowl



When Should I Go To The Vet?

So, what are the warning signs of abnormal cat throw up? If you notice that your feline is vomiting over three times a month, it may be time to consider professional advice. Also, if your cat throws up for more than a day or two in a row or multiple times a day, you should go to the vet.


Other signs to look for include yellow, red, dark brown, or white vomit, which might be a cause for concern. If there is blood in the vomit or something that looks similar to ground-coffee, its a good indication that your pet is bleeding from the stomach. If the vomit is brown or smelly, it could also be an internal bleeding situation. 



Final Thoughts - Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

Owning a cat comes with a lot of responsibilities, and that includes determining if they have any ailments and how to correct them. Every cat is different and what they eat, how they eat, and when they eat can go a long way in determining whether their throw-up is normal or when there is something wrong. Just remember to pay attention to their behavior and this will help you in the long run while potentially allowing them to have a long and healthy life. Read more here.

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