Why Does My Cat Keep On Vomiting – And What Should I Do About It?

Ugh, disgusting, you just stepped in it in the dark…Any cat owner here knows what I’m talking about.  You might have heard your cat in the middle of the night, or you might not have heard anything, but either way you’ve discovered the results and they are plastered all over your foot.  There are few things less enjoyable than stepping in a pile of cat vomit, but as uncomfortable as that might be for you, it is something you need to pay close attention to so you can ensure the general health of your feline friend.  So let’s first consider the question why does my cat keep on vomiting and then talk about what you might do about it to help your cat avoid it in the future.


Common Reasons Your Cat Might Vomit & Ways to Treat Them:

  • Is Your Cat Eating Right?
    • is your cat eating rightThere are a couple of things you should look into related to your cats diet, bust the biggest one is what your cat is eating. Just like humans, we have things we can digest and things we can’t digest that cause an upset stomach. When a cat consumes anything outside the realm of decent quality food — be it low quality food, string, or even their own fur — their digestive system reacts just like a human, by giving them an upset stomach and in most cases causing them to vomit.
    • I mentioned low quality food above, this means food that is not high enough quality for human consumption. If you’re buying your cat food from a place like Petco or Petsmart this isn’t really something you should be worried about, but definitely keep it in mind if you are getting your food from a highly discounted location.
  • Your Cat Has Developed a Green Thumb
    • If your cat loves to eat your household plants then you might have a problem. Most plants aren’t too good for your cat, and that includes a lot of plants that are perfectly healthy for us humans. You might need to move houseplants into a room your cat isn’t allowed into or you might need to reconsider the plants you have in your house to ensure the long term health of your cat. If your cat insists on eating plants you might consider growing yourself some Cat Grass.  It is super easy and I’ll soon be posting a simple how to guide here at How To Grow Your Own Cat Grass.
  • Your Kitty Has a Milk Mustache
    • Are you feeding your cat milk in a saucer like you saw in old cartoons? If so, you should probably cut it out of their diet unless it is specially formulated for cats. Your cat can’t actually digest milk from a cow or a goat or any other animal other than a cat, and they stop doing this after they reach adulthood. If you find it necessary to feed your cat milk then please use something like this so your cat can break it down properly.
  • Your Feline Might Have Food Allergies
    • Just like in humans, animals have food allergies and can easily get sick from eating food that they are allergic to. This is one of the main reasons you’ve seen a significant increase in the number of grain free cat foods hitting the market in recent years. Not only are they generally healthier, but they are less likely to tweak or irritate a food allergy.
    • Other common cat food allergies are caused by all of the common meats in cat food: beef, fish, eggs, etc. So if you feed your cat a lot of different foods then you might try rotating specific foods in and out of their diet to see if removing one decreases the vomiting incidents. An additional note, just like in humans, even if your cat never showed an allergy in the past it doesn’t mean that allergy cannot surface later in life.
  • The Need For Speed
    • If your cat is anything like my cat Lexi, the second you put food down on the ground she inhales it like a Dyson. Lexi is an incredibly food motivated cat that will eat anything you put down even if it is two or three times the size of her regular meal.  A cat who eats too quickly can easily end up throwing their meal up a few minutes later.
    • While more often than not this originates in households with multiple cats, it isn’t specifically restricted to this situation. If you have a cat that simply eats quickly, you might want to try portioning out their food into multiple smaller meals and separating those meals by a few minutes each so your kitty can’t gobble everything down too quickly.  If you do have multiple cats in your household you may also want to read my upcoming article on Ensuring Your Cat Isn’t Stealing Food.
  • Remember Waiting 30 Minutes To Swim?
    • If you’re anything like me then as a kid you were constantly told you shouldn’t swim until at least 30 minutes after eating cause you might get a crank. While this is somewhat over embellished, you certainly get some nasty stomach irritation if you exercise too soon after eating. The same goes for cats. If you feed them and then attempt to play with them immediately after you are kind of asking for them to get sick. Give your cat a solid 30 minutes or even a full hour after feeding them before attempting to engage them in physical activity. This will give them ample time to adjust and ensure they aren’t getting sick for such a simple reason.

General Treatment

start simple with waterYour best bet to help your cat out right after they vomit is to make sure they don’t have anything additional to eat or drink for a little while. This ensures if their stomach is upset that they won’t eat more and then have another episode. I’d wait at least an hour, but you can wait a bit longer if you want. After an hour or so you can put down a  fresh bowl of water for your cat. If they take a drink and don’t end up vomiting again for say half an hour you are probably in good shape to give them a small amount of food.

Start them with food that isn’t super rich. Definitely avoid foods with heavy gravy, cream sauces etc. From a dry food standpoint avoid huge mixes of stuff like the classic Meow Mix with 10 different types of dry food in the bag.  There are some special designed foods for sensitive stomachs that you may want to consider as well. If they do well with small portions feel free to migrate back to larger portions.

If none of the above seem to be the culprit and your cat is still vomiting please read on below…


Your Cat Might Be Really Sick:

  • Did Your Cat Ingest Poison?
    • While houseplants don’t agree with your cat as mentioned above, there are a bunch of other poisons that can cause your poor kitty all sorts of grief. Most things poisoning to other animals, including humans, are poisonous for cats. This includes weed killers, bug killers and all sorts of cleaning chemicals. These will cause vomiting if ingested and unfortunately could result in far worse if left without treatment. If you think your cat has eaten any of the above you should call a 24 hour vet hotline immediately. The ASPCA also offers services on a toll free Poison Control Center Hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
  • Does Your Cat Have a Virus, an Infection Or Something Else?
    • Your cat could potentially be truly sick. There are all sorts of different sicknesses that can cause a cat to vomit ranging from worms to diabetes to cancer. Given I am not a veterinarian it is not even remotely appropriate for me to provide any potential diagnosis, but do understand it could be something minor that a simple set of antibiotics might fix for good.  That being said, if the vomiting continues then you should get your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible so a professional can help you diagnose and treat your pet as quickly and effectively as possible.

I truly wish you the best in getting your cat healthy and helping them stop vomiting. I know it is no fun for us, but it is certainly no fun for them either. If you have any questions or any thoughts on other things that might cause your cat to vomit then please post a comment here or shoot me a note at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update this post.

 

Special Note: If there is blood in your cat’s vomit you should immediately get your cat to a veterinarian. This, just like in a person, is the sign of a potentially serious problem. You need to get medical attention for your cat ASAP.

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14 thoughts on “Why Does My Cat Keep On Vomiting – And What Should I Do About It?

  • May 9, 2017 at 10:46 am
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    Hi Craig,

    Thank you for such a comprehensive article. I never realised that there was so many different ways to go about helping a sick cat.

    This post will come in very handy in the future, I am sure.

    Thanks

    Brendan

    Reply
    • May 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm
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      Glad it was helpful! If you have any questions in the future please stop by or shoot me an email!

      Reply
  • May 9, 2017 at 11:29 am
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    hi Craig, very informative article. Thank you for this. Few years ago, my family owned several cats and I can relate to the thought that there were times when I clean up cat vomit. My only single impression was that probably they ate something they didn’t like. But your article gave me a broader perspective. I was particularly surprised in the part where you mentioned that we should avoid giving milk (cow’s milk) to them when they reach adulthood. I’m guilty on it now. But I thought it was a good supplement. Over-all, I am glad about all the information that you shared. It will be very helpful to all cat lovers and those who own cats now. Thank you =)

    Reply
    • May 9, 2017 at 11:59 am
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      Thanks for stopping by! I had no idea until recently either. It was always one of those things you saw in TV advertising and until I got my own cats years ago I was planning to give them milk in a saucer. I guess it is similar to advertising for other things that are no good for you, until someone clearly proves it is wrong it will keep happening!

      Reply
  • May 9, 2017 at 12:59 pm
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    Hey Craig!
    What a great site you have here 🙂 I am mom to 4 (!) feline kids of which the oldest is 18 years of age and the two youngest rabble rousers are just south of a year. I love them all to death and had to get used to them being outside at all times of day and night since we moved to a farmhouse in the country in 2015. Needless to say the kitties love it here! As you point out, every cat is different and has different needs and it is very important to look at our cats and help them with whichever may ail them. I myself have written articles about the Adopt Don’t Shop attitude …. if you decide for an animal, it should be a life decision! As it is, our cats and dogs are just as much members of our family as any human! Thanks again for a very imformative page that every cat mom or dad should bookmark!

    Reply
    • May 9, 2017 at 2:02 pm
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      Glad to meet another person that treats their animals like kids! Our two furballs live the dream and I wouldn’t have it any other way :).

      I imagine that had to be a big change on letting your kitties outside. I am right in downtown Chicago so it is a total no no for me. I am really debating getting one of those outdoor netted tents this year for our cats to be able to enjoy the sun and stuff. Who knows, I can’t decide if I want to shell out the money for it!

      Reply
  • May 11, 2017 at 2:02 am
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    Very good tips to deal with the cat vomit problem. I have never realized that there could be so many causes, especially the one having a cat having a liking for plants, I see the problem there and thanks for recommending the cat grass. I think it will certainly be useful.

    A virus infection could be more difficult to deal with and I will make sure I always have the vet’s number close at hand.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2017 at 12:33 am
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    Thank you for listing those reasons! I am worried sick since my cat started to puke all out of a sudden! Indeed, my cat sprints almost all the time. I will also look for other symptoms that you have shared from now on! Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  • June 20, 2017 at 11:30 pm
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    Thanks for sharing these great tips. One of mine eats way too fast and then it ends up on the floor! My longer haired cat throws up mainly due to hairball so I need to brush him more often to help control the hairballs. By the way, they feel nasty too when you step on them lol!

    Reply
    • June 21, 2017 at 12:28 am
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      Haha, yes, they are absolutely disgusting to step on in the dark…Ugh.

      Reply
  • September 9, 2017 at 2:33 am
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    Great article! Our three cats vomit pretty frequently ( two of them are long haired ) and I often worry that something is really wrong but I think it is the long hair that needs brushing. They love a good brushing, and I will do it more frequently after reading this comprehensive post.

    Reply
    • September 17, 2017 at 2:41 am
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      Good luck and I hope it decreases the number of incidents with vomiting! You can also try a hairball product that can be dripped into your cat’s food to help digest the hair more effectively.
      http://amzn.to/2xbSmui

      Reply
  • May 7, 2018 at 4:25 pm
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    Hi Craig,
    I have also found many cats can get acid indigestion. This can be caused by many things including food allergies like you mentioned and more serious conditions. My cats all go after the houseplants when their stomachs are upset. They mow down anything green. These are often plants that are not easy for them to digest and then they throw it back up.

    If they have cat grass available they usually don’t throw it up. I have found cat grass doesn’t last long so instead of growing a new batch every month, I buy it at the grocery store. You can get it in the produce section as “wheat grass”. This is the same thing as “cat grass”. The wheat grass is made for humans and is clean and safe for cats to eat and generally in MUCH better shape than the cat grass sold at pet food stores. It is very affordable as well. Of course if you grow your own it is even cheaper!

    Cats can also have Pepcid AC for serious, ongoing acid indigestion. Of course they should go to the vet first to rule out any serious health problems. My vet approved 1/4 of a Pepcid AC tablet for my cat’s stomach. He gets them twice per day.

    Thanks for addressing many of the reasons cats can throw up.
    Jessica

    Reply

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