It’s one of the worst feelings in the world when your cat gets sick and you’re not exactly sure what you can do to help it feel better immediately. As close as you and your cat are, they still won’t be able to tell you what’s hurting them, so it’s up to you to figure out a game plan for what to do when your cat is throwing up. Is it serious? Should you be worried? It's difficult to know.
Unfortunately, there are “multiple reasons for vomiting in cats, including toxins, foreign body obstructions, kidney or liver failure, gastric inflammation, parasites, cancer, or a blocked bladder,” says Dr. Brooke Shampers, an emergency and critical care veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Service in Brisbane, Australia. That’s why talking to a vet about your cat should be one of the first things you do if your cat is throwing up at home.
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Talking to a vet will help you determine the cause of your cat throwing up and whether or not you should seek emergency care. Your vet can easily run tests and tell you if your cat’s behavior is normal or something more serious, which can do wonders on granting you peace of mind. You can even make an online vet appointment with your vet to get initial answers and see if an in-person vet visit (and the accompanying cost) is required.
There are a few reasons your cat could be throwing up and they can generally be divided into two categories: chronic or acute. Chronic vomiting in cats means throwing up happens regularly (daily or even monthly). While chronic vomiting might point to larger health concerns, acute vomiting (instances when a cat starts vomiting who isn't normally prone to vomiting) are often the cases that require more immediate emergency help. (You should still see the vet about chronic cat vomiting though!) To determine the reason your cat is throwing up, it's important to look at your cat's lifestyle.
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Some possible reasons your cat is throwing up are as follows. While some of the causes of your cat vomiting may be harmless, it's important to talk to a vet to make sure.
Eating something toxic for cats
Sudden changes in diet
Kidney or liver problems
If continuous vomiting is accompanied by a few telltale signs that your cat is in pain or discomfort, Dr. Shampers says you should see a vet right away. These signs include (but are not limited to):
Vomits more than three times
Straining to urinate
Not eating or drinking (even just missing one meal)
Your cat will sometimes try to tell you it’s in pain or uncomfortable by vocalizing abnormally, says Dr. Shampers. By now you likely know what normal sounds your cat makes and what’s out of the ordinary. If something sounds off, don’t hesitate to bring your furry friend in for a vet appointment. If you suspect your cat is vomiting because they’ve ingested something foreign or come into contact with toxins (like garden lilies), you should see your vet right away.
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“There is no pain relief medication that can be given at home as paracetamol and ibuprofen are highly toxic,” says Dr. Shampers. So if you suspect your cat is in pain, make sure to seek veterinary advice immediately. Your vet can then assess if any medications need to be prescribed and provide careful instruction on how to give the medication to your cat — especially if he’s routinely throwing up food.
The most you can do at home, says Dr. Shampers, is to provide warm soft bedding for your feline as he or she recovers with the guidance of a veterinarian. Also, feeding your cat a “bland diet” can help as they aim to recover and settle back into a routine. Dr. Shampers suggests feeding your cat boiled chicken they’re uninterested in their typical food.