15 min

Cat Throwing Up: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments For Cat Vomiting

If your cat is vomiting, it’s important to track down the cause to help them feel better. Learn what to do in the instance that your cat is throwing up.

Brittany Leitner

Updated September 01, 2022 • Published February 17, 2021

Share to

Cat Throwing Up: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments For Cat Vomiting

As a pet owner, sometimes you will have to deal with difficult situations with your animal. The team at Pawp understands how anxiety-inducing it is when you’re unsure why your pet is unwell.

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 them feel better immediately. The most important thing to do is to ensure that you are taking the correct steps to get them the care that they need. 

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.

There are, however, several symptoms that can help clue a concerned cat owner into what is causing their pet distress. Noticing these signs can be pivotal in helping ensure that your pet gets the proper attention that can help restore them to their healthy state. 

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.

There are a tremendous range of reasons why your cat could be unwell, and without the professional help or diagnosis of a trained veterinarian, it will be difficult to figure out which it is.

In addition, some of these are more intense causes than others, so it’s essential you make sure the problem is taken care of. 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.

Talk to a vet about why your cat is throwing up

As a general rule of thumb, taking your cat to the vet when they are experiencing nausea or vomiting is an absolute must. Therefore, establish a relationship with a vet that you can reach out to in the event that something is wrong.

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 further tests and tell you if your cat’s behavior is normal or something more serious, which can do wonders in granting you peace of mind. 

Before you see your vet, there are several things that you should do. The first is to take inventory of your pet’s state. You will want to note how long they have been throwing up, what the vomit appears to look like, and if your pet is exhibiting any other distressing symptoms, like loss of appetite, weight loss, or diarrhea. Be sure to mention these when you chat with your vet; these could prove pivotal in helping your vet figure out what is wrong with your pet.

Get help with a online vet consult

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. 

If you’re wondering why an online vet appointment could be the right decision for you and your pet, examine some of the facts about telehealth and Pawp. The Pawp team is passionate about ensuring that you and your pet have 24/7 access to excellent care. This could prove pivotal to helping your pet recover if they are unwell during a time when your traditional vet is closed.

Sometimes an online vet is your only realistic option, and it’s an excellent decision to ensure that you have a resource you could use should you need it. In addition to emergency situations, you can also use the Pawp vets as a resource if your dog is having behavioral problems or you need advice on nutrition.  

In the instance that your pet is throwing up, an online vet will help potentially identify the problem and suggest if they think that it’s valuable to see an in-person emergency vet as soon as possible — or if it can wait until normal business hours. 

Read More: Talking To A Vet Online — What To Know & What To Ask

Why is my cat throwing up?

Chronic vs. acute vomiting in cats

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 frequent vomiting (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.

There are, of course, some exceptions to this. If your pet has only vomited one to three times and is otherwise normal, there is a higher likelihood that they do not need urgent care for their acute vomiting. Nevertheless, it’s beneficial to check in with your online vet anyways to ensure that your pet is going to be alright and make a full recovery. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. 

Of course, if your pet is throwing up more than three times, seems to be tired, or cannot keep their food down, it’s essential that you get your cat in front of a vet as soon as you can. Chatting with an online vet in the time that you are waiting for your appointment can also prove valuable. 

If your cat is vomiting several times a month, it’s also important to investigate the cause. In the past, having a cat that threw up a few times a month was largely considered to be a normal occurrence. That, however, has changed. In fact, it might be that a cat that does this is suffering from gastrointestinal distress. Therefore, you should still take a trip to the vet

Vomiting causes: reasons your cat is throwing up

As mentioned, the most important thing to do is figure out what is causing your pet’s nausea and vomiting. This can be tricky or arduous as there are a myriad of reasons why this occurs.

The best thing to do is leave it to the professionals. Instead of attempting to diagnose why your pet is throwing up yourself, bring them to a vet. This will be helpful when it comes to establishing relief for you both. 

While some of the causes of your cat vomiting may be harmless, it's important to talk to a vet to make sure.

Some possible reasons your cat is throwing up are as follows:

  • Eating something toxic for cats

  • Parasites

  • Food allergies

  • Sudden changes in diet

  • Kidney disease or liver problems

  • Stomach/bowel inflammation

  • Gastritis

  • Cancer or diabetes

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Hairball

  • Intestinal blockage from foreign material

You might be wondering how a hairball could cause your pet to puke. While it is largely considered to be a benign cause of your cat’s vomiting, it can prove dangerous.

This term, hairball, refers to a wad of undigested, damp hair that is moistened by your feline’s bile and  fluids from their digestive tract. It’s not uncommon for your cat to expel one biweekly or so. Nevertheless, they could prove hazardous, so if you’re finding them to be a recurring problem, reach out to a vet. 

Read More: 11 Human Foods That Are Toxic To Cats

Signs you should see a vet about your cat's vomiting

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)

  • General lethargy

  • Abnormal vocalizations

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 feline 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.

Sometimes your cat will not be able to vocalize that they’re in distress, so you will have to rely on other symptoms to figure it out. The best thing to do is pay close attention to your pet’s behavior. A pet that isn’t feeling well will often act unusually.

Treatments for your cat throwing up

Medications for cat vomiting

“There is no pain relief medication that can be given at home, as paracetamol, acetaminophen (or Tylenol), 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 they’re routinely throwing up food.

Read More: What Can I Give My Cat For Pain?

At-Home Remedies for cat vomiting

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. Rice is also suitable.

Note that regurgitation is different from vomiting. Regurgitation involves cats heaving up undigested food. This can be helped by feeding small meals or using a slow feeder. 

Read More: Homemade Cat Food Recipes To Try

Helping and preventing illness

If your cat is experiencing any sort of nausea or vomiting, your best option as a responsible pet owner is to seek professional medical attention.

The team at Pawp is dedicated to helping you ensure that you are doing the right thing for your pet and that your cat is safe. Meeting with a Pawp vet can give you a more robust understanding of the situation and help you decide what your next steps are to help your cat stop throwing up. 


Cat Vomiting: Types, Causes and Treatments | Best Friends Animal Society

Cats & Vomiting | Cornell 

The Danger of Hairballs | Cornell  

Chronic Vomiting in Cats: Etiology and Diagnostic Testing | National Library of Medicine

Why So Many Vomiting Cats? Getting the Diagnosis  | Veterinary Information Network

Acute vomiting in cats: rational treatment selection | National Library of Medicine

5 thoughts on “Chronic Vomiting in Cats isn't Normal After All” | Veterinary Practice News

Mechanisms, causes, investigation and management of vomiting disorders in cats | National Library of Medicine

How to Spot Which Lilies Are Dangerous to Cats & Plan Treatment | ASPCA

Talk to a vet now — it's free!

Text, call, or video chat with a vet within minutes.

Talk To A Vet Now