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

If your cat is vomiting, it’s important to understand the cause to help them feel better. Learn what to do when your cat is throwing up.

Brittany Leitner

Updated December 09, 2022 • Published February 17, 2021

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

As a pet parent, it can be anxiety-inducing when you’re unsure why your feline friend looks or feels 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.

If your cat is throwing up, the most important thing to do is to ensure that you're taking the correct steps to get them the care they need. Learn what causes vomiting in cats and what you can do to get them back on track.

What is my cat throwing up?

There are several causes of vomiting in cats. These include:

  • Toxic ingestion

  • Foreign body obstructions

  • Kidney or liver disease or failure

  • Stomach/bowel inflammation

  • Parasites

  • Cancer

  • Blocked bladder

  • Food allergies

  • Sudden change in diet

  • Gastritis

  • Diabetes

  • Hyperthyroidism

  • Hairball

Given the wide range of possible reasons why your cat is throwing up, without the professional help or diagnosis of a trained veterinarian, it will be difficult to figure out which it is. Plus, some of these causes are much more serious than others, so it's important to talk to a vet and get your furry friend the help they need.

To better understand the cause of the cat vomiting, it can be helpful to look at it in terms of acute vs. chronic cases.

How often is your cat throwing up?

Chronic vomiting in cats means frequent vomiting—three or more times per month for at least three months. Acute vomiting is when a cat who normally isn't prone to vomiting starts throwing up. Both require the care and attention of a veterinary professional, however, noting the frequency of cat vomiting can help a vet better determine next steps prior to your conversation.

In general, if your cat 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 condition. If your cat is throwing up more than three times and the vomiting is accompanied by a few telltale signs that your cat is in pain, 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

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'll have to rely on other symptoms to clue you in. The best thing to do is pay close attention to your pet’s behavior. In addition to taking note of how long they have been throwing up, observe what the vomit looks like and if your cat 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 why your cat is vomiting.

Treatments for your cat throwing up

There is no pain relief medication that can be given at home, as paracetamol, acetaminophen (or Tylenol), and ibuprofen are highly toxic. 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.

In terms of what you can do at home, you can provide warm, soft bedding for your cat as they recover with the guidance of a veterinarian. You can also try feeding your cat a “bland diet” consisting of plain, boiled chicken and or rice.

If your cat is regurgitating (heaving up undigested food)—which is different from vomiting—try feeding them smaller meals or use a slow feeder.

At the end of the day, if your cat is experiencing any sort of nausea or vomiting, your best option is to seek professional medical attention. The team at Pawp is here to help ensure that you're doing the right thing for your cat—chat with us 24/7 about your cat's vomiting or any other concerns you may have.

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