Common Cat Illnesses: Vomiting

Cats vomit. It’s a common thing they do and it doesn’t always mean something is wrong. Some cats vomit because they ate too quickly, others do it to pass hairballs, and some vomit to clear their stomach of something they shouldn’t have eaten. So what can cause your cat to vomit? 

A typical cat vomits one to three times per month, excluding hairballs. If your cat vomits twice or more in a day for two to three days or if there is blood in your cat’s vomit, take them to a vet. Like with humans, throwing up causes dehydration, which can be severe.

So why does your cat vomit so much?

Cats Can Eat Too Fast

The most common reason cats throw up is because they ate too much, too quickly. When your cat’s stomach expands too quickly, their brain will send signals to regurgitate the food. When this happens, what comes out often looks like it did when it went in – the food still has its shape and is not digested. 

There are a few reasons cats may eat too quickly. Iams suggests it could be caused by gluttony or food bowl competition. 

If you notice your cat is regurgitating food, but doesn’t seem to be eating faster than normal, it could be due to an esophagus problem, obstruction of the digestive tract, hairballs or dehydration. 

That’s Not Food

Ever hear the phrase “curiosity killed the cat?” In some felines, this is very true and can lead to your pet ingesting things it shouldn’t, such as pieces of the carpet, grass, toilet paper, or more. Vomiting is your cat’s natural way of cleansing its stomach of things that shouldn’t be there. 

However curious eating should be trained out of your cat immediately, as it can cause serious health issues, such as getting lodged in their intestines. If this happens, your vet will need to perform immediate surgery. 


Many cat owners experience hairballs and know how many to expect per month. It’s different between every cat, so the amount varies. Some have a hairball once a week, others can have them once a year. 

They form because cats lick themselves to stay clean. Not all felines are able to pass all their fur through their digestive tract, so it comes back up in the form of a hairball. They are easy for a cat to pass and shouldn’t be painful.

Hairballs are not something to worry about unless you notice blood or if they seem to cause your cat pain. 

If you’re worried about hairballs or tired of cleaning them, frequent brushing can help reduce the number of them. You can also look into cat food that is formulated for hairballs.

Food Allergies and Infections

Like humans, cats can be allergic to food or get stomach bugs after eating the wrong things. The most common cat food allergens are beef, fish, eggs, wheat, and milk. Food allergies often have other symptoms associated with it, like bald patches, so keep an eye on your cat. 

Felines are also able to get viral and bacterial infections, such as salmonella and giardia, from eating raw, unprocessed or spoiled food. 

What Should You Do When Your Cat Vomits?

The first thing you should look for when your cat throws up is the contents of the vomit. If it’s a hairball or food, it should be nothing to worry about. If the vomiting continues to the point where your cat is throwing up bile,  it could be a sign that something is wrong.

If this is the case, it’s more likely that your feline is sick or has a parasite. Take them to the vet immediately if you notice this behavior, lethargy, weakness, pain and distress, blood in their vomit or stool or loss of appetite. 

If your cat is sick and vomiting, it could be caused by tumors, heat stroke, liver disease, gastroenteritis, pancreatitis, adrenal gland disease, or metabolic disorders. Hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and whipworms are all parasites that can cause a cat to vomit as well.

If can also mean they have an intestinal obstruction or something blocking their esophagus. 

A vet can diagnose what is wrong with your pet, especially if you bring a sample of the vomit with you. Acoma Animal Clinic in Tucson is available to answer questions about your cars behavior and can offer diagnosis and solutions for their excessive vomiting. 

If the vomit isn’t irregular, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about, other than the state of your carpet. 

To clean up vomit on furniture or the carpet, Resolve Pet Expert cleaner works wonders. Remember to dab while you’re cleaning, not rub, and do not use an excessive amount of water or cleaner to spot treat the stain. 

For more information on common cat illness, check out Acoma Animal Clinic’s previous blog on cancer in cats

Recent Posts