Why Do Cats Throw Up?

February 18, 2020

Cats throwing up more common than you think. Though throwing up is a very common occurrence in cats, it does not mean it is normal. There is no cause for alarm if the vomiting is a one off event. However, if your cat throws up every day, and stop eating or show signs of distress such as stomach pain or retches continuously, then it may be wise to look into it further.

It may indicate that there may be some underlying health issues involved if your cat keeps throwing up. Frequent vomiting also leads to dehydration as well, which in turn will cause other health issues to flare up.

Why Does My Cat Keep Throwing Up?
There are many reasons why your cat keeps throwing up. If the throwing up happens on a regular basis, it is best to seek veterinary advice. There are usually no quick-fixes to cat throwing up, sometimes it may be due to a combination of various factors. Now, let’s look at some of the more common reasons on why do cats throw up.

Diet plays a big part in the health of your cat. If you are feeding your cat a poor quality diet of rendered fats and protein, it may lead to cat’s body rejecting these foods and hence the vomiting. Some cat food are not suitable for cat consumption, as they are made from leftover meats, which are very difficult for cats to digest.

Feeding your cat a proper diet consisting of good proteins can help resolve this issue. However, it can be very difficult to pinpoint which cat food are not made from these poor quality meats. Check out our comprehensive cat food guide for more details on selecting the best cat food for your pet cat.

Eating Style
Eating too fast may cause a cat to throw up. When a cat eats too fast, food not digested over a period of time, may get vomit out. There may be a couple of reasons why some cats eat too fast, sometimes it may be due to hunger or it may be a case of intense competition for food during meal times, especially if you have multiple cats at home.

You can resolve this issue by observing your cat during meal times. If your cat starts gobbling its food, and then start eating from other food bowls, it is time to separate your cats into different rooms during meal times.

Enzyme Deficiency
Enzyme deficiency happens as a result of the cat’s pancreas inability to produce certain digestive enzymes such as amylase, lipase and protease. This leads to a case of acute low-grade pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is found to be one of the most common underlying causes of sporadic vomiting.

To prevent vomiting due to enzyme deficiency, you can add a digestive enzyme to your cat’s diet. This can help ensure your cat has enough enzymes to properly digest its meals.

If you have a long-haired cat, hairballs should be quite a common occurrence. There is no cause for alarm if your cat is vomiting out hairballs. However, you can help to reduce the amount and frequency of hairballs by grooming your cat more regularly.

Regular brushing or shaving down long-haired cats can help a lot. Also, you can add more fiber to your cat’s diet to reduce your cat’s discomfort.

Health Issues
There may be an underlying health issue which is the main cause of your cat’s persistent vomiting. For example, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease and organ diseases can lead to your cat throwing up.

If you suspect your cat of having an underlying health issue, it is best to bring your cat to the vet for a health check.

Inquisitive Nature
Cats are curious by nature. Cats can ingest anything they find interesting. Their bodies natural mechanism will then vomit out these things in defense. Sometimes, things can get serious and surgery may be required to remove objects that get lodged in the stomach and cannot be vomited out. You will need to bring your cat to the vet immediately if your cat displays severe signs of distress.

Meals Timing
If your cat throws up after eating, it may be due to the timing of the meals. Sometimes, meal times are too far apart, or your cat is anticipating the next meal, causing your cat’s stomach to release gastric juices, hydrochloric acid and bile earlier than usual. These 3 fluids are needed for proper digestion of food. However, as food is not available for these fluids to do their work, your cat’s body may decide to get rid of some of these fluids to avoid further stomach irritation.

To prevent this issue from occurring, you can give your cat some treats before the main meals. This will give the digestive fluids in your pet’s stomach something to work on and stop irritating it before the meals.

Milk can cause your cat develop gastrointestinal issues and throw up. Unless it is from a mother cat, it is not advisable to feed your cat milk from another species. Cow’s milk is the usual source of milk that cat owners will feed to their pets. However, cats do not have the enzymes to properly break down the sugar in cow’s milk, resulting in secondary gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting.

If you are feeding milk to your cat, stop immediately, and the vomiting will stop as well.

As mentioned previously, cats are naturally curious creatures. They can ingest anything they can get their paws and mouths on. Sometimes, your cat may have ingested certain items or plants in your home that are poisonous to cats. For example, common household items such as medicines, household cleaners and pesticides are toxic to cats.

You need to get rid of these poisonous items and plants, or hide them out of reach. For a list of plants that are poisonous to cats, check out this article on “Plants Poisonous To Cats”.

Giving your cat treats from time to time is fine, that is as long as you know what are in the treats. Treats may contain ingredients like chemical dyes, emulsifiers, FDC red #4, propylene glycol, surfactants and some other chemicals. All these additives, chemicals and preservatives are capable of making your cat sick. If you are serious about your cat’s health, you need to check what are in these treats before giving them to your pet.

Things That Cats Can Throw Up
You will be surprised by the variety of things a cat can throw up. Below are some of the more common things cats can throw up.

Cat throwing up bile - Bile is an alkaline fluid secreted by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. This fluid is very important for the body’s digestive process. It is normally yellowish in color and accompanied by foam. If your cat throws up bile, it means your cat is producing more bile than it is using. Or it can be a prelude to vomiting out hairballs. If the yellowish bile vomited out is thick, it can be a sign of a more serious infection or kidney problem.

Cat throwing up blood - If your cat throws up blood, it may be due to a bacteria or viral infection. Other causes may include clotting disorders, ingesting medications such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids, and injury or trauma to the gastrointestinal tract. If your cat is throwing up blood, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Cat throwing up clear liquid - The clear liquid in your cat’s vomit is most likely stomach juices or gastric juices used for digestive purposes. This normally indicates a less serious case of vomiting. Sometimes, it may be excessive water that your cat had drank.

Cat throwing up foam - White foam in your cat’s vomit will normally be accompanied by bile, a fluid yellowish in color initially, followed by hairballs. This can be easily deduced if the mass forms a plug.

Cat throwing up food - Food that is not digested over a period of time may get vomited out. This is normally a case of ingesting too much food or food a little too fast for the digestive juices to work their magic.

Cat throwing up hairballs - This is very common, especially for long-haired cats. Cats use their tongues to groom themselves, resulting in excessive hair being swallowed into their stomachs. More often than not, cats can’t excrete them out if they do not have enough fiber in their diets. So vomiting out is the best option for getting rid of excessive hair that they have ingested. Normally hairballs vomited out will be accompanied by some yellowish fluid and foam.

Cat throwing up mucus - Sometimes, it may be your cat’s body trying to rid itself of too much toxins. If the mucus is excessive, it may be a case of an inflamed intestine. Sometimes, the mucus may be accompanied by some blood. If that is the case, bring your cat to the vet immediately to find out the root cause.

Cat throwing up saliva - The saliva here most likely refers to clear liquid or water if not accompany by other fluids or objects. When cats vomit, saliva will definitely be present.

Cat throwing up water - If your cat throws up water soon after it drinks some, this may be due to drinking too fast or too much. Sometimes, the water you see may be clear liquid that is the digestive juices in the stomach.

Cat throwing up worms - If your cat suffers from a major worm infection, and the worms move into the lung, it may vomit out worms. Telltale signs of a major roundworm infection include bloated stomach, bloody stools, breathing difficulty, constipation, diarrhea, persistent coughing, unexplained weight loss, vomiting and worms in your cat’s feces.

As you can see, there are many reasons why cats throw up. If you are concerned about your cat throwing up, it is best to seek help from a vet. This is to ensure your cat is not suffering from any major health issues and find out the underlying cause of the vomiting. Some vets may suggest using drugs to suppress the vomiting. I do not recommend this direction and I would suggest getting a second opinion from another vet.

Image Credit
Photo by Wutsje - CC BY-SA 3.0

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