Every cat owner recognizes the warning signs of an upset feline stomach: the mournful meow, gagging and the heaving retch. But just as suddenly as it began, your cat returns to good health while you’re left scrubbing the carpet.
For some cats, recurrent vomiting is a concern, and the cause might be difficult to pinpoint. Vomiting due to hairballs is common because of a cat’s meticulous grooming habits. However, when you notice your cat throwing up because of other reasons, this signals a more serious medical problem. Malnutrition and esophageal irritation are two complications of frequent vomiting, which should not be overlooked.
For an accurate diagnosis, understanding the differences between coughing, regurgitation, and cat vomiting can help.
Coughing: Coughing is a type of exhalation that results in a loud, rapid ejection of air from the lungs.
Regurgitation: Regurgitation is the throwing up of food from the esophagus or stomach without any nausea or abdominal muscular contractions. It happens quickly and repeatedly without any warming. The cat is fine one minute and then spits up without retching or heaving.
Vomiting: Vomiting is the expulsion of stomach contents, usually following a series of gagging or retching motions. Vomiting is a prolonged process in which the cat may appear ill, drool, retch, demonstrate belly heaving, and finally vomit.
Why Cats Vomit?
Many owners attribute their cat’s vomiting to hairballs, but that’s not the only culprit. “It’s careless to assume that most cases of vomiting in cats are due to hairballs,” says Dr. William Folger, a DVM from Houston. Two other frequent causes of an upset stomach are eating too fast and curiosity.
Other Causes Of Cat Vomiting:
- Ingestion of a toxin from the fur is the most common cause of cat vomiting.
Cats have a proclivity for chewing on attractive house plants, which can lead to plant poisoning.
If the cat is present when the owner cleans their living space with a high fume chemical agent, the inhalation of toxic chemicals - such as cleaning agents - can cause poisoning in cats.
If your cat skips a meal or eats later than usual, it may regurgitate the undigested food.
Another reason why cats vomit frequently is their rapid change of food. It is recommended that you transition your cat to a new diet slowly over a one to two-week period, gradually reducing the amount of current cat food while gradually increasing the quantity of new cat food.
Dietary indiscretion, pollutants, or medication side effects might cause gastric problems such as an upset stomach.
- Some cases are minor and can go away on their own, but others can be serious and require medical attention from a veterinarian.
Ingestion of a foreign object, such as a string or a small toy that becomes lodged in the stomach or intestines, is a common cause of intestinal blockages in cats.
An intestinal blockage is a highly serious ailment that requires immediate attention. It can be caused by underlying health concerns such as a tumor or difficulty with intestinal movements.
Some of the common signs include your cat puking frequently or its inability to keep down water or food.
Prolonged disorders such as pancreatitis, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism can all cause nausea and chronic vomiting in cats due to numerous reasons.
Identification of the underlying ailment is required to address many causes of cat vomiting with many of these conditions requiring lifelong therapy.
- One of the most prevalent feline endocrine illnesses is hyperthyroidism (sometimes known as an overworked thyroid).
- Thyroid overactivity is caused by a tumor (usually benign) in the thyroid gland that pumps too much thyroid hormone into the bloodstream.
- This increase in your cat's metabolism can result in your cat throwing up.
When Vomiting In Cats Is Cause For Concern?
Repeated cat vomiting should never be ignored because it can lead to dehydration. But because vomiting is common in cats, how do you know what’s normal? “A general guideline is that if the cat is vomiting one to three times a month, we consider this normal,” says Dr. Folger.
He considers it serious if the vomiting occurs twice daily for two or three days. If your cat stops eating, seems to have stomach pain or retches continuously, or if the vomit is mixed with blood, take her to a veterinarian. And as always, if you’re suspicious that a lingering problem could be harmful to your pet, call your veterinarian. A visit to the office can help relieve your cat’s discomfort and your worries as well.
Treatment For Cat Vomiting
- Dietary changes are one of the most important treatments for both severe and acute vomiting in cats.
- If your cat is experiencing severe vomiting, you may need to switch to a more easily digestible diet for a while.
- A change in diet can be both therapeutic and diagnostic for cats with chronic vomiting.
- If the new food stops the vomiting, it was likely caused by a food intolerance or allergy, or low-grade inflammatory bowel disease.
- Even if your cat isn't acutely dehydrated, feeding water to flush the system and keep it hydrated can be beneficial. Dehydration is usually caused due to fluid loss from excessive vomiting and failure to retain water in the body.
- For practically every cause of vomiting, some sort of fluid treatment is used.
- IV fluids are frequently indicated if your cat is dehydrated or weak. A catheter is inserted into a vein to administer fluids.
Preventing Your Cat From Vomiting
Often, owners accept their pet’s vomiting as a natural part of their behavior, but just because cats seem to have more than their fair share of stomach issues doesn’t mean you don’t have options.
How To Diagnose The Cause Of Vomiting?
The underlying reason of vomiting in a cat can sometimes be difficult to determine. A majority of cases of acute vomiting are temporary, respond to only symptomatic treatment, and can be managed over time.
Color of vomit
- Clear vomit can be caused by esophageal regurgitation or an empty stomach.
- Blood in the vomit indicates that the blood originated in the mouth, esophagus, or stomach.
- Yellow vomit is bile and may be a sign of liver disease. It could also indicate that the cat consumed something yellow.
- Regurgitation from the esophagus or an empty stomach is the most common cause of white, foamy vomit.
- Vomit with a coffee-ground appearance is caused by stomach hemorrhage, which is most typically seen with ulcers.
- Vomit that is brown and stinky can be caused by bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract or by eating anything brown and smelly.
- Partially digested food in the vomit indicates that the food was never digested. It is caused by food intolerances or blockages, allergies, or just about anything else that irritates the upper gastrointestinal system.
Help Your Cat Eat More Slowly
One simple preventative measure is to get your fast-eating cat to slow down or to simply eat less. Dr. Stephens recommends feeding smaller portions, elevating your cat’s food dish slightly or putting an object, such as a ball, into the dish. The cat will be forced to eat around the ball, thus slowing her intake. If you do this, make sure the ball isn’t small enough to swallow. And you may need to feed cats in a multiple-cat household at different times and places to reduce competitive eating.
If your cat vomits more than three times a month or has chronic stomach issues, you can take several steps to help resolve her discomfort. With your veterinarian’s help and a little effort on your part, your cat’s stomach issues can be a thing of the past.
- How Serious Is Cat Vomiting?
- What Does The Color Of Vomit Mean?
- What To Give A Cat For Vomiting?
- What Color Should Cat Vomit Be?
Vomiting that is severe or chronic is more dangerous. It can cause secondary issues, such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, such as salt deficiency. Minor digestive distress from causes such as eating plants, rotten food, or foul-tasting objects like certain insects, might also produce vomiting.
If the cat’s vomit is yellow, brown, or orange in color, it indicates the accumulation of partially digested food and bile in the stomach. If it is red in color, it indicates the presence of blood. Sometimes, the color of the cat’s vomit may be caused by the color of the cat’s food or treats.
If your cat gets a severe episode of vomiting, you may need to switch to a more readily digestible diet for a while. You may also want to reach out to your veterinarian immediately.
The color of a cat's vomit varies based on what the cat has eaten (even non-food items), any dyes in the treats or food the cat consumes, and a variety of other circumstances. As a result, color isn't a good indicator of the source of your cat's vomiting.