Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

By November 23, 2023Cats

It is normal for cats to throw up occasionally, but throwing up more than once a week or even consistently every few weeks is something that should not be overlooked. Cats can get an upset tummy for various reasons. If you notice that your cat is vomiting often, make an appointment with your vet to find the underlying cause. Your cat may be regurgitating their food, coughing, or having a reaction to something they ate. It is our duty to lookout for our cats to prevent them from getting into contact with any toxic substances or have something stuck in their throat.

How do you know if your cat is about to throw up?

Humans tend to salivate prior to vomiting. Similarly, your cat can get nauseous before throwing up. Watch their body language. They might feel restless, salivate, or swallow repeatedly. Vomiting starts with intense contractions in your cat’s abdominal muscles, which then expel what is in their stomach or throat. On the other hand, coughing can look like throwing up. The difference would be when a cat coughs, they will crouch down on all four legs and stretch their neck out. They will then cough up froth or foam, which they might swallow again instantly.

Did you know that there is a difference between vomiting and regurgitation?

Vomiting is when the contents of the stomach, including food, water, and/ or bile are ejected. It is an active process typically accompanied by nausea, retching and contraction of the abdominal muscles. Cats often vocalize, drool, or begin retching prior to vomiting. On the contrary, regurgitation involves only the contents of the mouth or oesophagus. Food and/ or water or other ingested items has not been digested by stomach acids, and there is no abdominal effort. It is a passive process whereby there is no vocalizing or retching. When this happens, cats would lower their head, and food or other materials would fall out. This usually happens within 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating.

Just like humans, there are many reasons why cats throw up. Some are minor and may even resolve on their own, while others are more serious. Let us find out more on some of the common causes of your cat vomiting or regurgitating.

Cats groom themselves often. As they lick themselves, their tongue pulls loose and dead fur, which is then swallowed. Often, the hair passes all the way through the digestive tract with no issues. However, there are times where large volumes of hair accumulate in the stomach, resulting in your cat vomiting a hairball. This is usually not a cause of concern, but in some cases, this can be an early sign of a gastrointestinal problem. Brushing your cat regularly can help get rid of any loose fur in your cat’s coat that could be ingested when they groom themselves.

Food And Dietary Changes
Changes in your cat’s feeding schedule, or switching your cat’s food too abruptly may cause your cat to regurgitate undigested food. It is recommended to introduce new food to your cat gradually while decreasing the amount of current cat food. Your cat might also be eating too quickly, causing them to regurgitate undigested food. You can consider feeding your cat smaller and more frequent meals.

Cats can get a tummy upset due to dietary indiscretion, toxins, or medication side effects. If your cat accidentally ate something that it should not, this could result in your cat vomiting undigested food in addition to vomiting blood and/ or bile. Your cat may also exhibit a decrease in appetite, a depressed attitude, lethargy, or dehydration. Some causes of gastroenteritis are mild and will resolve on its own, while others will need a vet’s attention.

Foreign Bodies Or Obstructions
If your cat accidentally swallowed a foreign material (i.e. toy, hair tie or a piece of string), this can cause blockage and damage to the GI tract that results in vomiting. This should not be taken lightly and requires immediate veterinary attention.

Eating Too Fast
This can result in cats regurgitating undigested food. Introducing food puzzles is a great way to slow them down, and at the same time provide them with physical and mental stimulation. There are also food puzzles available on the market that stimulate both your cat’s predatory and foraging instincts. If your cat routinely eats out of puzzle feeders and is still vomiting up its food, speak to your vet.

Food Allergies And Inflammatory Bowel Disease
When cats with intestinal sensitivities eat a trigger food, the inflammation in their digestive tract may cause them to vomit up partially digested or undigested food. Some may also experience chronic diarrhoea because of these conditions. Work with your vet to identify what possible food allergies your cat has so that you can feed your cat a diet that is suitable for them.

If your cat starts to vomit multiple times a day, or you notice an increase in the frequency of vomiting, or your cat is vomiting blood, these are red flags that should not be ignored. Additionally, vomiting in cats is especially concerning if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as a loss of appetite, lethargy or depression, sudden weight loss, pain in their abdomen, as well as other changes in health and behaviour. If you notice these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.

It’s essential to know the specific reason why your feline is throwing up its food so that you know how to react accordingly. Identifying the cause of your cat vomiting will be able to help you to determine your next course of action. Whenever in doubt and unsure of what to do, consult your vet. Depending on what your vet finds, they would use different treatments to target the cause of vomiting.


Any views or opinions communicated on this page belong to the author and do not represent the views or opinions of any other organizations. This article is meant for us to share our own views and opinions in general. Kindly consult a professional if you would like to seek professional advice.



Adopted from sources

– Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Its Food? By Tabitha Kucera, reviewed by Juliane Evans, The Spruce Pets.

– What To Do If My Cat Is Throwing Up? By Vanesa Farmer, WedbMD.

– Cat Vomiting: 7 Causes And How To Help. By Elizabeth Racine, reviewed by Catherine Barnette, Great Pet Care.

– Images of dogs, Pexels.