Vomiting in cats is all too common, and it’s extremely unpleasant for cats and pet parents alike. Most of the time, throwing up an occasional hairball or a little bit of kitty food isn’t cause for alarm. But if your cat is throwing up every time he eats, vomiting more frequently than once a week, or is displaying other symptoms of illness, it might be time to call the vet. Here’s what you need to know to assess your cat’s condition.
Signs Your Cat’s Vomiting is Serious
According to experts at Bond Vet clinic in Brooklyn, NY, the following symptoms indicate that your cat’s vomiting is serious, and you’ll want to seek immediate veterinary care:
- The vomiting is frequent or severe or it continues when the stomach is empty.
- Any vomiting that continues for more than a day or two.
- Your cat is lethargic or has a fever.
- You suspect they’ve eaten something poisonous or something that could be causing an intestinal blockage.
- They have diarrhea along with the vomiting.
- They don’t want to eat.
- There’s blood in their vomit.
- They’re displaying signs of stomach pain, such as hunching up, crying, or not wanting to be touched.
- Their gums are pale or dry, which could indicate dehydration or anemia.
- If you gently pinch the skin over your cat’s shoulder blades like a tent and it doesn’t snap back right away, he’s probably dehydrated.
Common Causes of Vomiting in Cats
Here are the top seven common causes of vomiting in cats to help you decide if your cat should see the vet right away.
Eating Too Fast
If your cat vomits every time he eats, there’s a good chance he’s eating too fast. This behavior is common in homes with more than one cat where the cat feels like he needs to eat his food before another cat takes it. If this sounds like your cat, try separating him from the other cats during feeding times so he doesn’t feel so stressed. Feeding smaller meals throughout the day may also help.
Vomiting after eating is also common with sudden diet changes or vigorous activity after eating. If none of these situations seem to fit your cat it’s time for a visit to the vet to see if your cat has an undiagnosed health condition.
Eating Something They Can’t Digest
Cats are incredibly curious and one of their favorite ways to investigate the things they find is by tasting them. It’s quite common for a cat to vomit after eating something he can’t digest, such as part of a toy, their hair during grooming, grass, paper, or whatever else catches their fancy. Their body rejects it and it’s often vomited up whole, along with some bile or foam.
If your cat does this once, and then seems normal, there’s probably nothing to worry about. However, if you suspect he may have eaten something poisonous, he’s displaying signs of choking, he can’t go to the bathroom, or he’s vomiting repeatedly, head for the vet right away.
Poisoning is a real risk for cats because they like to chew on things. As with any other animal, if a cat eats something poisonous, his body will try to expel it right away through vomiting. Chemicals, insecticides, medications, some plants, and certain human foods can be toxic to cats. If you suspect your cat may have had access to something poisonous, or his vomiting is violent, sudden, and frequent, head to the emergency vet immediately.
Food allergies are more common in cats than you might think, and they can develop even if your cat has been eating the same food for a long time. If your cat is allergic to an ingredient in his food, he may throw up after he eats. Some of the most common food allergens in cats are milk, wheat, corn, eggs, fish, and beef.
If your cat is throwing up regularly after meals, you should have the vet check for an underlying health issue. If there isn’t one, changing his diet to a food that doesn’t contain common cat allergens might solve the problem.
Bacterial and Viral Infections
It’s not uncommon for cats to get infections, just like people. Vomiting is a common symptom of bacterial and viral infections, like giardia and salmonella. If your cat’s vomiting is sudden and frequent, an infection could be the cause and veterinary intervention may be needed to solve the problem.
Disease and Illness
Sadly, disease and illness are also a common cause of vomiting in cats. Cancer, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, kidney disease, liver failure, and irritable bowel disease can all cause vomiting. If your cat is vomiting more than once a week, it’s time for a visit to the vet to rule out any of these conditions, especially if he’s displaying other signs of illness, such as weight loss or lethargy.
Internal parasites can also cause vomiting in cats. Whipworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms can cause excessive vomiting and they can often lead to other health issues. If your cat is vomiting more than once a week, see the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Many things can cause a cat to vomit, and some of them are very minor. However, there could also be a serious or even life-threatening issue. If the cause of your cat’s vomiting isn’t obvious and resolvable, you should see your vet in order to rule out an underlying health condition. If the vomiting is frequent, contains blood, or is accompanied by other symptoms of illness, immediate emergency veterinary care is required.
Since your cat can’t speak up and tell you what’s wrong, it’s always a good idea to contact the vet if your cat is vomiting, even if it’s just for your own peace of mind.