Vomiting in cats

Vomiting in cats is a topic that comes up regularly in pet forums and vet discussions. This is a common problem in felines and identifying the cause is not always easy. While a single and isolated case of vomiting might not be cause for concern, if you notice frequent and ongoing vomiting it may signal something more serious, warranting a visit to the vet.

What are the common causes of vomiting in cats?

Food allergies/poor diet

If your cat occasionally vomits but looks healthy, is energetic and behaves normally then diet may be the culprit. Food allergies can develop in cats as a result of eating the same food over and over. Make sure you switch up your cat’s diet, particularly the type of protein they are fed. Cats can be fussy eaters so it might take a bit of coaxing and patience to introduce new foods into your cat’s diet but stick with it! Your cat’s digestive system will thank you in the long run. Milk is another food source that might be causing GI issues in your cat. Feeding your kitty milk may seem like a healthy treat but in fact cats don’t have the necessary enzymes to break down the lactose in cow’s milk.

Eating too quickly

If you house more than one feline friend you may notice some competition when it comes to feed time. If your cat or cats gobble up their food too quickly, undigested food can get stuck in their esophagus (which is horizontal rather than vertical) and be regurgitated shortly after.

Cats are very fastidious groomers and hairballs can become a problem if they have a lot of hair and/or groom other cats in the household. Hair that is swallowed can get clogged up in their GI tract and cats get rid of it by vomiting it up.

Gastrointenstinal disorders

Vomiting can be a symptom of gastrointestinal or systemic disorders including:

  • Bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Acute liver failure
  • Gall bladder inflammation
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney failure
  • Post-operative nausea
  • Viral infections
  • Intestinal parasite
  • Toxins or chemicals

What to watch out for?

As mentioned, vomiting in cats can be a minor incident that doesn’t require veterinary intervention or it can be symptomatic of a serious health issue. If your cat experiences an unexpected bout of vomiting a good rule of thumb is to withhold food until the vomiting has stopped for a few hours. If vomiting persists, is accompanied with other symptoms such as diarrhea, lethargy, appetite or weight changes or you notice blood in the vomit then visit your vet immediately so you can get the appropriate tests done.

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