Why Is My Cat Vomiting?

Cat vomiting can occur for lots of different reasons. Most cats will vomit occasionally, and usually it's nothing to worry about.

However, you do need to know how to recognize when it may potentially be serious, so you know when veterinary help is needed.




Signs, Causes And Treatment

1) Signs

cat silhouett

At first glance, this may seem a bit strange. Aren't the signs of vomiting pretty obvious?

They are, but the manner in which your cat is vomiting is a good indication of whether the cause is serious and requires a visit to the vet.

If the vomiting only occurs occasionally, doesn't go on for very long and your kitty appears bright, alert and well otherwise, there's probably nothing to worry about. You just need to keep an eye on him to make sure he seems OK.

You should also check that the vomiting doesn't become more frequent and isn't accompanied by diarrhea.

If, on the other hand, your cat is vomiting frequently and he appears lethargic, dull, reluctant to move and reluctant to eat or drink, you should take him to the vet as soon as you can.

Prolonged cat vomiting can cause other complications such as malnutrition, dehydration and problems with levels of essential chemicals in the body.

If the vomit contains blood, looks like feces or is very dark (almost black) in appearance, you should visit the vet without delay.


2) Causes

cat sirtting in box

There are many different causes of cat vomiting, some a lot more serious than others.

If you have a vomiting cat and read this, please don't get scared by the length of the list. In the majority of cases, vomiting isn't serious. And the most common causes are the most easily treated.

  • Diet. Some cats have sensitive tummies and can't tolerate a rich diet. Prescription diets are available that are more bland than standard cat food.

    Chicken or white fish are also normally OK for these kitties, but they shouldn't be fed them exclusively, or they won't get all their required nutrients. Your vet can advise you further on the best diet for a sensitive cat.

  • Hairballs. These look almost like slugs, but on closer inspection are clumps of matted fur. There are several ways to treat and prevent these.

  • Worms. Roundworms can cause a partial blockage in the cat's gut, which can result in vomiting. Sometimes, the worms can be seen in the vomit (nice!) Worming your cat every 3 months should prevent / cure this.

  • Stomach infection (gastritis). Depending on the extent of the infection, the cat may have diarrhea as well as vomiting. I would recommend a visit to the vet if your cat develops this.

    It may be a mild infection that will pass by just giving your cat water only for 24 hours (no food), then giving him a bland diet. But some of these infections are nasty, and severe diarrhea and vomiting should be checked out by a vet.

    Some of these infections can be passed to humans, so you need to be meticulous about hand washing when dealing with a cat with gastritis.
  • Other infections. Sometimes cats vomit as a result of just feeling generally unwell, especially if they have a fever. For this reason, vomiting may occur as a side-effect of other, seemingly unrelated infections - for example a urinary tract infection.

  • Obstruction. If your cat is vomiting frequently but not pooping, or only producing small amounts of diarrhea, you should see a vet without delay. There may be an obstruction in his gut which is stopping the movement of food, and it must be removed.

  • Poisoning. This is thankfully rare, as cats usually don't eat anything they're not 100 percent sure about. However, if you think your cat has been poisoned, you should get him to the vet as soon as you can. If you know what he was poisoned with, bring the bottle / box with you.

  • Serious diseases. There are a number of serious diseases that may cause cat vomiting, including: liver, kidney and pancreatic diseases, diabetes* nervous system diseases, heart failure, cancer, gastric ulcers and cat enteritis.
  • *Click here for more information on feline diabetes symptoms




3) Treatment

big ginger tom cat fac

Treatment depends on the severity and underlying cause.

Assuming there's no serious disease present, which requires treatment of its own, a cat that's vomiting frequently is usually given only water or a special drink from the vet which helps to keep the chemical balance in his body normal. This is given for 24 hours (no food), and then he's given a bland diet in small, frequent helpings. Once Kitty is better, his normal diet can be slowly re-introduced.

If the cat is very dehydrated, your vet may decide that he needs hospitalization and intravenous fluids.


As I mentioned earlier, please don't let the information on this page frighten you. Cat vomiting is usually normal, not serious and relatively easy to treat. However, if it seems excessive or abnormal, you should consult with a vet without delay.


Click here for advice on health insurance for your cat.





Go from cat vomiting page to cat illnesses page

Go to Cat Behavior Explained home page