Is Your Cat Throwing Up After Meals? Here’s What You Need to Know


Cats vomiting occasionally is very common, but frequent vomiting or vomiting that persists can indicate a more serious health issue. This article will cover the main reasons cats vomit, how often can be normal, when you should take your cat to the vet, ways to prevent vomiting, treating vomiting at home, making dietary changes, when to transition foods, home remedies, and a conclusion.

Reasons Cats Vomit

There are several common reasons why cats vomit, including:

Hairballs – Cats groom themselves frequently and ingest a lot of hair. The hair can build up into balls inside the stomach and cause vomiting as the cat tries to expel them. Hairballs are a very frequent cause of vomiting in cats according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (source).

Eating Too Fast – When cats eat too quickly, they may swallow air along with their food. This can lead to vomiting soon after as the stomach expels the excess air and food. Cats should be fed smaller, more frequent meals to prevent this according to VCA Animal Hospitals (source).

Food Sensitivities – Some cats have sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients in their food. This can irritate the stomach and lead to vomiting. Common triggers include fish, beef, dairy and wheat.

Parasites – Intestinal parasites like roundworms can cause vomiting, especially in kittens according to Cornell University (source). Deworming medication from a vet can eliminate the parasites.

Foreign Objects – Cats may swallow objects like string, plastic, bones, needles or thread. These can get lodged in the intestines and cause a blockage that leads to vomiting.

Motion Sickness – Riding in vehicles can cause motion sickness and vomiting in some cats. Medication from the vet can help prevent car sickness.

How Often Is Vomiting Normal for Cats?

Occasional vomiting is fairly normal for cats. According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, it’s not uncommon for a cat to vomit up a hairball once a week or two without any major problems (source).

However, there are many factors to consider when determining if your cat’s vomiting habits are within a normal range, including:

  • Age – Kittens may vomit more often as their digestive tracts develop.
  • Diet – A new diet or unhealthy eating habits can lead to upset stomachs.
  • Hairballs – Long-haired cats may vomit hairballs more frequently.
  • Eating speed – Cats that eat too quickly may vomit soon after meals.

In general, occasional isolated instances of vomiting are not necessarily cause for alarm. However, if your cat is vomiting repeatedly within a short period, or vomiting persists beyond 24 hours, it’s best to consult your veterinarian.

When to See the Vet

While occasional vomiting in cats is normal, there are some instances when vomiting warrants a visit to the veterinarian (1). These include:

Persistent vomiting – If your cat vomits several times a day or over multiple days in a row, it’s a good idea to have them checked by a vet to determine the underlying cause (2). Frequent vomiting could be indicative of a serious medical issue.

Vomiting and diarrhea – Seeing both vomiting and diarrhea is cause for concern, as it could mean your cat has an infection or inflammation in their digestive tract (3). Getting them prompt treatment is important.

Weight loss – If vomiting is accompanied by noticeable weight loss or your cat seems unable to keep food down, a vet visit is a good idea (1). Unexplained weight loss needs to be addressed.

Lethargy – If your cat seems lethargic or depressed along with vomiting, see your vet, as it could signal a larger problem. Lethargy plus vomiting can indicate a more serious issue (2).

Vomiting blood – Anytime you see blood in your cat’s vomit, seek veterinary care right away. Bloody vomit needs immediate evaluation to check for internal bleeding or injury (1).

Bringing a sample of your cat’s vomit to the vet can help them analyze it for abnormalities. Keeping track of when the vomiting episodes occur can also help identify potential patterns or causes (3). But any sudden, persistent vomiting warrants checking in with your vet to keep your cat’s health on track.





Preventing Vomiting

There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent vomiting in their cats:

Brushing your cat regularly can help reduce hairballs, which is a common cause of vomiting. Use a cat-specific brush and brush gently to remove loose hair from their coat. Brushing at least a few times per week can help minimize hairballs (source).

Using a slow feeder bowl can help prevent cats from eating too quickly, which can lead to vomiting. Slow feed bowls have mazes or obstacles that force the cat to eat at a slower pace (source).

If you have multiple cats, feed them in separate areas. Competition around food can cause some cats to eat too quickly and lead to vomiting. Separate feeding areas allow them to eat comfortably (source).

Follow portion guidelines on your cat food packaging or as recommended by your vet. Overfeeding can put your cat at risk of vomiting. Sticking to proper portion sizes helps prevent overeating.

Avoid feeding cats human foods, which can upset their stomachs. Things like milk, onions, chocolate, and more can commonly cause vomiting or diarrhea in cats.

Treating Vomiting

There are several ways to treat vomiting in cats, depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatment methods include:

Hairball remedies – Hairballs are a common cause of vomiting in cats. Giving your cat a hairball remedy containing lubricants like petroleum jelly can help them pass hairballs more easily and reduce vomiting. Products like Laxatone are available over-the-counter.

Change diets – Sometimes a food allergy or intolerance can cause cats to vomit. Switching to a bland, easily digestible diet like boiled chicken and rice for a few days can help settle the stomach. Long term, switching to a limited ingredient or novel protein diet may help if food allergies are the culprit. According to VCA Hospitals, vets often recommend feeding cats an easily digested, bland diet in small quantities frequently when vomiting occurs (source).

Anti-nausea medications – Medications like Cerenia can help control nausea and vomiting in cats. These are prescription medications that your vet can prescribe if needed.

Treat underlying conditions – If there is an underlying condition causing the vomiting like inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis, treating the condition itself will help resolve the vomiting. This may involve medications like steroids or dietary changes. According to Best Friends Animal Society, inflammatory bowel disease is sometimes treated with prednisone (source).

Dietary Changes

Making some dietary changes can help reduce vomiting in cats. Two of the most common recommendations are transitioning to wet food and switching to a limited ingredient diet.

Wet or canned cat food has high moisture content which can help with hydration. Dehydration is a common cause of vomiting in cats. Canned food also contains fewer carbohydrates which are harder for some cats to digest properly. When transitioning to wet food, do it slowly over the course of a week or two to allow the cat’s digestive system to adjust. Mix a little wet food with the dry food at first, gradually increasing the ratio of wet to dry each day.

Limited ingredient diets contain fewer ingredients and use novel protein sources to reduce the chance of an allergy or sensitivity causing an upset stomach. Common protein options include duck, venison, rabbit, or fish like salmon. Limited ingredient foods also tend to have fewer additives and fillers. When transitioning between any cat foods, do it slowly over 5-7 days. A gradual change allows the digestion to adapt without shocking the system. Changing foods too quickly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other stomach issues. Only make one major change at a time, either the protein source or wet versus dry.

When to Transition Food

When switching your cat to a new food, it’s important to transition slowly over 5-7 days. Sudden changes in diet can upset your cat’s digestive system and cause vomiting, diarrhea, or refusal to eat. Here’s a gradual transition schedule to follow:

Days 1-2: Feed 3/4 of your cat’s normal amount of the current food, and mix in 1/4 of the new food.

Days 3-4: Feed 1/2 of the current food and 1/2 of the new food.

Days 5-6: Feed 1/4 of the current food and 3/4 of the new food.

Day 7 and beyond: Feed 100% new food.

If your cat shows signs of digestive upset like vomiting or diarrhea, slow the transition down and go back to the previous ratio for a few more days. It can take some cats 10-14 days to fully transition foods. The key is to gradually increase the new while decreasing the old over a 5-7 day period to allow their digestive system time to adjust.

Always monitor your cat’s appetite and litter box habits when changing foods. Loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation or vomiting are signs the transition is too fast. Slow down and give their digestive system more time to adapt. With patience and gradual changes, you can successfully transition your cat to a new food.

Home Remedies

There are some natural home remedies that may help soothe an upset stomach and reduce vomiting in cats:

Slippery Elm Bark: Slippery elm bark contains mucilage which coats and soothes irritated stomach linings. Add 1/4 teaspoon powdered slippery elm bark to food or give directly by mouth once daily [1].

Ginger: Ginger can help reduce nausea and vomiting. Give cats 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root added to food once a day [2].

Peppermint: Peppermint may help relieve digestive upset. Make a peppermint tea using one peppermint tea bag steeped in 1 cup hot water. Let cool and give cats 1-2 tablespoons by mouth up to 3 times a day [1].

Chamomile: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the stomach. Brew a chamomile tea using 2-3 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers steeped in 1 cup hot water. Give cats 1-2 tablespoons of cooled tea up to 3 times daily [2].

Pumpkin: Pumpkin is a source of fiber that can help regulate digestion. Give cats 1-4 teaspoons plain canned pumpkin by mouth 1-2 times daily [1].




Vomiting is a common issue for cats, especially after eating. While occasional vomiting isn’t usually a big concern, persistent vomiting or vomiting combined with other symptoms warrants a trip to the vet. Cats vomit for many reasons, including eating too fast, food sensitivities, infections, parasites, and diseases like diabetes or kidney disease.

To prevent and treat vomiting, try feeding smaller, more frequent meals, transitioning to new foods gradually, and avoiding triggers like dairy and high fat foods. Home remedies like peppermint or ginger can also help calm an upset stomach. Make sure your cat stays hydrated when vomiting by providing easy access to fresh water.

If vomiting continues more than a day or two, or is accompanied by lethargy, diarrhea, or other symptoms, take your cat to the vet right away. Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other serious health issues. With proper care and some dietary adjustments, cats can live happy lives even if they have sensitive stomachs.

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