Help! My Cat Keeps Throwing Up But Acts Perfectly Healthy


It’s not unusual for cats to vomit occasionally, but frequent vomiting can indicate an underlying health issue. This article will cover some of the common causes of vomiting in cats, signs that warrant veterinary attention, diagnosing vomiting, home treatment options, prevention tips, and when you should seek veterinary care for a cat that keeps throwing up.

We’ll start by discussing normal vomiting behavior in cats versus abnormal vomiting that requires medical attention. Next, we’ll explore some of the top reasons your cat may be throwing up, ranging from eating too fast to serious diseases. Understanding the difference between acute, intermittent, and chronic vomiting is key. Signs that require prompt veterinary care will also be covered.

To properly diagnose the cause of your cat’s vomiting, we’ll go over the diagnostic steps a vet may use. Treatment options at home and from your veterinarian will be detailed as well. Tips to help reduce vomiting episodes will be provided. Finally, we’ll summarize when you should seek veterinary attention for a cat vomiting frequently.

When Vomiting May Be Normal

Vomiting is quite common in cats and not always a cause for concern. In healthy cats, occasional vomiting is often normal. For example, cats regularly ingest hair while grooming themselves, and these hairballs can cause gagging and vomiting as the cat tries to expel them. Vomiting may also occur if a cat eats too fast and swallows air, or consumes grass to induce vomiting to relieve an upset stomach.

According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, most healthy cats vomit no more than once per week. Episodes are often triggered by hairballs, eating too fast, or other minor stomach upsets. As long as the cat is otherwise acting normal, with no signs of lethargy or loss of appetite, these occasional vomiting episodes are not worrisome. However, if vomiting becomes more frequent or is accompanied by other symptoms, it warrants a veterinary visit to determine the underlying cause.


Common Causes of Vomiting

There are several common causes of vomiting in cats. Some of the most frequent include:

  • Dietary issues – Eating too fast, food allergies, intolerances, or spoiled food can all lead to vomiting. Switching foods abruptly can also upset a cat’s stomach.
  • Hairballs – As cats groom themselves, they swallow fur. Over time, this builds up into hairballs that are vomited up. Long-haired cats are especially prone.
  • Foreign object ingestion – Cats may vomit after eating items like string, plastic, or houseplants that irritate their digestive tract.
  • Parasites – Worms, like roundworms and tapeworms, can cause vomiting, especially in kittens. Giardia protozoa can also lead to vomiting.
  • Viral infections – Feline panleukopenia, calicivirus, and other viruses target the intestines and cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Food allergies or intolerances – Allergies to ingredients like beef, dairy, or fish can make cats vomit after meals. Food intolerances have a similar effect.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – Chronic gastrointestinal inflammation interferes with digestion and causes vomiting.

If your cat is vomiting frequently, take note of any dietary changes, exposure to parasites, or other possible causes. Seek veterinary help to pinpoint the underlying issue.

Signs of Serious Illness

While occasional vomiting does not always require a vet visit, there are certain symptoms that indicate a cat needs to be seen by a veterinarian. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (source), signs of serious illness in a vomiting cat include:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Decreased or absent appetite
  • Significant weight loss
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased vomiting frequency – more than 1-2 times per week
  • Vomiting that lasts more than 1-2 days

Cats showing any of these symptoms along with vomiting need to be evaluated by a vet as soon as possible. The vet can run tests to determine if there is an underlying condition, infection, obstruction, or other illness causing the vomiting and other symptoms.

According to the VCA Animal Hospitals (source), other signs of serious illness in cats include lethargy, decreased social interaction, changes in litter box habits, changes in breathing or panting, skin problems, eye discharge, and straining to urinate or defecate. If a cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms in addition to vomiting, immediate veterinary care is required.

Diagnosing the Cause

If your cat is vomiting frequently or showing concerning symptoms, the vet will run diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. Common diagnostics include:

  • Bloodwork – A complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile can check for signs of infection, kidney issues, liver problems, electrolyte imbalances, and more (source).
  • Urinalysis – Testing the cat’s urine can reveal if there are issues with the urinary tract, diabetes, kidney disease, or toxins in the body (source).
  • Imaging – X-rays or ultrasound can check for foreign objects, tumors, pancreatitis, intestinal obstructions, or other issues (source).
  • Endoscopy – A camera scope inserted in the mouth allows vets to directly view the esophagus, stomach, and upper intestines for ulcers, growths, obstructions, and inflammation (source).

Based on the diagnostic findings, the vet can determine the appropriate treatment.

Treating Vomiting

The treatment for vomiting will depend on the underlying cause. If the vomiting is due to dietary indiscretion, the most common treatment is to withhold food for 12-24 hours to allow the gastrointestinal tract to rest. Water can be offered during this period (VCA Animal Hospitals).

If an infection or inflammation is causing the vomiting, medications may be prescribed, including antiemetics like maropitant to control vomiting, or steroids like prednisolone to reduce inflammation (Cornell Feline Health Center). Antibiotics may also be prescribed if there is a bacterial infection present.

In cases of chronic vomiting, dietary changes are often recommended, like switching to a bland, easily digestible food. Feed small, frequent meals rather than large meals to make digestion easier on the stomach (Merck Veterinary Manual).

At home care like providing easy access to fresh water, warmth, and rest are also important for a cat recovering from vomiting. Seek prompt veterinary care if the vomiting persists or the cat seems lethargic.

Preventing Future Episodes

There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent future vomiting episodes:

Slow Feeders: Using a slow feeder bowl that has ridges or mazes can slow down your cat’s eating and prevent them from gorging, which can lead to vomiting. Slow feeders promote healthier eating habits.

Routine Vet Visits: Bringing your cat to the vet for annual checkups and vaccinations can help catch any underlying health issues early. The vet can also advise you on your cat’s ideal diet and weight.

High-Quality Diet: Feeding your cat a high-quality commercial cat food that is designed for their specific age and health requirements can help prevent digestive issues. Avoid cheap brands with fillers.

Hairball Control Food: Some cats are prone to hairballs, which are a common cause of vomiting. Feeding a hairball control cat food with added fiber and omega fatty acids can help move hair through the digestive tract.

Avoid Too Many Treats: Giving too many table scraps and treats on top of their regular food can lead to upset stomach and vomiting. Stick to occasional treats in moderation.

Monitor Weight: An overweight cat is more prone to vomiting. Keep your cat at a healthy weight by measuring their food and consulting with your vet.

Limit Food Changes: When transitioning to a new food, do it gradually over the course of a week or two to give their stomach time to adjust.

Avoid Overfeeding: Feeding the proper portions for your cat’s size and age will help prevent digestive issues.

Water Fountains: Adding a cat water fountain can encourage increased water intake, which aids digestion.

When to See the Vet

Most cases of vomiting are not emergencies. However, there are some signs that warrant an urgent vet visit:

– Repeated vomiting or dry heaving with nothing coming up (source 1)

– Vomiting that continues for more than 24 hours (source 2)

– Signs of blood in the vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds (source 2)

– Vomiting along with lethargy, weakness, or other signs of illness (source 2)

– Vomiting and diarrhea at the same time (source 3)

– Vomiting accompanied by crying, retching, or gagging (source 3)

– Difficulty breathing, excessive panting, or distress (source 3)

– Weight loss along with vomiting (source 1)

If your cat shows any of these signs along with vomiting, take them to the vet right away. Cats can become dehydrated quickly when vomiting repeatedly, and prompt treatment is needed. Don’t wait to see if the vomiting improves on its own. It’s better to have the vet examine your cat and find out the cause of the vomiting.

Caring For Your Cat

If your cat is vomiting frequently at home, there are some steps you can take to help care for them:

Staying hydrated is crucial, so make sure fresh water is always available. You can also offer small amounts of tuna juice or low-sodium chicken broth to encourage drinking [1]. Ice chips are another good option.

Feed small, frequent meals of a bland diet like boiled chicken and rice to calm the stomach [2]. Avoid fatty, spicy, or rich foods during vomiting episodes.

Make sure the litter box is clean and accessible. Cats may vomit if they cannot comfortably access their litter box.

Allow your cat to rest and recover in a comfortable, quiet space. Provide easy access to their bed, toys, and litter box.

Gently wipe any vomit from your cat’s face and paws to keep them clean and comfortable.

Monitor their litter box habits, food intake, and energy levels. Track any patterns or changes to share with your vet.

Contact your vet if vomiting lasts more than 24 hours, is projectile, contains blood, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms.


In summary, while occasional vomiting is normal for cats, chronic or projectile vomiting can indicate a serious health problem. If your cat is vomiting repeatedly, seems lethargic or in pain, has a loss of appetite, or other concerning symptoms, take them to the vet right away. With treatment of any underlying condition and some preventive measures, you can help reduce your cat’s vomiting episodes. Make sure to monitor their symptoms closely and don’t hesitate to have them seen if the vomiting persists or you notice additional worrying signs. While throwing up is no fun for either you or kitty, addressing it promptly can help prevent dangerous complications and keep your furry friend happy and healthy.

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