Your Cat Threw Up – Should You Feed Him After?


It’s a common scenario – you wake up in the morning to find your cat has vomited on the floor. As you clean up the mess, your mind races with questions. Should I go ahead and feed her breakfast like normal? Or will that make her throw up again? Is it better to withhold food for now?

Deciding whether or not to feed a cat after vomiting can be a confusing decision for pet owners. Cats rely on us to provide their meals on a regular schedule. So when a vomiting episode occurs, it disrupts their routine and leaves you wondering what to do next.

The purpose of this article is to offer clear guidance on when you should and should not feed a cat after vomiting. By understanding the risks, fasting guidelines, and how to gradually reintroduce food, you can get your cat back on track to their normal eating routine.

Why Cats Vomit

Vomiting is a common occurrence in cats and can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes of vomiting in cats include:

  • Hairballs – Cats groom themselves regularly and ingest a lot of fur. This fur can form hairballs that irritate the stomach and cause vomiting as the cat tries to expel them. Hairballs are one of the most frequent causes of vomiting in cats (Source).
  • Eating Too Fast – When cats eat too quickly, they may swallow air which can later lead to vomiting. Eating too much food at once can also overwhelm the stomach and lead to vomiting (Source).
  • Food Sensitivities or Allergies – Some cats may have sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients in their food. This can irritate the stomach and lead to vomiting (Source).
  • Infections – Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections can cause inflammation in the stomach and lead to vomiting. Common examples include panleukopenia virus, gastroenteritis, and parasitic infections (Source).
  • Foreign Bodies – Cats may swallow small objects like string or plastic which become stuck in the digestive tract, causing irritation, obstruction, and vomiting (Source).

There are many potential causes for vomiting in cats, ranging from benign hairballs to more serious conditions. Paying attention to the frequency, volume, and any associated symptoms can help narrow down the cause.

Risks of Feeding After Vomiting

There are some risks associated with feeding your cat too soon after a vomiting episode. According to Dutch (, feeding your cat again after vomiting can cause more vomiting or diarrhea if the underlying issue that caused the initial vomiting persists. The stomach needs time to settle, so food may be brought back up if the stomach is still unsettled.

As Arrowdogcat ( explains, veterinarians recommend waiting before feeding after a cat vomits to give the stomach time to rest and recover. Feeding too soon can overwhelm the stomach and cause more vomiting episodes.

The risks of immediate feeding are further vomiting or diarrhea. It’s best to let the stomach rest by fasting for a period before slowly reintroducing small portions of bland food.

When Not to Feed

There are certain situations when it is not recommended to feed your cat after vomiting. These include:

If vomiting is frequent or chronic – More than a couple times per week or daily vomiting could indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention (VCA Animal Hospitals). Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

If accompanied by lethargy, diarrhea, etc. – Symptoms beyond vomiting such as lethargy, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or others may be signs of illness that warrant a vet visit (Carolina Veterinary Specialists). It’s best not to feed as it could exacerbate the condition.

Symptoms of concern that warrant vet visit – Yellow or green vomit, vomit that smells rancid, contains blood or looks like coffee grounds, vomiting along with lack of appetite or dehydration, vomiting and lethargy for more than a day require urgent veterinary care (Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine). Do not feed until the vet has examined your cat.

Fasting Guidelines

After a vomiting episode, it is generally recommended to fast your cat for 12-24 hours. Fasting allows the stomach to rest and recover from any irritation caused by the vomiting. Most experts advise withholding all food for at least 12 hours after the last vomiting episode.

It is important to continue providing your cat with fresh water during the fast. Dehydration can occur after excessive vomiting, so water should be available at all times. Monitor your cat’s water intake and contact your vet if you notice a decreased appetite for water.

While fasting, keep a close eye on your cat for any signs of lethargy, continued vomiting, or other concerning symptoms. Cats can become hypoglycemic when fasting for too long. Contact your vet if vomiting continues or if your cat exhibits any signs of illness during the fast.

Most healthy cats tolerate a 12-24 hour fast after vomiting without complications. Stay in close contact with your vet throughout your cat’s fast to monitor progress and determine when to safely reintroduce food.

Reintroducing Food

After the fasting period, you’ll want to reintroduce food slowly to your cat’s diet. Start with small amounts of bland, easily digestible foods like boiled chicken, rice, or pumpkin. Give just 1-2 tablespoons at first, and wait a few hours to see if vomiting resumes before giving more.

If your cat keeps the initial small feeding down, you can gradually increase portions over the next 12-24 hours, but continue feeding bland foods. Give small amounts frequently, such as a tablespoon every 3-4 hours.

Monitor your cat closely during refeeding. Make sure they are tolerating the bland diet and not showing any vomiting or diarrhea. If symptoms do recur, stop feeding again and contact your veterinarian.

Stick with the bland food for 1-2 days until your cat’s stomach has settled. Then you can gradually transition back to their regular diet. Mix a little bit of the regular food in with the bland food at first, and incrementally increase the regular food ratio over several days.

Transitioning Back to Regular Diet

After your cat has been on the bland diet for a day or two without vomiting or diarrhea, you can start mixing their regular food back in slowly over 3-5 days. This gradual transition gives your cat’s digestive system time to adjust to their regular diet again.

Start by mixing a small amount of their regular food in with the bland diet, such as 25% regular food and 75% bland diet. Slowly increase the regular food ratio over the next few days until your cat is back to 100% regular food after about 5 days.

Keep an eye out for any recurrent vomiting or diarrhea as you transition their diet, as that may be a sign to slow down the switch. According to this source, total transition time from bland diet to regular diet after upset tummy signs are gone takes about 5 days. It’s often scary to revert back to normal food, but a gradual transition should prevent further gastrointestinal upset.

Preventing Future Vomiting Episodes

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

Regular vet checkups can help catch any underlying health issues early. Your vet can examine your cat and determine if there are any concerns that may be causing vomiting.

Brushing your cat regularly can help minimize hairballs. Daily brushing removes loose hair before your cat swallows it while grooming. Be sure to use a brush designed specifically for cats.

Feeding hairball control cat food can help cats pass hairballs easier. These foods have added fiber and fat to help move hair through the digestive tract. Switching to hairball control food may help reduce vomiting frequency.

Using a slow feed bowl can prevent cats from eating too quickly. Gulping food can lead to indigestion and vomiting. Slow feed bowls have mazes or obstacles so cats must eat slower.

Feeding set meals rather than free feeding can help regulate digestion. When cats graze all day, they may overwhelm their digestive system. Feeding set portions 2-3 times a day gives the stomach time to fully digest meals.

When to See the Vet

Vomiting can be concerning, but often resolves on its own. However, you should take your cat to the vet if vomiting persists for more than 24 hours or is accompanied by concerning symptoms like lethargy, diarrhea, signs of pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, or fever (Texas A&M, VCA).

Specifically, contact your vet if your cat shows any of the following (Carolina Veterinary Specialists):

  • Repeated vomiting more than 2-3 times in 24 hours
  • Lack of appetite or refusal to eat for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy, weakness, or other signs of pain/distress
  • Diarrhea in addition to vomiting
  • Weight loss or dehydration from excessive vomiting and lack of eating
  • Vomit containing blood or resembles coffee grounds
  • Fever over 102.5 F (39.2 C)

A vet visit can identify any underlying illness and provide supportive care to get your cat back on track. Prompt treatment is key, as prolonged vomiting and appetite loss can lead to liver damage and other complications.


In summary, vomiting is a common occurrence in cats and can be caused by a variety of factors. While you can wait 1-2 hours after vomiting before offering a small amount of bland food or water, prolonged or repetitive vomiting requires veterinary attention to identify the underlying cause. It’s important to monitor your cat after an episode of vomiting and note any changes in behavior or appetite. Temporary fasting and gradually reintroducing their regular food over 2-3 days can help settle their stomach. To reduce future vomiting, feed a high-quality diet, avoid sudden changes in food, don’t overfeed, ensure adequate hydration, reduce stress, and keep your home clean. If in doubt about your cat’s vomiting, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian, as catching issues early greatly improves the chances of effective treatment. For more in-depth cat health resources, see the VCA Animal Hospitals cat care library or Cornell Feline Health Center.

Scroll to Top