Is Your Cat’s Vomit Normal or Dangerous? The Colors You Need to Know


Cats commonly vomit from time to time, so it’s important for cat owners to understand what is considered normal cat vomiting versus when vomiting may indicate an underlying health issue. Knowing what normal cat vomit looks like in terms of color, texture, and frequency can help cat owners determine when veterinary care may be necessary. Understanding the common causes of feline vomiting and learning how to prevent and treat it at home can also be helpful for monitoring your cat’s health.

This article provides an overview of normal and abnormal cat vomiting, including what colors and textures are typical, how often vomiting may occur, and what potential illnesses certain vomit characteristics may signal. We’ll also explore home remedies for treating vomiting as well as when to seek emergency veterinary care.

What Causes Cats to Vomit?

There are several common causes for cats vomiting:

  • Hairballs – Cats groom themselves regularly and swallow loose hair. Over time, the hair can build up into a hairball that is vomited up. Hairballs are a normal part of a cat’s digestive process.
  • Eating Too Fast – When cats eat too quickly, they may swallow air which can lead to vomiting. Eating too much in one sitting can also overwhelm the stomach.
  • Infections – Viral infections like panleukopenia, bacterial infections, and parasites can all irritate the stomach and lead to vomiting. Infections need to be diagnosed and treated by a vet.
  • Food Allergies or Intolerances – Some cats have sensitivities to ingredients in food like wheat, corn, chicken, or fish. An allergy can make cats nauseous.
  • Blockages – Cats may swallow foreign objects like string, rubber bands, or plastic which could get stuck in the intestines and cause a blockage. Blockages prevent food from passing through the digestive tract.
  • Kidney Disease – Kidney disease is common in older cats and can cause stomach upset. The kidneys help filter waste from the bloodstream, so when they are damaged toxins build up and cause nausea.

If your cat is vomiting frequently, it’s important to take them to the vet for an examination. The vet can run tests to determine the underlying cause and provide proper treatment.

Normal Vomit Colors

There are a few normal vomit colors cat owners may observe:

While these vomit colors are generally normal, pet owners should monitor the frequency as sometimes frequent vomiting warrants a veterinary visit.

What Does Yellow Vomit Mean?

Yellow vomit in cats is usually bile from an empty stomach and is not concerning on its own. According to The Spruce Pets, “Yellow liquid vomit is usually a combination of bile and stomach acids.”

Bile is a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It contains bile salts that help break down fats during the digestive process. Vet Help Direct explains that “If your cat is vomiting small amounts of yellow or green, frothy liquid, this is usually bile and stomach juices.”

When a cat has an empty stomach, small amounts of bile can accumulate and then be vomited up. Pet Care RX notes this is especially common first thing in the morning before eating breakfast. While alarming to see, mild bile vomiting by itself is not a cause for concern in most cases.

When to See the Vet

You should bring your cat to the vet if vomiting persists for more than a day or two, as this can be a sign of a serious medical issue (source). Specifically, seek veterinary attention if your cat is vomiting bile (yellow or greenish liquid), blood, or foreign objects like hairballs or pieces of toys. These types of vomit can indicate diseases, obstructions, or other problems that require treatment.

Bile vomit, also called bilious vomiting syndrome, happens when the cat’s stomach is empty for too long and bile backs up into the stomach. This irritates the stomach lining and triggers vomiting. While occasional bile vomit is not too concerning, chronic vomiting of bile may suggest liver or gastrointestinal disease (source).

Vomiting blood (hematemesis) or blood-tinged vomit can signal a tear or ulcer in the stomach, esophagus, or intestines. It requires prompt veterinary care to identify and treat the underlying cause (source).

If your cat vomits up foreign objects like hairballs, string, bones, or other debris, a blockage or obstruction may be present. Cats are prone to swallowing objects that can get lodged in their digestive tract. Take your cat to the vet right away if an obstruction is suspected.

Preventing Vomiting

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

Feeding a proper diet is important. Cats should eat a high-quality food formulated for their specific age and health status. Feed an age-appropriate food and avoid cheap brands with fillers. Stick to a consistent diet and make any changes gradually to avoid upset stomach. See this source for diet tips.

Using a slow feeder bowl can prevent cats from eating too quickly, which can lead to vomiting. These bowls have maze-like patterns to make the cat slow down. See this article for slow feeder recommendations.

Regular brushing and grooming keeps hairballs under control. Use a cat brush and comb daily or several times a week to remove loose hair before it’s swallowed. Special deshedding tools can also help.

Hairball remedy supplements support digestive health. Look for products with petroleum or other lubricants and fiber to ease passage of hairballs. Always follow label directions.

Treating Vomiting at Home

The first step in treating vomiting at home is to withhold all food for 12-24 hours to give the stomach a chance to rest. Do not completely restrict access to water during this time. Make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean water so they stay hydrated. You can try offering ice cubes or low-sodium broths to encourage fluid intake.

Keeping your cat hydrated when vomiting is crucial. Dehydration can quickly become dangerous for cats. Try giving unflavored Pedialyte, which provides electrolytes, or tuna water to replenish fluids and nutrients (Source 1). Monitor their litter box for normal urination.

Once your cat has gone 12-24 hours without vomiting, you can begin reintroducing bland, easy-to-digest foods. Boiled chicken, white rice, scrambled eggs, and pumpkin are gentle on the stomach. Offer small portions 3-4 times a day. Gradually transition back to their normal diet over 3-5 days. Avoid rich or fatty foods until vomiting has fully subsided.

Ginger and mint may help soothe nausea. Try brewing a mild ginger tea or adding a pinch of mint to their food. Always consult your veterinarian before giving cats any new supplements or herbs (Source 2).

Vomiting vs. Regurgitation

Vomiting and regurgitation may look similar, but they are actually two different processes with different causes (

Vomiting involves the forceful evacuation of food or liquid from the stomach out through the mouth. It is an active process that requires abdominal contractions. Vomit may contain food, bile, hairballs, or foam.

Regurgitation, on the other hand, is more passive. The food or liquid comes back up easily from the esophagus without any abdominal effort. Regurgitation often occurs right after eating or drinking.

Vomiting is usually caused by irritation of the stomach or intestines, infections, obstructions, motion sickness, or toxin ingestion. Regurgitation can be caused by issues swallowing food, esophageal obstructions, or megaesophagus.

Treatment will depend on identifying the underlying cause. Vomiting needs to be addressed promptly as it can lead to dehydration. Regurgitation may only require feeding adjustments or medications. Consult a vet to determine the appropriate treatment.

When to Go to the ER

Some types of vomiting warrant an immediate emergency vet visit. According to Veterinary Emergency Group, you should take your cat to the ER if they are vomiting blood, have not had a bowel movement in over 2 days, or are extremely lethargic and weak.

Vomiting blood or coffee ground-like material can signal a serious medical issue like an ulcer, tumor, or poisoning. According to How to Know When to Take Your Cat to the Emergency Vet, blood in a cat’s vomit needs veterinary attention right away as it can be life-threatening.

A complete lack of bowel movements for over 48 hours paired with vomiting is cause for concern, as it may indicate a dangerous blockage or obstruction. Per Emergencies in Cats | VCA Animal Hospitals, this requires prompt emergency care.

Extreme lethargy or weakness along with frequent vomiting is another red flag symptom, as dehydration can set in quickly. Cats showing no interest in food or water and minimal response to stimuli need IV fluids and anti-nausea medication right away, advises My cat keeps vomiting! Should I head to the emergency vet?.


In summary, the normal color of cat vomit can vary depending on what the cat has recently eaten. Yellow, beige, brown, and green vomit are often normal and no cause for alarm as long as the cat is acting normally otherwise. Clear, white, or red vomit can indicate more serious conditions like infections, parasites, or gastrointestinal bleeding, and warrant a veterinary visit.

It’s important to monitor all vomiting episodes for any signs of illness in your cat like lethargy, decreased appetite, or diarrhea. Acute, projectile vomiting or any vomit that contains blood is not normal and requires immediate veterinary care. While occasional vomiting may be normal, recurrent or excessive vomiting is a sign that something more serious is going on and your cat should be seen by a vet. Being aware of the difference between your cat’s normal and abnormal vomiting colors can help you determine when it’s time to call the vet.

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