Why Is Your Cat Vomiting Her Kibble? (Curiosity-creating, contains keyword)


Cats vomiting after eating dry food is a common issue that many cat owners face. There are a number of potential reasons why cats throw up their dry food, ranging from benign to more serious causes. In most cases, vomiting after eating dry food does not indicate a major problem, especially if it only happens occasionally. However, frequent vomiting is not normal and can be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires veterinary attention.

Some of the most common reasons for a cat throwing up dry food include: eating too fast, food allergies or intolerance, dental disease, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease, foreign bodies, hairballs, and diseases like pancreatitis. Identifying the specific cause will require an exam by a veterinarian, who can run tests and diagnose any issues. Understanding the possible reasons why a cat is vomiting after eating dry food is the first step to getting to the root of the problem and finding an effective solution.

Food Allergies

Some of the most common food allergies in cats that can cause vomiting include allergies to:

– Beef

– Fish

– Chicken

– Dairy products

Cats must be exposed to the allergen ingredient first before developing an allergy. Food allergies in cats often develop after years of eating the same food. They can start showing symptoms like vomiting between ages 1-6.

Some of the common symptoms of food allergies in cats include:

– Vomiting

– Diarrhea

– Itchy skin or ears

– Hair loss

– Sneezing

If a cat has a food allergy, switching to a hypoallergenic diet or novel protein diet can help eliminate symptoms. Novel proteins the cat hasn’t eaten before like venison, rabbit, or duck may be tolerated. Hydrolyzed protein diets also help reduce exposure to potential allergens.

Cats with suspected food allergies should see a vet. Blood tests or elimination diet trials can help diagnose food allergies in cats.




Eating Too Fast

Cats are prone to eating their food too quickly, especially dry food. When cats gulp down their food, they tend to swallow more air which can lead to vomiting. As they swallow large chunks of kibble rapidly, their stomachs expand too fast which triggers nausea and regurgitation. According to Dutch, eating too quickly may cause cats to vomit either by regurgitation or gastrointestinal distress.

To prevent your cat from eating too fast, use a puzzle feeder or ball to make them work for their food. This slows them down and reduces air intake. You can also mix in some canned food which most cats eat slower than dry kibble. Eventually, your cat should learn to pace themselves when eating to avoid vomiting.

Dental Disease

Dental disease is a common cause of vomiting in cats. Periodontal disease affects over 70% of cats by age 3, and can cause significant pain and discomfort when eating (1). Dental issues like stomatitis, gingivitis, and tooth resorption lead to inflammation in the mouth, making it painful for cats to properly chew their food (2).

When cats have dental pain, they tend to swallow dry food whole without properly chewing it. This can lead to indigestion and vomiting of whole, undigested kibble pieces shortly after eating (3). The hardness of dry food can further irritate their inflamed gums and make chewing agonizing. To cope with dental pain, cats may vomit up the irritating kibble rather than forcing themselves to fully chew and swallow it.

Treatment for dental disease includes professional teeth cleaning by a vet, antibiotics, pain medication, and switching to wet cat food that is easier to eat. Addressing dental health issues can often stop associated vomiting of dry food in cats.


Cats can get infected with various intestinal parasites like worms and protozoa that can irritate the digestive tract and cause vomiting. Some common feline parasites include roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and lungworms. Roundworms are one of the most prevalent parasites in cats. Kittens are often born infected with roundworms which are transmitted from the mother in utero or through nursing. Adult cats can get infected by ingesting roundworm eggs from contaminated soil or prey. An intestinal roundworm infection can cause digestive upset, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and a potbellied appearance.

Protozoan parasites like Giardia and Coccidia can also infect the small intestine and cause vomiting and diarrhea. These single-celled organisms shed cysts that are passed in the stool and spread through contaminated food or water. Testing a stool sample is needed to diagnose a protozoal infection. Parasites should be treated with dewormers and anti-protozoal medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic digestive disorder that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract in cats (Cornell University Feline Health Center, 2017). The exact cause of IBD is unknown, but it is thought to involve an abnormal interaction between gut bacteria, the intestinal immune system, and environmental factors (VCA Animal Hospitals, 2022).

The main sign of IBD in cats is chronic vomiting as a result of stomach inflammation. Other symptoms include weight loss, diarrhea, bloody stools, decreased appetite, and lethargy. These signs vary in severity between individual cats (VCA Animal Hospitals, 2022).

IBD is diagnosed through blood tests, fecal exams to rule out parasites, ultrasound, and biopsy of the intestines. Treatment focuses on managing inflammation with immunosuppressive drugs like prednisolone, diet modification, and addressing any secondary infections. IBD can be a lifelong condition in cats, but is manageable with ongoing treatment and monitoring.

Foreign Body

One cause of a cat throwing up dry food could be an intestinal obstruction from ingesting a foreign object 1. Cats are notorious for eating non-food items like string, wool, rubber bands, and small toys. These indigestible objects often pass through the cat’s system on their own. However, sometimes they can get stuck in the intestinal tract and cause a blockage 2.

Common signs of an intestinal foreign body obstruction include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and dehydration. The cat may also show signs of abdominal pain. Linear foreign bodies like string can cause intermittent vomiting over a period of weeks before fully obstructing the intestines 3. Any suspected foreign body obstruction is an emergency requiring immediate veterinary care.


One of the most common reasons cats vomit up their dry food is hairballs1. As cats groom themselves, they ingest large amounts of fur. Most of this fur passes through their digestive system and is eliminated in feces. However, some of it can accumulate in the stomach and form a hairball2.

Cats attempt to vomit up hairballs to clear them from their stomachs. The gagging, retching motions associated with hairball vomiting are due to the esophagus contracting to move the hairball upwards. Hairballs can cause vomiting immediately after eating, since the hairball may be moved upwards as food enters the stomach. Vomiting hairballs is a normal part of a cat’s life, but excessive vomiting can indicate an issue.

To reduce hairball vomiting, brush cats regularly to remove excess fur and consider a cat food formulated to support hairball management. Seek veterinary advice if vomiting persists beyond one or two hairballs, as it may indicate an underlying health condition3.


Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that can occur in cats. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, pancreatitis occurs when digestive enzymes are activated prematurely and begin “digesting” the pancreas itself, causing inflammation [1]. This inflammation of the pancreas leads to abdominal pain and vomiting in cats [2].

The symptoms of feline pancreatitis often include nausea, vomiting, fever, lethargy, and decreased appetite. Specifically, vomiting is a common symptom, as the inflammation interferes with proper digestion and may cause vomiting after eating [3]. Some cats may exhibit more severe symptoms depending on the extent of the inflammation and damage to the pancreas. However, vomiting shortly after eating is often one of the first signs of pancreatitis in cats.

When to See the Vet

There are certain warning signs that indicate you should take your cat to the vet immediately for vomiting. These include:

  • Vomiting more than 2-3 times in one day
  • Vomiting that contains blood or looks like coffee grounds
  • Severe gagging or unproductive retching
  • Vomiting and diarrhea at the same time
  • Vomiting along with lethargy, decreased appetite, or other signs of illness
  • Vomiting anything unusual like string, rocks, socks, etc. which could indicate a foreign body obstruction
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting and not wanting to eat or drink anything
  • Young kittens or cats vomiting more than once in a day

It’s important to monitor the frequency and nature of your cat’s vomiting closely. Any significant changes or concerning symptoms warrant a prompt veterinary visit to identify the cause and get treatment before your cat becomes dehydrated or the issue worsens. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if you have any doubts about whether vomiting needs urgent care. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your cat’s health.

Scroll to Top