The Big Question: Why does my cat keep throwing up?
Rest assured, this is a common occurrence in cats, and many of the reasons for this are perfectly natural and will pass without any intervention needed. Other vomiting episodes can be precursors of larger systemic issues with your feline companion.
Knowing a few key questions to ask and symptoms of acceptable incidents and those that should cause you to intervene with a vet visit is critical.
This list is an effort to give a comprehensive checklist of sorts to help evaluate your cat’s health when throwing up has occurred. Educate yourself in advance, which will ensure that in times of stress and a cat has thrown up, you will be prepared to act in your pet’s best interest.
Why Does My Cat Keep Throwing Up?
Cats spend a great deal of time grooming themselves. Cat’s tongues have a special hook system that ensures that they facilitate this grooming habit. These hooks, though, get hairs caught in them and can pass these through to the stomach. We all have encountered a cat with a hairball.
These are sometimes too large to pass in their stool – the only option is back up through the mouth. This vomiting cause and effect are the most common in felines and part of the natural cycle, requiring no additional vet interventions in most instances.
Interestingly, hairballs do not always come out of cats as ‘balls.’ So why are they ‘hairballs’ anyway? When your cats throw up, the hairballs may come out as tube-shaped because of the form they have taken in their esophagus.
Never fear. Simply give them their space, let nature take its course, and then clean up if needed. Keep a close eye, though, because these harmless natural occurrences can escalate without notice to something more critical.
How Do I Know When My Cat Has Hairballs?
Now comes the bad news for pet parents. The gagging, retching, and noises that come along with hairballs being vomited up can be quite problematic.
These hairballs can, in some cases, cause intestinal blockage and other significant cat health concerns. It is imperative not to panic immediately upon hairball symptoms but keep a close eye on your feline friend.
You know your cat better than anyone else. Watch for retching that doesn’t produce a hairball. This can be a symptom of something more critical like asthma or other health concerns.
Additionally, hairball symptoms are diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, or lack of appetite, which can cause other concerns for our pet if not rectified quickly.
If the cat does not begin eating when the hairball passes, this may need to be looked at by a vet or at the very least seek advice on what to continue to watch or try to use to alleviate the symptoms.
MOUTH OR THROAT CANCERS
Unbeknownst to many cat owners, white-faced cats especially those who spend a lot of time in a sunny window are prone to a type of skin cancer that DOES NOT SHOW on the outside but instead affects the gums, the upper portion of the mouth, and the tongue and throat.
Unable to pass hairballs down to the stomach when facing this cancer does cause throwing up and should be subject to veterinary intervention immediately as this is a fast-spreading cancer. Hairball throwing up is common occasionally but several times each day will indicate a bigger problem.
EATING TOO FAST
Eating too fast may cause your cat to throw up. When you have more than one cat, do you know that they may have a kind of food competition at mealtime? It sure does sound like fun to them too, but then you may end up scrubbing your beloved rug.
As a simple fix-it, simply separate their food bowl to prevent episodes of regurgitation. Most of the time, dry cat foods are a culprit; this is because they ordinarily absorb water, thereby expanding the walls of your kitty’s bowels. Immediately, the brain receives a regurgitation alert, and then the result ends up on your floor.
Try slow cat feeders or toys that require them to work for the tidbits of food and even spacing portions out during the day as methods of attempting to get them to slow down on their eating pace. Finally, remember cats aren’t wonderful drinkers by nature, but offering a bit of water might
If fast feeding and grooming aren’t the culprits for your cat’s vomiting episode, food allergies may be a possible cause. It is essential to take your cat’s nutrition seriously. Food allergies occur when your cat reacts to a particular ingredient or an additive. It is merely a physiological reaction.
Most of the time, it is caused by eating a specific kind of cat food repeatedly, especially foods with sources of protein like milk, fish, and beef. Cats love milk, alright, but is it the proper kind of milk that the enzymes in his bowels can break down digest.
Cats of all ages may develop food allergies, and inflammations or infections may also cause it.
How do I know when my cat is allergic to food?
Common signs of food intolerance may include:
✔ Inflammation of the skin
✔ Coughing and sneezing
✔ Ear infection
✔ Hair loss
✔ Weight loss
✔ Vomiting and a host of many other causes.
What do I do?
Take some time out to study your cat during and after feeding sessions. Is he or she reacting to a particular food you are using? Why is it that he cannot seem to keep a specific kind of food down?
In this case, you may check out the ingredients or contents of his foods and try the elimination technique. Look out for artificial colorings, emulsifiers, and preservatives in cat food. They may be pointers to why your kitty’s got food intolerances.
You also have to be mindful of the treats and snacks he eats. Know that cat allergies can last for a long, long time. If it gets more serious, please consult your kitty’s nutritionist and vet.
Treating food allergies
It might be necessary to place your cat on a new diet for a while to see what happens. He may also be placed on a specialized diet that does not cause a homemade reaction. Medication like antihistamines and antibiotics may also be the way out.
DEFICIENCY OF SOME ENZYMES
Usually, enzymes are produced by a cat’s pancreas, which helps break down and digest foods in its bowels. Such enzymes include protease, amylase, and lipase. Insufficiency of these may lead to pancreatitis, whereby they cannot absorb nutrients, and their foods also do not digest. Hence, they have constipation and throw it all up.
Signs of deficient digestive enzymes may range from parasitic infections to an inflamed pancreas or diabetes. Whatever the case may be, a visit to the vet’s clinic would reveal the problem’s exact cause.
The vet usually undertakes a differential diagnosis, including a parasitic test, urinalysis, or blood test. In other cases, your cat may need to be sustained on supplementary digestive enzymes included in the food. This way, your cat can still digest foods and have a quality life span.
INGESTED A FOREIGN OBJECT/SUBSTANCE
Sometimes, cats are also caught red-handed, nibbling at some bad stuff. This may include grass, paper, toys, feathers, bones, etc.
While some experts say that grass eating may be a laxative for cats, it may actually cause them to gag and vomit. This is because cats do not produce the right kinds of enzymes to digest grass or other foreign materials.
An easy way out of this may be to prevent your cat from grazing the grass, keep your plants out of her reach, make her environment pet-friendly, or use catnips.
INGESTION OF TOXINS
I am sure you have heard the saying, which goes this way, “curiosity killed the cat.” Cats are inquisitive pets. They love to experiment, even to their detriment, but you cannot just get cross with them, not with their soulful eyes and moans when it all gets bad. Now, how do cats get toxins into their system?
✔ Eating poisoned food or dead animals such as prey.
✔ Inhaling poison
✔ Absorbing poison through their paws and skin
✔ Swallowing poisoned fur. Watch what you use for flea and tick control!
Possible warnings that your cat may be poisoned
✔ Difficulty in breathing
✔ Inflammations and swellings
✔ Weight loss
✔ An appearance of drunkenness.
✔ Neurological signs, such as excitement, depression, etc.
Cats of all ages are susceptible to parasites. Parasites that cause problems in the cat include tapeworms, roundworms, heartworms, hookworms, and so on, and they are usually found in the intestines of cats. Let’s check some of these out.
Tapeworms are frequently found in fleas, rabbits, rodents, and birds. Your cat can’t get tapeworms directly, but only through intermediate hosts such as these.
Common symptoms that your cat could have tapeworms at work in her are digestive disruptions and stunted growth, especially in kittens. In older cats, it may cause intestinal blockage.
What do you do to prevent your cat from getting into contact with these intermediate hosts?
Since cats love to hunt, especially when they are outdoors, they may ingest dead fleas, rodents, or birds. It may be necessary to restrict your cat’s sphere of play and hunting.
Roundworms are quite notorious for stunted growth in cats. They result in too much gas production in cats and, of course, a disruption in the digestion of food, which may lead to gagging and retching. Roundworms are usually found in the intestines and do not require an intermediate host.
It even gets worse because they can be transmitted from one cat to another. Then, what is the primary point of contact? Roundworms are found in the feces of an infected cat. Hence, when another cat nibbles at the wastes containing eggs of roundworms, alas! The deed is done; he already has the roundworm parasite in him.
Most often than not, you tend to find heartworms in dogs. However, cats are increasingly contracting heartworm parasites. They are the leading cause of lung and heart blockages.
Mosquitoes transmit heartworms a lot. The eggs of heartworms mature and travel straight to the heart and lungs of cats. Symptoms of heartworms in cats include coughing, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and weight loss.
Also, an intestinal parasite, hookworms, is found attaching themselves to the intestines of cats through their hooks. This way, they suck on your cat’s blood, thereby causing stunted growth, anemia, and skin irritation. To make matters worse, hookworms can live as long as your cat.
If not quickly expelled, they may continually cause damage and illness in your cat. Cats may contact them through their skin (this is because hookworms can also burrow through a cat’s skin) or their mouths.
Other parasites include whipworms and stomach worms, which may be contracted by ingesting the vomit of another cat containing stomach worms.
Getting Rid of these Parasites
If you let your cat dash outdoors, you might have to restrict the extent he goes, making sure it is safe and free of fleas, dead animals, and dead birds.
It is advisable also to deworm your cats periodically to expel the worms that may live in them. Frequent visits to the vet’s clinic would help get this done.
Also, try as much as possible to keep your environment free from all forms of rodents and mosquitoes.
Diseases may be a viable reason why your cat throws up. They may range from inflammatory bowel diseases to metabolic and kidney diseases.
▪ Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
This kind of disease in cats is caused by an automatic reaction of the bowel to severe irritation. This is much more of a syndrome rather than a disease. What usually happens with this disease is that the cat’s gastrointestinal tract walls thicken, thereby making it impossible or difficult for nutrient or food absorption. Causes of the IBD may include parasitic infections, allergies, or bacterial infections.
Signs of inflammatory bowel disease include severe vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. A visit to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment is a result of strongly advised.
▪ Metabolic Diseases
Metabolic diseases are quite familiar occurrences in cats. Diabetes mellitus is the inability to balance the level of sugar, glucose, or insulin in the blood. It may lead to chronic vomiting in cats, depression, coma, loss of appetite, weight loss, or death. Increased urination or increased thirst may be a possible presence of diabetes in your cat. In other cases, he may develop a considerable appetite just because his body is not using up the energy in his food.
Insulin therapies and oral medication may be the way out of this situation. Visit the cat’s vet for proper consultation.
▪ Kidney Diseases
Just like human beings, it is possible for cats also to be diagnosed with kidney diseases. Amongst the symptoms of kidney disease in cats are: drinking lots of water, frequent urination, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in urine, bacterial infections, bad breath, dull coats, mouth ulcers, weakness and inactivity, weight loss.
Usually, they must go through urine tests, ultrasounds, and x-rays to get a proper diagnosis. Medication, diet control, and regular clinic visits may go a long way in treating the disease. If kidney blockage is the cause, surgery may be the best option to save your cat’s life.
CAT HEALTH CHECKLIST
As cat parents, make it a decision to prioritize quality living for your cats. It comes with paying attention to every little detail about your kitty. Watch out for signs and purrs, which are not just normal. Create a friendly environment for your cat. We know how challenging it might be, especially if you keep a multi-cat home. While there are perks of excitement, the not-so-good times also come when your feline pets become ill. So, when should you be worried?
- When your cat is pale or has colored gums. Also, an indication of cancer.
- When your cat vomits, it might be because of underlying medical conditions or diseases.
- Blood in your cat’s vomit
- Diarrhea coupled with severe vomiting.
- Dullness in a normally active cat
- Making choking noises while eating.
- Losing weight rapidly or no desire to eat.
Vomiting may occur occasionally, but not every bout of puking should be ignored.
Here’s a quick checklist of what you should be doing for peace of mind:
✔ Maintain proper hygiene for your cats, cleaning, brushing, and combing fur to prevent hairball
✔ Regular visits to the vet clinic
✔ Make eating fun
✔ If you notice that, your cat gobbles up her food almost at once, space her feeding bowls, dish out food in small quantity, etc.
✔ Keep away every toxic content, such as rat poison, house paint, and so on, from the reach of cats.
✔ Keep houseplants out of reach. Some are quite deadly!
✔ Regular deworming should be done for your feline pets periodically.
✔ Be sensitive to cat diets, looking out for ingredients that cause food allergies. It may be an indication that you need to change your kitty’s diet.
✔ Get rid of parasites, parasite hosts such as fleas and rodents, dispose of dead animals promptly, use catnips with mild fragrances.
While vomiting should be carefully observed for other symptoms in your cat, it is not necessarily a precondition for chronic illnesses or diseases.
Therefore, it has been spelled out that the diagnosis in all cases must come from the vet’s desk and the examination of your cat. Whatever the case may be, stay calm, gather the facts, and take action. With proper care, whether diet changes, feeding opportunities, or the like, you can have your cat 100% in no time.
Jonathon is an entrepreneur and cat-lover. He is married to Joy and they share their home with their 2 feline-friends, Franklin & Ollie. Jonathon is a self-admitted “Crazy Cat Guy”