Our pets are members of our family, and just as when a loved one is sick a cat throwing up can cause pet parents anxiety. Rest assured, this is a common occurrence in cats and many of the reasons for this are perfectly natural and will pass without 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 in times when throwing up has occurred. Educate yourself in advance which will ensure that in times of stress, and a cat that has thrown up you will be prepared to act in your pet’s best interest.
Here is that knowledge in a concise list to help arm you with the best information possible. Symptoms, causes and what to look for are all compiled.
Common Causes of Cat Vomit
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 is the most common in felines, and part of the natural cycle with no additional vet interventions needed 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 is 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 symptoms of hairballs, 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 hair ball, this can be a symptom of something more critical like asthma or other health concerns. Additionally, symptoms of hairballs 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 in order to alleviate the symptoms.
Can I Prevent My Cat from Having Hairballs?
It is nearly impossible to eliminate your cat having hairballs. However, there are some ways to reduce this:
✔ Help your cats with grooming by brushing them
Regular and efficient grooming of your cat would reduce the frequency with which your cat’s tongue latches on to lose dead hair throughout their body. Groom your cat by combing or brushing his fur with some soft brushing daily. You may also trim his fur, especially in breeds that are prone to longer hairs or excessive shedding. This can be a huge undertaking, and if not able to be done by your own hand regularly at the very least, keep a frequent schedule with a pet groomer.
✔ Provide your cat with alternatives
It is quite normal to find your cat licking his fur every now and again. The frequency with which they do amounts to increases in hairball bouts. Providing an alternative to your cat for these activities may be the easiest way to help reduce hairballs. So how to do this? Simply allow them to keep busy with other things. Since cats are playful, you may give him a new toy to play with, just about anything creative, colorful or noisy to hold their attention will work. Try catnip toys, ropes and trees to keep them entertained and not licking their fur even for small amounts of time.
✔ Have you tried some hairball cat food yet?
It is part of the biological urges of cats to shed their coats. However, some special cat foods help to minimize the rate at which they drop them. In addition to this, you could get cat foods that help to maintain the quality of their fur, keeping them neat and all. Usually, these foods are rich in fiber and help get rid of hairballs in the gastrointestinal tract of cats.
✔ Kitten Care Products
Tons of hairball products are available on the market today. Thanks to the manufacturers who have hairballs as a specialty, they produce various kinds of products to reduce hairball and making its elimination less of a problem. Laxatives, for example, help your cats pass hairballs harmlessly and quickly. Specialized gels and oils also lubricate cat stool, bowels, and even expel a hairball. As always it is imperative to follow instructions and inform your vet of any over the counter items you may employ to ensure the right dosage is used for your cat.
⮚ 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. So 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.
How do I slow my cats down?
✔ Slow cat feeder bowls
Thankfully, manufacturer’s have an answer for fast cat eaters and produce aids in curbing this behavior through a variety of slow cat feeder bowls. These are quite exciting feeder bowls since your cat has to go through a kind of maze before getting her food. In a way, this is a perfect option because it allows your cat a bit of exercise while getting her food, while it also regulates the eating rate.
✔ Toys containing cat treats
Create an equally exciting atmosphere for your cat with treats. Most of these toys help to stimulate the intelligence of cats. This way, they have to bat the toys here and there before they can access the treats the toys contain. In a way, you are also teaching your cat to put in some effort to win a treat.
✔ Installing a Sureflap microchip cat flap
Cat’s natural instincts may include both hunting and survival instincts. They have the urge to protect their food, especially when they know that intruders could show up anytime to share their meal. In a bid to have it all to themselves, they try to gobble up their food as fast as they can. Installing a Sureflap microchip cat flap helps them control their eating speed. This allows pet owners to dictate when and how many cats are allowed in a space at a given time. Through remote control you can help direct feeding traffic, and in turn your cat’s healthier eating habits.
✔ Spacing portions of food
Trying to space out portions of food for your cat may help to slow them down a bit. You may simply place just the right amount of food for a lot of different cat feeders, and then place them at intervals around a given space. This way, your cat has to move from one bowl to another at mealtime.
✔ Try the obstruction tactic.
You may be forced to place an obstruction in your kitty’s feeding bowl if you notice that she still gobbles down food excessively fast. This way, she would have to maneuver her way around the obstruction to get to her food.
✔ Keeping food at hideouts
Bring out the spirit of adventure in your cat by hiding her food. More than anything, cats look to search things out. It is even more encouraging to them when they know that it is food. So, why not indulge her by sharpening her hunting instincts, while also saving yourself from the stress of cleaning vomits caused by fast eating.
✔ Some water might do the trick.
Bulking out kitty food with water may help her feel fuller faster, thereby reducing the rate at which he gulps food down. So indeed, water might do the trick.
⮚ FOOD ALLERGIES
If fast feeding and grooming aren’t the culprit 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 over and over, 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 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 to break down and digest foods in their bowels. Such enzymes include protease, amylase, and lipase. Insufficiency of these may lead to pancreatitis, whereby they are unable to absorb nutrients, and their foods also do not digest. Hence, they have constipation and throw it all up.
What are the possible symptoms of insufficient digestive enzymes in my cat?
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.
Here, 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, which is included in the food. This way, your cat can still digest foods and have a quality life span.
⮚ Foreign Indigestible
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 any 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 at 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.
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.
What to do when you find out that your cat may be poisoned
Getting to know the source of any problem provides a clear indicator of its treatment. In the first place, you have to eliminate the source of poison and quarantine your cat. Sometimes, your cat may absorb the toxin by inhalation or absorption through her paws or skin. In this case, you really have to do a cleanup, and also prevent her from grooming herself. She has to be kept from licking her fur and reduce the possibility of swallowing poisoned fur.
When poisoning is from plants, isolate your cats from grass and all forms of plants. You may also make use of warm, soapy water. Everyday household materials such as bleach, detergents, paints, lotions, dyes, drugs that humans use, antiperspirants, and disinfectants could be the source of poisons.
Ultimately, a straight trip to the vet is the smartest thing to do. Vets always know what to do.
Safety Precautions to Consider
✔ Keep away all forms of human drugs, be it tablets or syrup, from the reach of cats. They are actually not for them, and this may cause instant sickness or even death.
✔ Keep away all forms of dangerous household items such as wall paints, varnishes, nail polish, body cream, perfumes (since they may also get irritated via inhalation), detergents, bleach, Dettol, and all such from cats. They include chemicals and are ordinarily poisonous to ingest.
✔ Ensure that your cats are not within the range of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and the likes. Before you spray a room, check every nook and cranny to make sure your cute little cat is not balled up in sleep somewhere.
✔ In case you have any spillage of harmful products or even regular household products as highlighted above, please clean up immediately. Never postpone a cleanup.
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. It is quite impossible for your cat to 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.
So, 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 outdoor, they may actually 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 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 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 are 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 actually 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 him. 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. Additionally, avoid cat diets that include raw meats, and if you have to give your cats homemade foods, always cook them well.
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 walls of a cat’s gastrointestinal tract thicken, thereby making it impossible or difficult for nutrient or food absorption. Causes of the IBD may include parasitic infections, allergies, or bacterial infection.
Signs of inflammatory bowel disease include severe vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. A visit to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment is as a result of this 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, and 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 have to go through urine tests, ultrasounds, and x-rays to get a proper diagnosis done. Medication, diet control, and regular clinic visits may go a long way in treating the disease. If kidney blockage is found to be the cause, surgery may be the best option to save your cat’s life.
TYPES OF CAT VOMIT
1. When your cat is throwing up foam
There is more than one chance that hairballs in your cat may result in foamy vomit. However, this is not the only reason. Take a look at the following:
▪ Stomach inflammation
Sure, you cannot get tired of hearing about inflammation in cats. They are quite susceptible to inflammation in various parts of the intestinal tract, specifically the stomach. This condition may as well be called gastritis. This is a situation whereby the lining of a cat’s intestines is hurt. How then do you know for sure that your cat has caught on some gastritis?
Cats throwing up foam, bile, sluggishness, cats throwing up blood, constipation, and dehydration are all signs of gastritis. Paying attention to your cute little creature is very important so that you can notice all the symptoms you would need to explain to the vet, thereby aiding proper treatment.
▪ Meal Expectation
Cats are sensitive creatures, quite all right. Sometimes, when they sense that it is nearing their mealtime, some digestive juices are automatically produced in their stomachs. These may range from bile to hydrochloric acid and gastric juices that help the process of food digestion. So, in cases where the stomach gets disappointed with no appearance of food, the cat’s body automatically reacts by throwing the juices all out.
▪ New Mealtime
As a cat parent, when you change your cat’s mealtime, your cat may vomit foamy substances, which may either be white or yellow. To help her adjust quite well, you make her give her something to snack on while waiting for when food is served; at least, her tummy won’t be as disappointed as a ‘no food’ situation.
2. When your Cat Throws up Brown Liquid
The fact that your cat is vomiting brown liquid may be a sign that she has inflammation in her mouth, or that she has ingested something foreign such as a hairball. Sometimes, she, showing that something is possibly wrong with her liver, may throw up bile produced in the cat’s liver. If she then does not throw up a brown-colored liquid, it may be yellow, the color of bile.
Undigested food may also take the shade of brown. Indeed, most cat foods are brown. While this may not be a cause for alarm, precautions must be taken, most notably when it happens quite frequently or in close succession.
Other symptoms that may pop up include a lack of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss. Take no chances; whisk them off to the vet to check her internal organs, especially her kidneys and liver, under an x-ray.
Oral medication is usually given to check this case, except where the vet sees an intestinal blockage and may consider surgery as the proper solution.
3. When your Cat Vomits Clear Liquid
Several reasons may result in a cat throwing up clear liquid, but then to what extent should you worry? Most of the time, changing feeding schedules for cats may mess up with their tummies. Having previously explained that there are digestive juices, a cat produces in expectation of food, and getting no food means there is nothing to digest. Therefore, the tummy automatically contracts and expels the juices.
In addition to this, when your kitty gobbles up too much food at once, the next thing you might notice is a clear liquid on your floor. Look again at the ways you can prevent this, as discussed above. Gastritis, indigestion, ingesting toxins, parasites, metabolic disorders, and skipping meals may also be factors, while diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy, lack of appetite are resulting symptoms.
As usual, a good vet can never be wrong. He will help palpate kitty’s abdomen, check her delicate organs under an x-ray for any fluid in the stomach that could potentially be signals of blockages or other concerns. He is also in the right position to prescribe the appropriate treatment.
4. When your Cat Vomits Blood
When your cat has ingested blood, it is just about expected for it to throw up. Now, are you supposed to be automatically scared? To answer this question, let us look at some of the reasons resulting in blood vomits.
▪ Blood clotting Problems
Cats may have a blood disorder when they experience conditions where their blood does not clot properly. Symptoms may include bruising, weakness, lethargy, pale mucous membranes, bleeding from the gums, rectum, or nose, swelling in the abdomen, difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite, and excessive bleeding. Usually, when there is a wound, it should ordinarily not take so long to heal. However, cats that suffer from hemophilia cannot heal their wounds.
Is it possible for your feline friends to inherit blot clotting problems as hemophilia? Yes, it is possible. On the other hand, if there is no family history of hemophilia with the cat, she can also acquire it as she grows. This is usually caused when there is a deficiency in vitamin K.
Treating cats with hemophilia may include one or more of the following:
✔ Vitamin K injection
✔ A blood transfusion may be necessary.
✔ Maintenance of good health hygiene for your cats. Make sure their oral hygiene is excellent.
✔ Urinalysis, blood counts, clotting time tests
▪ Foreign objects
It is not uncommon to find strings and other foreign material ingested by your cat. These may cause blockages, be it total or partial. Sometimes, those foreign materials perforate the intestine or other delicate organs. Then, your cat needs help urgently.
Depending on the kind of foreign object swallowed, your kitty’s vet determines what kind of procedure to undertake. However, diagnosis usually commences with blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, palpitations, and in severe cases, surgery.
▪ Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease
This kind of disease is associated with dogs, but cats are also increasingly contracting the Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, loss of appetite, weight loss, and of course, vomiting blood.
Usually, diagnosis conducted by vets on cats is either through the antigen test or through the antibody test to reveal the presence of mature worms or their eggs, respectively.
It is highly advisable to take your cat to the vet’s clinic for regular preventive check ups since the cure for Heartworm Associated Respiratory Diseases in cats has not been discovered.
▪ Ingestion of Poison
The moment your cat starts throwing up blood, the possibilities that she has ingested some poison is high. Usually, rodent poisons are the culprit since they contain toxins. When this occurs, the feline is highly susceptible to a condition known as hematemesis (the presence of blood in vomit). This may or may not be accompanied by lethargy, lack of appetite, difficulty in breathing, and excessive bleeding.
You may actually think that you do all your best to keep rat poison away from your cat. Still, it would interest you to know that while you may be cautious, your cat may be exposed to rat poison through other means. One of the surest ways is to feed on a dead rat, killed by rat poison, of course. Rat poisons are potent, and their potency may outlast the rat. As a result of this, when kitty feeds on a dead rat, she automatically ingests poison too, thereby causing hematemesis.
So, what do you do to prevent this? Simply pay attention to your environment, since you also share it with your cat. Remove every dead rat as promptly as possible and keep everything toxic away from the reach of those little paws and mouths.
Sores are most often the cause of ulcers in cats, resulting in pale gums, dark stools, cat vomit, and diarrhea with bloody content. A trip to see the vet is the most reassuring means to get help for your kitty.
SO, WHAT NEXT?
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
- 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
Vomiting may occur once in a while, but not every bout of puking should be ignored. Let’s do a quick checklist of what you should be doing…
✔ 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.
✔ Understand what each type of vomit means. This may determine if you should really be scared.
✔ Understand your cat and her specialty.
✔ Keep away every toxic content such as rat poison, house paint, and so on, from the reach of cats.
✔ 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.
Having played out every possible scenario that can happen, you can reasonably predict what is wrong before going to the vet office. While vomiting should be carefully observed for other symptoms in your cat, it is not necessarily a precondition for chronic illnesses or diseases. This is why it has been clearly 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, feedings opportunities or the like you can have your cat 100% in no time.