My Cat Ate Too Fast And Vomited: Why & What To Do

Key takeaway

Eating too fast may cause vomiting in cats in the form of regurgitation or because their stomachs expand too quickly, causing GI distress. There are many reasons why a cat may eat too quickly, ranging from nutritional inadequacies and boredom to more severe underlying health conditions.

Cats may eat too fast for various reasons, ranging from an inadequate diet to boredom and underlying illnesses. Unfortunately, when your cat eats too much, they may vomit because the food can’t be properly digested. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent your cat from eating too fast, including getting any underlying illnesses treated, preventing boredom, and using a slow feeder bowl for cat food. 

When your cat eats too much and vomits, they’re not actually vomiting. Instead, they’re regurgitating the food they just ate, which brings the food and fluid back up through their mouths. As a result, when your cat regurgitates after eating, the food may be fully formed or appear soggy. In this article, we’ll discuss why your cat might be eating so quickly, why they throw up after eating, and what to do about it. 

Why Is My Cat Eating So Fast?

There are many reasons why your cat eats too fast, ranging from mild behavioral issues and boredom to serious health issues. Of course, as a pet parent, you should always be aware of any behavioral changes in your cat. If they suddenly start eating faster than usual, consult a vet for guidance. Here are a few reasons your cat eats so fast. 

Reasons why cats eat too fast

Your Cat Has An Insufficient Diet

Cats that aren’t being fed a balanced diet may eat quickly because they’re hungry due to a lack of nutrients. Cats should be fed specific amounts of food based on their age and weight. You should also feed your cat based on their life stage, as kittens, adults, and senior cats all need a different balance of nutrients. For example, kittens need more calories than senior cats because they’re growing and more active. 

Diets that contain too many carbohydrates, additives, and byproducts may not provide your cat with the nutrients they need, so avoid feeding them a low-quality diet that might make their body crave more food to get the right amount of nutrients. 

Your cat may also eat fast when they’re not getting enough food. If your cat is skinny, consider talking to a vet about their portion sizes to help them gain weight. Of course, overweight cats should not increase their caloric intake, so if you have an obese cat or your cat is gaining weight, it could indicate a more serious health issue. 

Your Cat Is Bored

Humans eat when they’re bored and so do cats. Eating provides them with the mental stimulation they crave. Cats that are bored may eat quickly because they’re feeling lonely, depressed, or even anxious. However, if your cat eats too fast and vomits, or they’re eating too much of their food, they can gain weight and become obese, which can lead to depression.1  Signs your cat is bored include repetitive behaviors, aggression, lethargy and disinterest, and over-eating.1

Your Cat Is Territorial

Territorial cats may eat quickly to prevent any other cats in the household from eating their food. This is mostly seen in multi-cat households, where cats feel the need to assert dominance in the form of eating as much as possible or hoarding their food.2 Territorial cats can become aggressive towards other pets or engage in destructive behaviors like marking their scent on furniture, so it’s not a problem that should be ignored.2

Your Cat Has Past Trauma 

Cats that come from an abusive or neglectful situation may eat fast due to their underlying anxiety. Some cats may have lived in homes where they didn’t know when they’d get their next meal, so they learned to eat quickly to prevent missing their opportunity for food. The same is true for outdoor cats; since outdoor cats must hunt to survive, they never know when they’re going to have their next meal, which may make them eat faster. 

Kitty trauma may also induce anxiety or stress, another factor that contributes to them eating quickly. Since food is mentally stimulating, it can be a distraction from something causing fear. Therefore, if your cat is eating too fast, they may also be trying to self-soothe their anxiety. 

Your Cat Has An Underlying Disease Or Ailment

Diseases and ailments that can cause cats to eat too fast

Some illnesses can cause your cat to eat faster. For example, hyperthyroidism causes weight loss with an increased appetite.3 Meanwhile, diabetes may cause increased hunger.  When the food they eat isn’t properly utilized by their body, cats will crave more nutrients. 

Eating too quickly is also a possible sign of gastrointestinal parasites in cats, which has a prevalence rate of up to 45% in some populations.4  Parasites like roundworms and tapeworms may make your cat eat faster because they are robbing your cat of their essential nutrients.

Your Cat Likes Eating A Little Too Much

All animals love eating, but your cat might like eating a little too much if they’re eating too quickly, rubbing up against your leg during mealtimes, and meowing and chirping whenever you have food out. Cats can develop food obsession and addiction, causing them to engage in strange or even aggressive behaviors to get more food from their pet parents. Cats with food addiction may be vocal during mealtimes as a way to beg for food. They may also become impatient, which causes them to eat quickly and rub up against you to hasten the feeding process. Additionally, they may even beg for your food when you’re eating a meal. 

What Happens When My Cat Eats Too Fast And Vomits?

If your cat ate too fast and vomited, it’s likely regurgitation, which occurs when the contents from the esophagus are ejected. Unlike actual vomiting, the food never actually makes it to the stomach during regurgitation, so the vomit will consist of undigested food and fluid or even mucus. You may also notice that the undigested food your cat expels is in a tubular shape due to the compression of their esophagus. 

Cats that eat too much can also vomit after eating because their stomachs can only hold so much food. Therefore, it’s always best to feed them smaller portions throughout the day rather than having them eat their entire daily calories in one sitting.

Another common reason why your cat throws up after eating is because of their food. They could have a difficult time digesting food, or they may have a bad reaction to the different ingredients in the food. Ingredients like additives and preservatives can cause GI issues in cats, causing them to vomit after eating. Of course, there are many other reasons why your cat is vomiting, so it’s important to monitor their behavior and health. 

What Can I Do To Stop My Cat From Eating Too Fast?

Ways to stop your cat from eating too fast

Before you can start trying to prevent your cat from eating too fast, you should have them examined by a vet to ensure they’re not experiencing any symptoms of an underlying disease. Because some diseases can cause cats to vomit, overeat, and eat too fast, you must rule them out before you can begin taking your cat’s behavior into your own hands. Once your vet has given your cat a clean bill of health, try these things to stop your cat from eating too fast:

Provide Stimulation And Increase Playtime

Mental and physical stimulation can prevent your cat from getting bored, anxious, and depressed, which might cause them to eat faster. Instead of letting them use food and eating for mental stimulation, give them toys to play with and spend time playing with them to get them more physical exercise. 

Feed Your Cat Nutritional Cat Food

Not all cat foods are created equal. Low-quality cat foods, whether it’s canned wet food or kibble, don’t give your cat the nutrients they need, which can cause them to overeat or eat quickly as their body’s way to try to get more nutrients. Cats need a diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs, but they also require adequate amounts of fat, vitamins, and minerals. When looking for cat food, only purchase those that have the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement of nutritional adequacy. This label indicates that the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for cats.5 Your cat’s nutritional needs change throughout their life, so always give your cat food developed for their life stage. 

Feed Your Cats Separately 

Since cats can be territorial, whether they play with their cat siblings or not, it’s usually best to feed your cats separately in different rooms to decrease conflict and monitor them individually. You can use microchip feeders that only open and feed a cat based on a scan of their microchip. This will prevent another cat from entering the room and stealing their food. 

Use A Slow Feed Cat Bowl Or Lick Mat

Using a slow feed cat bowl or lick mat can prevent your cat from being able to eat too quickly. Since they have built-in grooves that require your cat to solve a puzzle while they eat, they ultimately slow down the time it takes for them to eat a complete meal. Slow feeders and lick mats combat fast eating, vomiting related to overeating, indigestion, and bloating. They also give your cat a healthy amount of mental stimulation and the act of licking can also calm anxious cats. They are a great option for any cat who eats too quickly, no matter the reason. 

Use An Automatic Feeder

Automatic feeders make it easy for you to feed your cat the proper amount, allowing you to monitor their food intake. You can set the times and amount of food to give your cat at each feeding, allowing you to dispense small meals and prevent them from eating too quickly and overeating. Automatic feeders also prevent your cat from eating because they’re bored since they won’t have access to food until the scheduled time. 

My Cat Ate Too Fast And Vomited: FAQs

Should I feed my cat again after vomiting?

Depending on the reason why your cat vomited, you should avoid giving them food for about 12 hours. Of course, if your cat continues to vomit more than once after eating, consider taking them to the vet for guidance. While it’s possible your cat vomited because they ate too quickly, they could have an underlying health issue that’s causing them to vomit. Always provide your cat access to clean drinking water to help them rehydrate after throwing up. 

What to feed my cat after vomiting?

Once your cat has stopped vomiting and is ready to eat again, you can feed them a bland food diet. Your vet can give you a prescription for a bland diet, or you can feed your cat plain white rice and chicken or turkey to help settle their stomachs. Depending on the reason your cat vomited, you may be able to give them their regular cat food again, but give them a small portion because their stomachs may be irritated. 

When should I worry about my cat vomiting?

If your cat vomits once and isn’t displaying any other signs of illness, continue to monitor them over the next several days. However, if your cat repeatedly vomits in just a few hours or they experience signs of illness, take them to the vet immediately. 

Cat licking lips and looking up at camera while eating from bowl

Final Notes

Sometimes cats eat too fast and make themselves sick. However, it’s important to consider why your cat is eating fast since it could indicate an underlying illness. If you notice your cat is eating too fast and vomiting regularly, reasons could range from mild GI upset from eating too quickly to underlying diseases that cause your cat to eat more than they should. Treatment for your cat will depend on the cause. 

Talking to a Dutch vet can help you uncover why your cat is eating too fast and throwing up, ranging from stress and anxiety to underlying health problems like diabetes. Once diagnosed, your vet can form a treatment plan to help your cat stop eating too fast and vomiting to ensure your cat lives a healthier life.

References

  1. Buchmelter, Tania. “Tania Buchmelter.” Danbury Animal Welfare Society, Tania Buchmelter Https://Daws.org/Wp-Content/Uploads/2019/10/Logo-1.Png, 12 Jan. 2021, https://daws.org/signs-of-boredom-in-your-cat/.

  2. “Multi-Cat Households.” International Cat Care, 6 Mar. 2019, https://icatcare.org/advice/multi-cat-households/.

  3. “Hyperthyroidism in Cats.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 23 July 2018, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/hyperthyroidism-cats.

  4. “Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 21 Nov. 2019, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/gastrointestinal-parasites-cats.

  5. “Cat Nutrition: What Makes a Nutritional Cat Food?” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/nutrition/cat-nutrition-what-makes-nutritional-cat-food.