cat laying on bed in blanket

Key takeaway

It's normal for cats to vomit every once in a while, but if your cat is vomiting frequently or excessively, this could be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires veterinary attention. Sometimes undigested food or fur balls can make your cat vomit, but there are other, more serious reasons your cat may be throwing up.

My Cat Keeps Throwing Up: What Should I Do?

While it's natural for cats to vomit or cough up hairballs on occasion, excessive and frequent vomiting is not healthy and could be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition. In most cases your cat’s urge to vomit is simply caused by an upset stomach, but in others, you might need to seek immediate veterinary attention.

Your cat’s stomach upset could be caused by something they ate, a toxin they ingested, or a virus or parasite. In rare but more serious cases, persistent stomach aches might be a sign of cancer or certain organ conditions. In this article, we’ll cover the common causes of persistent vomiting in cats and describe potential treatment options.

Reasons Your Cat May Be Throwing Up

There are a number of normal situations in which your cat might vomit, including the release of an undigested furball. Cats naturally self-groom and will in turn ingest fur, which their bodies digest in most cases. However, in some cases, your cat might not be able to completely digest a hairball, causing regurgitation.

it’s common for cats to regurgitate fur balls

Your cat may also have vomited if they ate too much food, too quickly. If your cat is eating too quickly, it's important to encourage them to slow down so that they don't develop digestive issues or become dehydrated from vomiting. Excessive vomiting can also lead to issues in your cat's esophagus because of the caustic stomach acids.

Here are some other common reasons your cat could be vomiting:

  • Parasites
  • Dietary sensitivity
  • Constipation
  • Ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Toxin Ingestion
  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Cancer

Because this is not a complete list of possible causes for a vomiting cat, it’s critical to consult with your vet to help determine why your cat keeps throwing up.

If your cat is suffering from bouts of vomiting, avoid giving them food for around 12 hours and provide them with water ; gradually introduce bland food when the vomiting has stopped. If your cat is still vomiting after you've stopped feeding them, it's important to seek veterinary care immediately since this might be because of certain serious health conditions such as hyperthyroidism in cats.

Stress or anxiety might also cause your cat to vomit, so if your restless cat is vomiting unexpectedly you might think about any recent changes to their routine that might be stressing them out. In rare cases, vomiting can be a sign of a cat panic attack.

Symptoms of cat PTSD may also include vomiting if your cat is nervous or presented with a similar stimulus to that which caused the trauma.

Cat Vomit: What to Look for if Your Cat Keeps Throwing Up

The appearance of your cat’s vomit may hold clues to their illness or irritation. Do you spot any of the following in your cat’s vomit?

  • Yellow hue/bile - It's not uncommon for cats who are vomiting to expel bile when they have an empty stomach. If your cat has been vomiting often, and you stop feeding them in an attempt to ease their symptoms, this bile may be more pronounced. 
  • Blood - If you see blood in your cat's vomit, this is a sign of a serious irritation and might mean that your cat's stomach lining and esophagus are being burned by increased stomach acid while your cat vomits, which can lead to ulcerations.
 If you notice blood in your cat’s vomit, contact your veterinarian immediately
  • Foam - White foam typically comes from vomiting up water. Some cats can also white foam around their mouth after tasting something caustic or bitter. A foaming mouth can also be a symptom of other health conditions.
  • Intestinal Parasites - Intestinal parasites are some of the most common cat parasites, and an infestation might cause your cat to vomit roundworms. This is why it's important to inspect your cat's fecal matter and vomit if you suspect they're ill. This information could be helpful for your vet when they are diagnosing and providing a treatment plan.
  • Undigested food / hairballs - If your cat eats too much too fast, is unable to digest what they ate, or develops a hairball, they may vomit. In most cases this will resolve on its own, but sometimes hairballs and food can cause blockages in the intestine, which can lead to death.
  • Brown hue - If you notice any brown liquid or a brown hue in your cat's vomit this could be a sign of digested blood in their GI tract.
  • Green hue - Green-colored vomit can also indicate the presence of bile. When food and bile mixes together in your cat's digestive system, sometimes it creates a green color.

Regardless of color, if your cat is continuously vomiting, it’s important to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible before symptoms worsen.

When to Call Your Vet If Your Cat is Throwing Up

While all cats may vomit occasionally from stomach upset, there are certain signs that you should seek counsel from your vet:

  • Persistent vomiting
    • (more than 3 times)
seek veterinary assistance if your cat is experiencing persistent vomiting (3x or more)Your cat has other symptoms of illness
  • Your cat has a pre-diagnosed illness
  • You spot worms in your cat’s vomit
  • Your cat won’t eat or drink for more than 12 hours
Vet examining cat while owner holds him on table

My Cat Keeps Throwing Up: Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I be concerned about my cat throwing up?

It's normal for cats to throw up on occasion due to stomach upset, hairballs, or overzealous eating, but if your cat is experiencing repeated instances of vomiting, you should contact your vet immediately. This could be a sign of a severe illness.

  • What can I give my cat if he keeps throwing up?

It's best not to feed your cat any more food if they're throwing up repeatedly. You can provide them with fresh water  to help them stay hydrated since they will lose fluids while throwing up. As their symptoms lessen you can slowly introduce bland food to see if they're interested. Ask your veterinarian for guidance before attempting any home remedies for cat vomiting.

  • What does hairball vomit look like?

Sometimes cats will vomit when they are trying to cough up a furball. This usually looks like a strange tube-shaped ball of fur. Sometimes furballs can cause blockages in the intestines, although generally, cats are able to cough up these hair obstructions on their own before they become a blockage.

  • Do cats get stomach bugs?

Yes. Gastroenteritis in cats can cause symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea as well as tenderness or sensitivity around their abdomen area. If your cat is vomiting often, try softly comforting them and putting them in different areas on their body to see if they are sensitive to touch. This might be a sign that will help your vet diagnose your pet's condition.

Final Notes

We never want to see our pets in distress or struggling to get relief from bouts of vomiting. It's normal for cats to vomit every once in a while, but if your cat is vomiting frequently, it could be the result of a serious health condition which requires immediate veterinary attention. Check your cat's vomit for signs of blood and note the color of the vomit because this information can help your veterinarian provide the right diagnosis and treatment plan.

To prevent your cat from getting into anything that might make their stomach upset and cause them to throw up, make sure that any human medications, or other toxic chemicals and materials are unavailable. Pay attention to any changes in your cat's environment or dietary adjustments that might impact your cat's stomach issues.

 If you'd like support while your cat is feeling sick or you're looking for an efficient way to get your vomiting cat the right medical attention and care, Dutch is here 24 hours a day 7 days a week to help you find a customized treatment plan for your cat.