Cat Tips

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up? 

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up? Types of Vomiting, Causes, and What to Do 

As a cat owner, you know that sometimes cats are going to vomit. We’ve all heard that alarming sound before. It happens from time to time, but it’s never normal. It always means something is wrong. However, the seriousness of the issue will depend on why the cat is vomiting in the first place. Below, we’ll learn more about these types of issues and the things cat owners can do to help their feline friends. 

Sometimes it’s not too much to worry about. Other times, it could be an indicator of an illness. It’s important that owners don’t overlook these issues and find out why their cat is throwing up. 

Are Hairballs the Same Thing? 

Cats get hairballs from time to time. They groom themselves a lot, so it makes sense that they will have hairballs. However, it’s important to understand that there is a difference between vomiting and having a hairball from time to time. When they lick themselves, their tongues pull out a lot of loose fur, which will be swallowed. This will gather in the stomach and because it doesn’t go through the digestive system, it leads to a hairball, which the cat will then vomit. 

Most of the time, this isn’t going to be a major problem. Hairballs tend to happen infrequently. However, if you notice that your cat is vomiting often due to hairballs (or any reason), it is always a good idea to speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Most Common Reasons Your Cat Vomits 

What is causing your cat to vomit? Just like humans, there are countless reasons that your cat might need to vomit. Some, as you will see, are more serious than others are and will need immediate attention. 

Upset Stomach 

Gastroenteritis, which is merely a fancy way of saying upset stomach, is another of the common reasons that a cat might vomit. There are, of course, many different types of issues that could create stomach upset in the cats. In some cases, it could be from switching to a new food or eating something they shouldn’t. Other times, it could be due to medications they are taking or toxins they were exposed to and may have ingested. 

A lot of the time, these sorts of issues will go away on their own after a short time. The cat might only vomit once or twice and then be back to normal. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the upset stomach is more serious, and the cat will need to go to the vet. It’s always important to pay attention to how your cat is behaving. 


Cats will sometimes try to eat things they shouldn’t, and those items could get caught in their digestive system. This could be anything from part of a toy, plastic pieces from a loaf of bread, string, etc. Many different types of items could end up causing a blockage of the GI tract, which could lead to vomiting. There could also be other sorts of physical damage to your cat. 


Parasites tend to be more of a problem when it comes to kittens, but they can cause older cats to vomit, as well. Although it might not be pleasant, you can often tell if the problem is parasites because you could see worms in the vomit. Treating the parasites can typically stop the vomiting from continuing. 

Food Allergies 

Most cats won’t have allergies to food, but it can happen. When they eat a food that causes an allergic reaction, it can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. This could in turn lead to vomiting. Sometimes cats who have food allergies or who have inflammatory bowel disease will have chronic diarrhea in addition to or instead of vomiting. 

If you have a cat with allergies, you will want to make sure that you properly monitor what they are eating to reduce the risk of vomiting. 

Systemic Illnesses 

Sometimes cats suffer from illnesses that could cause them to suffer nausea and chronic vomiting. Some of these types of illnesses can include pancreatitis, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism. 

Neurologic diseases can cause these issues, as well. Some of these include encephalitis and vestibular disease. 

It’s important to note that handling the vomiting in these cases will require that the illness is properly diagnosed and handled. It can sometimes require long-term management. 


Cancer is another disease that can cause vomiting. In cats, digestive tract cancers occur relatively commonly; this makes normal digestion difficult. It becomes hard to digest properly and vomiting can occur, which could lead to weight loss and other issues. It’s important to note that other types of cancer can cause feelings of nausea and discomfort that might also lead to vomiting. 

How Can You Determine the Cause? 

It can be difficult to diagnose what caused your cat to vomit, and you might not be entirely certain. Your vet will likely have a few questions for you when you speak to them to help narrow down the potential causes. 

They will want to know when the vomiting started, how often it occurs, and whether there have been any changes in the cat’s medication, diet, or normal routine. They will want to know if there are other symptoms, whether there has been weight loss, etc. Having answers to those and similar questions can make it easier for the vet to diagnose the cause of your cat’s vomiting. 

When Should You Start to Worry? 

As mentioned, cats will sometimes have hairballs. It happens, and it’s really not too much to worry about. After they get the hairball up, you can dispose of it. An occasional (once a month or less) bit of vomiting because of an upset stomach could occur, as well, and it is not usually too much of a problem. 

It tends to be trouble when it happens frequently and/or when the are other symptoms happening along with the vomiting. 

This might include things like lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever or changes in litter box habits. There might also be other changes you notice. For example, if you had a typical cat who has suddenly become clingy and they are vomiting, it could be a serious health issue. 

Treating Cat Vomiting 

There isn’t just a single treatment when it comes to helping your cat with vomiting problems. Different types of problems will require different treatments. The best course of action is to rely on a vet for all of the treatments that might be needed. They will know which treatments to use and how to implement them. 

Whenever you are worried about the health of your cat, contact a vet and let them know what’s happening. You will have peace of mind when you know your cat is in good hands and the next steps you should take to get your feline companion happy and healthy once again. 


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