Why is my cat throwing up? Causes and treatments

If your cat has been throwing up, it's time to determine why and take immediate action. Why might your cat be vomiting, and what can you do to treat a sick cat?

When a cat is sick or throwing up, it desperately needs to get medical help.
When a cat is sick or throwing up, it desperately needs to get medical help.  © IMAGO/Pond5 Images

Sick cats will exhibit all sorts of different symptoms, but few are as unpleasant for both the kitty and its human friends as a solid spate of vomiting.

If your kitty is throwing up, you need to focus on what is causing the sickness and jump into action if it is something serious.

Puking cats are gross, sure, but they still need our help!

Important: Please remember that we are not veterinarians or medical professionals. We will provide you with surface-level details. The rest is up to your veterinarian, who should always be your first port of call when your kitty is sick.

Why is my cat throwing up so much?

There are a variety of reasons why your cat might be throwing up a little, ranging from the relatively innocuous to the straight-up dangerous. When your kitty starts to vomit, you need to look out for signs that could indicate the reason behind its affliction.

If it is unclear what the reason is, you think the reason is bad, or the throwing up is really intense, then you should take your cat immediately to the veterinarian, no questions asked.

Here are the most common reasons why cats throw up:

  • Stomach bug due to something your cat has eaten (likely innocuous and will pass)
  • Particularly bad fur ball that caused your cat to throw up (likely innocuous as well)
  • Eating too fast (likely innocuous)
  • Parasites
  • Allergies to certain foods
  • Cancer
  • Poisoning
  • Inflamed bowels
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Infections
  • Liver disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Issues in the intestines
  • Dietary problems
  • Constipation

Establishing the reason behind your cat's illness is always the best first step.

Cats will often get sick from bad food choices.
Cats will often get sick from bad food choices.  © IMAGO/Pond5 Images

Difference between cat puking and cat fur balls

A cat that's throwing up and a cat that's having a fur ball are two very different kitties. It is almost always better for your cat to be having a fur ball, as it is a natural and regular part of kitty life. On the flip side, while a throwing-up cat is not usually something particularly worrying, it is still worth paying attention to and being cautious about.

In terms of its aesthetics, fur balls are very easy to spot: While a cat's vomit will be spread out over the floor like human vomit, your kitty's hairball will take the form of a tube of rolled together hair, in a roughly cigar-like shape.

Of course, when cats have fur balls, they often regurgitate a little bit of vomit as well, so you will often find these little logs on a sumptuous bed of steaming bile.

Important: Extremely regular hairballs, often accompanied by excessive hair loss, is a serious problem and should be looked at by the veterinarian as soon as possible.

What to do when my cat is throwing up a lot

Sick cats deserve a lot of love and care.
Sick cats deserve a lot of love and care.  © IMAGO/Pond5 Images

In most cases, the best recommended course of action when a cat is throwing up a lot is an immediate trip to the veterinarian. While you can often suss out the cause of a cat's distress by various bits of body language as well as other symptoms, it's worth being extra cautious when your kitty is violently vomiting.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't keep your kitty comfortable and well rested as you transport it to the vet's office. This might seem unnecessary, but it will help to lessen your cat's discomfort and, more importantly, the anxiety it will be experiencing.

Tips for keeping a vomiting cat comfortable:

Woman thinks her cat is terminally ill, but the icky truth leaves her embarrassed
Cats Woman thinks her cat is terminally ill, but the icky truth leaves her embarrassed
  • Make sure any materials you are using are easily washable so that your cat's vomit doesn't ruin them.
  • Deck out your kitty's carrier with plenty of soft and comfortable blankets.
  • Keep things warm and calm wherever you're keeping your cat
  • Make sure to stay nearby and make your cat feel safe, but don't burden it with excessive cuddles and petting
  • Provide sufficient food and water
  • Surround your cat with friendly and familiar items and people

Now that you have reached the veterinarian's office with your unwell cat, it is time for the true treatment to begin.

Treatments for cat vomiting and puking

Once you get to the veterinarian, your vet will examine your kitty closely to determine what is causing the illness. These examinations may take all sorts of different forms, depending on any other symptoms that may be accompanying your kitty's vomit. A conclusion will then be reached on how to treat your cat.

Ultimately, the treatment will entirely depend on the cause. It may involve pills and other medications, a change in diet, or something completely different – it depends on a case-by-case basis.

When cats vomit blood, it is a medical emergency that needs your urgent attention.
When cats vomit blood, it is a medical emergency that needs your urgent attention.  © IMAGO/Pond5 Images

Cat puking blood – what should I do?

A cat that's puking blood is in the midst of a full-blown medical crisis and needs to go to the veterinarian immediately. This could be caused by internal bleeding due to an injury, something cancerous, or a totally different affliction. What is certain, though, is that something is very seriously wrong with your feline friend.

In many cases, a cat that is vomiting blood could be fatally unwell. You might not realize this as a cat owner because you are not an expert, so it is an absolute necessity that kitties in this level of distress and discomfort be provided with urgent medical attention.

In any situation where your pet is clearly in a state of concerning illness, things should be taken very seriously. If you are worried about your cat's health, go to the vet – it really is that simple.

Cover photo: IMAGO/Pond5 Images

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