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What to do if Your Cat Keeps Vomiting

Vomiting can be a normal behavior for cats trying to expel a hairball or cough up something that's upsetting their stomach, however, repeated or recurring vomiting can be a sign of a much more serious concern. Our Cordova vets explain.

Why does my cat keep vomiting?

While many cats may only vomit a handful of times during their life, some cats may experience bouts of excessive vomiting. The causes of this vomiting can range from a simple hairball to more serious illnesses and conditions. Some cats may vomit occasionally and you'll never know the underlying reason.

Unfortunately, frequent vomiting in cats can lead to a number of concerns including malnourishment. If your cat is suffering from vomiting, no matter the cause, you should reach out to your vet to schedule an examination for your feline friend. If they are vomiting along with other serious accompanying symptoms then you should contact your nearest emergency vet as soon as possible.

What is the difference between hairballs and vomiting?

The main way to tell the difference between vomiting and a hairball is the appearance. A hairball (also known as a furball) will be a densely packed, tubular pile of hair with some fluid surrounding it. Vomit on the other hand will be mostly stomach and other fluids occasionally mixed with food.

It can be easy to confuse the acts of vomiting and expelling hairballs as they both require the cat to crouch low and make expulsive sounds and frankly, neither is very pleasant to witness or clean up.

What causes vomiting in cats?

The list of reasons why a cat vomits is extensive. When considering the causes of vomiting in cats it may be easier to use two categories, acute and chronic. 

Acute Cat Vomiting

The severity of the causes of acute cat vomiting can vary greatly. Here are some of the typical causes of acute vomiting in cats:

    • Dietary Reasons for Cat Vomiting
    • Eating Too Fast
    • Consuming Foreign Bodies
    • Toxins or Chemicals
    • Intestinal Parasites
    • Acute Kidney and Liver Failure
    • Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Infection
    • Pancreatitis
    • Certain Human Medications

Chronic Cat Vomiting

Chronic vomiting in cats is often more severe and requires a detailed treatment plan.

Here are some of the common causes of chronic vomiting in cats:

    • Dietary Causes
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Intestinal Obstruction
    • Neurological Disorders
    • Metabolic and Hormonal Imbalances

What about the color of my cat's vomit?

it may not be something that immediately springs to mind, but the color of your cat's vomit can actually tell your vet a lot about the possible underlying cause. 

Here are the commonly seen colors of vomit in cats and what they can mean:

  • Brown: The brown can be from regular cat food or treats but also may indicate blood. By using a paper towel to clean up the vomit you may be able to better tell what the cause of the color is.
  • Green: Green vomit usually occurs if the cat has been eating any type of plant. If your cat is vomiting green it can also indicate that they have been sick on an empty stomach as this color comes from bile.
  • Yellow: Bile can also cause the vomit to be yellow. Just like green vomit, this usually means that their stomach was empty when they vomited.
  • Red: Bleeding in your cat's digestive tract may result in red vomit. If this occurs you should contact your vet immediately. This is a veterinary emergency.
  • Black: Black, tarry vomit that resembles coffee grounds indicates that your cat has blood present. This situation requires immediate emergency veterinary attention.
  • White: White vomit usually happens when there is foam present. This is not usually serious and can happen when a cat vomits on an empty stomach.

If your cat is vomiting repeatedly, you might want to collect a small amount of the vomit before heading to your vet's office. Your cat's vomit may provide your veterinarian with vital clues to the cause of your cat's condition.

Should I be worried if my cat keeps vomiting?

Some of the signs that your cat requires immediate veterinary attention after vomiting are:

  • Your cat keeps vomiting and has vomited two or more times in a row.
  • You notice that your cat isn't eating or they are experiencing diarrhea. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration if left untreated.
  • If your cat has been vomiting frequently and also hasn't drank water in more than 12 hours.
  • Vomiting in cats that have been diagnosed with a medical condition is considered a veterinary emergency and you should contact your primary vet or nearest emergency vet right away.
  • If your cat has vomited a worm then you should contact your vet right away to have your cat dewormed. If left untreated these intestinal parasites can cause serious harm to your cat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat has vomited more than twice in a row, a visit to the vet may be in order. Contact our Cordova vet to book an urgent examination for your feline friend!

Scottish fold cat portrait. Closeup of the face of a black and white Scottish Fold.

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