My cat keeps throwing up but seems fine: Grey cat lied down on a bed

The most frequent cause of vomiting is passing hairballs.

© Shutterstock

My cat keeps throwing up but seems fine: What's going on?

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

From bacteria to hairballs to stomach blockages, there are plenty of reasons to think about if your cat is throwing up.

When it comes to your cat throwing up, the big questions are: how often is it and what are they vomiting up? Because the frequency and the reason why they're being sick will make all the difference as to whether you should wait it out or speed off to a vet with them.

What's the cause of frequent vomiting in cats? 

Vomiting in cats actually has many causes. These include: stress, hair balls, constipation, food intolerance, diet indiscretion (scavenging), gut infections (parasites, viruses, bacteria and protozoa), metabolic disease (liver, kidney, endocrine diseases), some cancers, and physical blockages (either anatomical, such as gut twists, or from eating foreign material such as wool or toys).

What treatment and prevention is there for frequent vomiting in cats?

Treatment and prevention depend on the underlying cause. Vomiting is most often mild and self-limiting and treatment is usually supportive, including hydration support, bland diet and anti-vomiting medication.

Prevention can involve a change in diet or how your cat eats (e.g. puzzle feeders).

Why is my cat throwing up undigested food?

If your cat is vomiting undigested food, the most common causes are eating too quickly, stomach irritation or a gut blockage.

When should I be worried about my cat vomiting?

If your cat is vomiting frequently, or if they are unwell, it is best to seek veterinary advice. Cats can quickly become dehydrated, which can affect their kidneys. As such, if your cat is vomiting water, it is important to seek advice quickly. 

Why does my indoor cat keep throwing up?

The most frequent cause of vomiting is passing hairballs. This is more common in long-haired cats. Indoor cats may develop food allergies, which cause them to start vomiting, even if they have been fed the same diet quite happily for years. Cats may also eat unusual items that can cause a blockage in their stomach or intestine. String or thread can be particularly harmful if eaten.  

What home remedies help cats from throwing up?

You can support your feline friend by feeding them bland food little and often, and encouraging them to drink. Home remedies should not be given – if your cat vomits they may inhale some of the contents of the stomach and oesophagus, which can cause more severe complications such as pneumonia. If your cat has a blockage, they may need surgery. If home remedies have been given, these can complicate the surgery. Cats are also very different to people (and dogs) in how they metabolise treatments, and some can be toxic to cats even when they are safe in other species.

Should I take my cat to the vet for vomiting?

If your cat is vomiting frequently (more than once or twice per week) or is unwell – off their food, lethargic or showing weight loss – then it is best to see a vet. If your cat is vomiting after drinking, it is important to have them treated before they become too dehydrated.

When should you take your cat to the vet for vomiting?

If your cat is vomiting frequently – every other day or more – or if your cat appears unwell, it is best to seek veterinary advice. One of the biggest risks for cats is dehydration, which can affect their kidneys. So if your cat is vomiting water, it is important to seek advice quickly.

How do I get my cat to stop throwing up food?

If your cat has vomited, do not feed them for a few hours (but ensure they have access to fresh, clean water). Then offer them a small amount of bland food and, if they keep it down, you can gradually reintroduce their usual food. If your cat vomits frequently but is otherwise well, try changing their food for a more sensitive diet. If this doesn’t work and your cat still vomits frequently, it is best to have them checked by a vet.

Is it normal for a cat to throw up every day?

It is not normal for a cat to vomit daily and suggests an underlying problem, such as diet intolerance, mild blockage or anatomical problem.

How often is normal for a cat to vomit?

Cats may vomit once to twice weekly – especially if they are hunters – without causing harm. Provided they are otherwise well, have normal faeces and are drinking well, then infrequent vomiting should not cause harm.

Should I feed my cat again after vomiting?

If your cat vomits, it is best to withhold food for a few hours, as the stomach and oesophagus may be irritated. They should have access to fresh, clean water at all times. If your cat is otherwise bright and well, it’s a good idea to offer a small amount of their usual food 4-6 hours later – a tablespoon of wet food or a few biscuits – to see if they are able to eat and keep it down before giving them a full meal. Missing an occasional meal will not harm your cat, provided they are well hydrated.

What can you give a cat for throwing up?

Feeding a bland diet little and often, such as boiled chicken or white fish, will be less irritant to the stomach. Giving the water you have cooked the meat in will encourage drinking. Keeping your cat hydrated is the most important thing to help them recover from vomiting.

How do I get my cat to stop throwing up after eating?

If your cat vomits after eating most meals, the first thing to do is to slow down their eating. Using a puzzle feeder or just a large stone in their food bowl will increase the time it takes them to eat and reduce the risk of bolting down their food. Feeding smaller meals more frequently can also help. If this doesn’t help, it may be their diet disagrees with them. Try a different food – ideally one for sensitive stomachs. If this still doesn’t help, it’s best to speak to a vet.

Why do older cats throw up so much?

Older cats may vomit more frequently than younger cats. Often, older cats may have underlying diseases that they seem to be experts at ‘hiding’ from us. Cats suffering from liver, kidney and gut diseases may not show symptoms until the disease is quite advanced. Often, vomiting and weight loss are the first symptoms. Increased thirst may also be seen, especially with kidney diseases and diabetes. A ravenous appetite and weight loss – often accompanied by vomiting or diarrhoea – can indicate hyperthyroid disease. Some older cats may be otherwise well, but can still develop food allergies.

More advice on...

What did you think of this advice article?

Thanks for your feedback !

Thanks for your feedback !

Leave a comment
Connect to comment
Want to share this article?