Analyzing the Different Types of Cat Throw Up

cat vomiting

One of the common health concerns for feline owners is vomiting. Most owners know the vomiting signs; the gagging, the mournful meow, and heaving retch. A few moments later, you are left with a mess to clean on the floor. While the throwing up might be caused by something as easy as a hairball or upset stomach, it could also be a sign of a serious concern that needs veterinary care. Here is an exclusive analysis of the different types of cats throw up to help you determine when your feline friend requires to see the vet and how to manage your cat at home in mild cases.

What Is Vomiting in Cats?

Vomiting is described as the active removal of food from the stomach. It involves forceful contractions of abdominal muscles, causing the expulsion of saliva, fluid, or food. According to Vca animal hospitals, throwing up can result from stomach disorders but can also be a clinical symptom of many diseases and health issues. Throwing up might start with a stage of nausea where the kitten spears anxious and restless.

The cat often tends to lick its lips, salivate and swallow repeatedly. It is essential to differentiate vomiting from abdominal contractions linked to coughing. Cats can sometimes cough up a foamy substance that they then swallow. Kittens usually crouch down all their legs and with a stretched-out neck when coughing. If you are unsure if your feline is throwing up or coughing, you should show a video to your doctor exhibiting the cat’s behavior.

Vomiting Vs. Regurgitation

It is also crucial to differentiate cats throwing up from regurgitation. Unlike vomiting, regurgitation usually is linked with problems affecting the esophagus and is a more passive process. While vomiting often involves abdominal contractions and effort, regurgitation typically happens fast without abdominal contractions immediately after drinking or eating.

Vomiting Consistency in Cats

Most pet owners are familiar with the distinctive hacking sound of cat vomiting. However, the fact that you know the sound does not mean it should be a regular occurrence. Throwing up in cats might be an early sign of illness, so you should be careful not to overlook an essential change in the cat’s health. This is why it’s essential to differentiate between acute and chronic vomiting. Acute throwing up is one that has been occurring for no more than two to three days.

Many cases will respond fast to simple symptomatic treatment. According to PETMD, the cause of acute vomiting is often not established and might be because of factors such as ingesting toxic plants or eating spoiled food. It is usual for your feline friend to have an occasional hairball due to their fussy grooming behaviors. However, throwing up not linked to hairballs is a sign of a medical problem. On the other hand, chronic vomiting is a sign of an underlying issue. If your kitty vomits a couple of times in a day or you note a high frequency of vomiting, it is best to discuss the issue with your veterinarian.

Analyzing Different Colors of Cat Throw Up

Cat owners often want to diagnose the meaning of their pet’s throw up based on the consistency and color of the vomit. However, the diagnosis is not easy as the color of the cat’s throw up can vary based on what the kitty has eaten, dyes used in treats and foods, and other additional factors. Therefore, while color can suggest a possible diagnosis, diagnosing the cause of your cat’s throwing up is unreliable.

Yellow Vomit

If your kitty vomits yellow, this can be a sign of liver disease. However, this can also mean that the cat ate something yellow or is on an empty stomach.

Red Or Pink Vomit

A red or pink throw up is an indication of the presence of blood. If you notice that there is blood in the vomit, the blood could result from the esophagus, mouth, or stomach. The red puke might also be due to ingested foreign dyes or material used in the cat’s treats and food.

White Or Clear Vomit

A white or clear throw up might mean the kitty is on an empty stomach. This might also result from the regurgitation of saliva from the esophagus.

Black Or Brown Vomit

Black or brown throw up can mean to be a sign of bleeding in the digestive tract. This is a severe condition that should be addressed immediately by your veterinarian.


Green throws up can sometimes happen because of the presence of bile or because the kitty has eaten green foreign material or foods with green dyes. Remember that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and you should consult your cat’s vet for an accurate diagnosis.

Undigested Food in The Vomit

If you notice your cat’s throw up contains undigested food, it often means that the food did not leave the stomach. It can occur due to food allergies, intolerances, obstructions, or irritation of the upper gastrointestinal tract. According to Great PetCare, it is essential to know when your feline friend ate last to help diagnose the primary cause. For example, if it hasn’t eaten for an entire day and vomits undigested food, there is a GIT obstruction or a motility disorder.

Common Causes of Cat Throw Up

Like us, cats can throw up due to diverse reasons. Some reasons are relatively gentle and might even go away on their own, while others are more serious. Some of the common causes of cat throw up include;


Naturally, felines are clean and love grooming themselves for most of the day. According to The Spruce Pets, as the kitty grooms itself, its tongue has small hook-up structures that catch dead and loose hair. Most hairs are swallowed and pass through the digestive tract without issues. However, a few of the hair remains in the stomach to form a hairball. Hairballs may cause or contribute to vomiting. Although it is often typical for cats to throw up a hairball, and there is no cause for concern, it is essential to note that hairballs should not be painful, frequent, or challenging for your kitty to pass.


Gastroenteritis is a scientific term for an upset stomach, which can happen due to toxins, dietary indiscretion, etc. A few of these gastroenteritis causes are mild and go away on their own, while others are more severe and will require a vet’s attention.

Food Allergies

Vomiting in felines can also result from food allergies. This often occurs in those with intestinal sensitivities that might be causing them to throw up undigested or partially digested food. Other signs of food allergy include; intermittent abdominal pain, weight, diarrhea, soft stool, and increased poop frequency.


Parasites are more common in kittens but can also affect adult cats. Occasionally, pet owners can observe live worms in the vomit. If your feline friend often catches mice, birds, or other rodents, they get exposed to intestinal worms that cause queasiness and other symptoms like weight loss and diarrhea. Fortunately, treating the parasites will often resolve the vomiting.

Motion Sickness

Cats often become nauseous and might throw up during a car ride. If this is your case, consider consulting with your vet about medications to manage your cat’s throw up and nausea, particularly if you will be taking long car trips.


According to FirstVet, felines are susceptible to many household products and plants.

Sudden Diet Change

Changing your cat’s food suddenly can often cause vomiting. When changing your cat’s diet, it is essential to blend the old food with new food over two weeks. Increase the amount of food slowly each day while decreasing the amount of old food.

Systemic Illnesses

Chronic pancreatitis, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism often cause chronic throwing up and nausea. Addressing the issue will need you to start by identifying the primary condition. However, most of these conditions are severe and might need lifelong management.

Foreign Body Obstructions

Cats have a predating nature and love to hunt even inanimate things like yarn, string, and thread. If your feline friend chews and starts to swallow something like a string, it often continues swallowing the whole length. This leads to intestinal or stomach obstruction that can cause vomiting. If you notice your kitty has ingested any string or bones, consult your veterinarian immediately. Don’t try pulling the thread out, as this can lead to more damage to the intestinal tract.


Cancers of the digestive tract are relatively common in felines and can cause throw up by interfering with regular digestion. Cancers in other body areas can also cause feelings of discomfort, nausea, and malaise which can also cause vomiting.

When To Get Concerned About Cat Vomiting

It is usual for a kitty to throw up occasionally. However, a change in the frequency, consistency, or volume of throw up can cause concern. So, when should you get concerned about your kitty’s vomiting? Throwing up in cats is especially worrying if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as; fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, changes in the litter box habits, and other health and behavior changes. Therefore, contact your veterinarian for further consultations if you notice any such symptoms.

Common Treatments of Cat Throw Up

As mentioned earlier, throwing up in cats can result from different conditions. Similarly, there are also different treatments depending on the cause. With a proper physical exam and testing, your veterinarian will diagnose the cause of the throw up and give appropriate treatment. Your vet will prescribe simple, supportive care such as antacids and antiemetic medications if your kitty has mild throw up due to gastroenteritis or hairballs. If your cat’s vomiting is caused by inflammatory bowel disease or food allergy, your feline friend might need to change its diet or go for a prescription diet occasionally.

If the vomiting is caused by cancer or systemic illness like chronic kidney disease, diagnosis, and treatment of the underlying condition will be your primary goal. If your cat’s vomiting is caused by inflammatory bowel disease or food allergy, your cat might need to change its diet or go for a prescription diet occasionally. Throwing up because of obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract is particularly serious. In most cases, foreign material will not easily pass through the GI tract and may cause severe damage if not eliminated immediately. In this type of vomiting, you should seek emergency veterinarian services. Your vet might recommend emergency surgery to eliminate the foreign material and treat any damaged sections of the intestine.

Home Remedies for Cat Throw Up

You can start with supportive home treatments for mild throw up cases where felines still appear healthy and don’t vomit blood. These include access to plenty of water and giving your kitty an excellent time to rest and fully recover. You should ensure your cat always has access to fresh water. An average cat drinks around an ounce of water per pound of body weight every day. Also, if your vet has diagnosed your feline with a disease that is potentially contagious to other cats, ensure to keep it isolated and away from others until it recovers.

It is recommendable not to treat your cat’s throw up at home before consulting with your veterinarian. Many causes of vomiting, such as obstruction or foreign bodies, can cause severe damage or death if not properly treated immediately. According to PRETTYLITTER, if hairballs cause vomiting, your vet might recommend over-the-counter hairball treatment daily to help the hair go through your cat’s digestive tract. However, you should not give your kitty any medication unless given directions by your vet.

How To Prevent Cat Vomiting

Several measures can help prevent your feline friend from vomiting. These include;

Hairball Remedy

If your feline throws up more hairballs than usual, you may help with regular brushing. This could be as regular as daily for the long-haired cats. You can also try over-the-counter dietary supplements in either gel or chew forms.

Changes In Food or Feeding Frequency

If you notice your furry friend throws up regularly, you might try changing their diet. According to IAMS, ensure your cat’s food transition is comfortable and successful by gradually measuring up the amount you should feed your cat. Also help your feline to eat more slowly by eliminating competition by feeding them in different places.

Watch Out for Non-Food Items

Prevent your feline friends from ingesting non-food items such as string, toys, or houseplants.

Consult With Your Vet About Special Diets

If your vet diagnoses the feline with inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies, feeding a prescribed special diet according to your vet might prevent vomiting.

Bottom Line

That’s it. We hope you now understand the different types of cats’ throw up. A cat’s throw-up can be due to something normal such as pesky hairballs or something more severe and highly abnormal. Your feline friend and doctor are counting on you to know when this occurs and offer or reach out for help.

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