Also known as emesis, vomiting is a common complaint seen in cats that is defined as the ejection of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Regurgitating is often diagnosed as vomiting. Food which is regurgitated comes from the esophageus shortly after it has been consumed & contains non-digested food. Regurgitating does not involve heaving prior to expulsion, nor will it contain digested food or bile which is often seen with true vomiting.

Vomiting is the forceful ejection of food from the stomach & upper intestine. The cat salivates, appears to attempt to swallow, wretches, abdominal muscle contractions can be seen & the cat will retch, make a gagging sound & produce vomit. Vomit will often contain bile, blood & mucus.

What are the causes of vomiting in cats?

There are many possible causes of vomiting in cats, some causes of vomiting include;

Food/Diet Related:

  • Eating too fast
  • Rapid change in the diet. If you are going to switch brands or type of food, gradually introduce the new type over a few days
  • Eating inappropriate foods such as old or mouldy food, food inappropriate for cats etc.
  • Food allergies
  • Food intolerance
  • Foreign object. Bones, wool etc. Ingestion of toxins such as antifreeze, aspirin, poisonous plants etc.ParasitesIntestinal worms


  • Acute metritis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Diseases
  • EndocrinopathiesFeline Panleukopenia
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
  • Giardia
  • Hairballs
  • Heat stroke
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • InfectionsIntestinal lymphomaLiver disease
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Pancreatitis
  • Renal failure
  • Ruptured bladderSalmonellosis
  • Ulcers

When should my cat be taken to a veterinarian?

An isolated incident of vomiting where the cat shows no other signs of illness is not uncommon & generally doesn't necessitate a trip to the vet.

You should seek veterinary attention if;

  • If your pet vomits repeatedly
  • Also has diarrhoea
  • If the vomit is foul smelling
  • If your cat acts lethargic
  • If your cat has ingested a poison or toxin
  • If the vomit contains blood
  • If the cat appears listless & unwel
  • lIf the abdomen is bloated

If possible, when you take your cat to the veterinarian, bring along a sample of the vomit too. This will assist the vet to determine the underlying cause of the vomiting.

How is vomiting diagnosed & treated?

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your cat & obtain a medical history including possible exposure to toxins.

Being able to assess the vomiting will assist your veterinarian. He may ask about the type of vomiting your cat has been experiencing such as:

  • Repeated vomiting, sporadic vomiting, vomiting blood, fecal vomiting, projectile vomiting, vomiting foreign objects (hairballs, pieces of cloth etc) or motion sickness.

He will wish to perform some tests, some of which may include;

  • Complete blood count
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal flotation to evaluate for parasites
  • Total T4 may be performed on an older cat to evaluate for hyperthyroidism
  • FeLV/FIV test
  • Abdominal X-rays or ultrasound to for gastrointestinal obstruction, neoplasia & organ size.
  • Heartworm testing.

Treatment is aimed at finding & treating the cause of the vomiting. Also, your veterinarian may wish to correct fluid & electrolyte imbalance & feed a low-fat, easily digestible diet.


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