Why Does My Cat Throw Up Dry Food?

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Many cats are known to vomit up their dry food after eating. If you've ever wondered why your cat throws up dry food but not wet food, there are several possible reasons.

Observe your cat's actions during and after eating to narrow the cause down.
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The cause of the vomiting may seem like a mystery at first, but there are several reasons why this behavior happens, and it's actually much more common than you may think. Observe your cat's actions during and after eating to narrow the cause down.


Regurgitating their food

Cats who eat only dry food oftentimes regurgitate the food almost as soon as they finish eating. Once the dry food mixes with the contents of their stomach, it expands and causes discomfort.


Something as innocuous as the shape of the dry food could cause regurgitation. Try different shapes of dry food to see if kitty can keep pellet-shaped food down versus star-shaped or square pieces of kitty kibble.

Eating too fast

Eating a meal too quickly makes some cats vomit the food back up. By not chewing the food well enough, the cat increases its chances of throwing up. To slow down eating, keep pet siblings (both cats and dogs) separated if someone seems to be eating too fast because of stress or pressure exerted by household competition.


Some cats may eat too quickly.
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Coughing up hairballs

Longer-haired cats may throw up their food because there is an excessive amount of hair in their stomachs from licking while grooming themselves. This excess hair may not be exclusive to longhaired cats, but it is more likely to happen to them than to their shorter-haired feline companions.


To reduce the chances of hairball creation, brush your cat regularly to get rid of loose hair. There are also special foods made for hairball-prone cats.

Reduce stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety may make your cat become ill after eating. There may be a change in the cat's diet or the home environment that causes stress. Have you added a new pet or human family member to the household? Or maybe someone is gone, or you moved to a new home?


Perhaps a neighborhood kitty is on the prowl outdoors and your cat could be stressed for territorial reasons. Look for other signs of stress such as hair loss, hiding in isolation or strange places, or meowing loudly.

Check for allergies or illness

Your cat may be allergic to an ingredient within the dry food. Believe it or not, cats can be allergic to beef, chicken, fish, or dairy. They could have a somewhat milder food intolerance, rather than a full allergy. Cats can also be allergic to corn or other grains. The good news is, there are special foods made for kitties with sensitive stomachs.


Other, more serious reasons for a cat vomiting after eating dry food include having a senior pet, parasitic infestation, stomach ulcers, or diabetes.

It's important to get veterinary help if vomiting becomes chronic or more serious. Always check with a professional veterinarian to figure out the best course of action for your feline friend.


When your cat throws up dry food but not wet

Try wetting the dry food with some warm water and feeding smaller amounts per meal.
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For cats who are regurgitating or eating too fast, try wetting the dry food with some warm water or broth and feeding smaller amounts per meal.


Hairballs can be treated with small amounts of petroleum jelly added to the diet or specially formulated dry food. Stress can be treated by observing the stressor and trying to lessen it. For illnesses, see your veterinarian, as excessive vomiting can be a sign of something more serious.