Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Foam?

If you spot your cat throwing up what appears to be white foam, a number of different things could be the cause. Cats vomit white foam due to everything from hairballs to health conditions such as gastritis. The key for owners is to pay attention to any accompanying symptoms their cats might display, as veterinary attention might be necessary.

Himalayan kitten on small sofa
Cats with longer hair are particularly susceptible to hairballs.
credit: Hirokazu Aoyama/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images

A Skipped Meal Could Prompt Foamy Vomit

If your cat throws up foam, it could be because her belly is expecting food and didn't receive it quickly enough. When cats' stomachs prepare for eating, they emit bile, gastric juices and hydrochloric acid. These components are required for proper meal digestion, but when cats don't get fed soon after their bellies expect it, the hydrochloric acid can lead to irritation of their stomachs. Feline bodies often respond by eliminating the acids.

When cats throw up foam, it's sometimes a result of changes in their feeding schedules. They sometimes throw up a combination of yellowish bile and white foam. If you're adjusting your pet's feeding schedule and want to minimize the possibility of such irritation, give her a pet-friendly snack to munch on in the meanwhile.

Sign of Hairballs

Believe it or not, throwing up foam could be due to hairballs. Cats get hairballs when they swallow hairs during their grooming duties. According to Diane Stein, author of "The Natural Remedy Book for Dogs and Cats," if you notice your cat vomiting foam that doesn't have any hair in it, hairballs could indeed be the culprit. If your cat is throwing up white foam and making noticeable hacking sounds, then it could be a precursor to actually producing the mass of hair -- the hairball. If the mass forms a plug, it may strain liquid out that appears as foam. Other common indications of hairballs are constipation and reduced appetite.

Possible Stomach Inflammation

Vomiting foam can occasionally indicate stomach inflammation in cats. This condition is commonly called gastritis. If your cat consumed anything that could have potentially harmed the lining of her stomach, she might have gastritis. Cats with gastritis frequently throw up foam, digested or fresh blood, and bile. If your poor cat is suffering from excessive vomiting and appears to have zero appetite, then gastritis could be the cause.

Other symptoms of gastritis in felines are depression, sluggishness, dehydration and stomachache. If your cat displays any sign of gastritis, take her to the veterinarian for an examination without delay. Detail all the symptoms you've observed to the veterinarian. This information will help the vet understand exactly what's going on.

Prompt Veterinary Care

While throwing up white foam in cats is not uncommon, it's crucial to pay close attention to your pet's vomiting patterns. If your cat's throwing up is excessive, take her to the veterinarian immediately for an assessment. If she keeps throwing up, her body risks deprivation of vital minerals and fluids, which can bring upon severe dehydration that can lead to coma and death. Repeated vomiting bouts generally indicates trouble inside the body.