Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Foam?

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Foam?
Image Credit: Vladdeep/iStock/GettyImages

If you spot your cat throwing up white foam, a number of different things could be the cause. Cats vomit white foam due to everything from hairballs to more serious 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. This is especially true if your cat is continuously vomiting or stops eating.

Skipped meals and foamy vomit

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, according to petMD. Therefore, if you see your cat throwing up white foam, it could be because his belly is expecting food and didn't receive it quickly enough.

When a cat has white foamy vomit, 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 him a pet-friendly snack to munch on in the meanwhile. Or, try feeding him a canned food diet that may take a bit longer for his tummy to digest.


Sign of hairballs

Believe it or not, a cat throwing up white foam could be due to hairballs. Cats get hairballs when they swallow hairs during their grooming duties. According to WebMD, if you notice your cat has white foamy vomit 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 your cat's white foamy vomit.


You may see that your cat is throwing up bile and digestive fluids alone, at first, but that is usually the precursor to the hairball finally making an appearance due to the stomach upset it causes. Other common indications of hairballs are constipation and reduced appetite.

Keep an eye on your feline friend, though, because if she doesn't eat for more than 24 to 48 hours, a visit to the vet may be necessary. Also, cats who don't eat can develop a more serious condition like hepatic lipidosis, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. That is why it's so important to monitor her 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 his stomach, he might have gastritis, warns PetPlace. Cats with gastritis frequently throw up foam, digested or fresh blood, and bile. If your poor cat is throwing up bile, 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 him 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 your cat keeps throwing up bile, food, and liquid, 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.

Your vet can provide your cat with the care she needs including intravenous fluids and medications to stop her vomiting. He will also examine her and perform tests to determine the cause of her vomiting.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.