Why Is My Cat Throwing Up a Lot?

By Melissa Voelker

There are many reasons a cat may throw up, and not all of them mean there is any kind of serious problem. However, if a cat starts vomiting frequently, either several times in one day or over a period of days, your cat may have a health issue that needs treatment from a veterinarian.

Types of Frequent Vomiting

There are two main types of frequent vomiting that can appear in cats. Persistent vomiting covers those episodes where your cat may throw up again and again, even once his stomach is empty, until all he is throwing up is a clear, sometimes frothy liquid. Sporadic vomiting includes those times when your cat may throw up at least once a day, every day, for up to several weeks. While persistent vomiting can be caused by non-life-threatening problems such as hairballs, sporadic vomiting is usually a sign of a more serious health issue.

Non-Life-Threatening Causes of Vomiting

Cat eating

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Problems with eating are the most frequent reason a cat will start throwing up. If your cat eats its food too quickly it may eject it several moments or minutes later. This usually will look like undigested cat food, as it hasn't had time to settle in the stomach yet. If you change your cat's food suddenly or she has developed an intolerance to it, she may also start throwing it up. Eating grass, plants or foreign objects can lead to similar results. In most cases, this is not a serious issue, as the cat will stop vomiting once the food or foreign object has been expelled. Hairballs are also usually a nonserious reason a cat will vomit. While most hairballs include just quantities of hair, some may also include partially digested food and stomach fluids.

Vomiting Caused by Parasites

A cat receiving de-worming medication

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An infestation of worms can lead to vomiting in cats, and can even lead to their throwing up worms as well as food. Intestinal parasites can cause several health problems in cats, including digestive problems, and may pose a serious risk in kittens or older cats. If they are causing a serious enough health problem, they can lead to sporadic vomiting.

Vomiting Caused by Disease

Cat on bed

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There are many serious diseases that can lead to frequent vomiting in cats. Disorders of the central nervous system, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, liver disease and pancreatitis can all be accompanied by persistent and sporadic vomiting episodes. In some cases the vomit may include blood or what looks like coffee grounds (digested blood). Throwing up may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss, extreme thirst and lethargy.

Vomiting Caused by Other Health Issues

Cat and his carrier

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Diseases are not the only cause for frequent vomiting in cats. Issues such as feline urinary syndrome, heat stroke, motion sickness, cancer, obstructions and ulcers can all lead to throwing up, as can infections. These issues may be accompanied by sporadic vomiting as well as symptoms such as loss of appetite, tenderness, restlessness and lethargy.


Preparing a cat for an x-ray

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It is important to take note if your cat has started a period of frequent vomiting. Most cats rarely throw up unless there is something seriously wrong with them. It is important to keep an eye on them and also look out for other symptoms. Then call a veterinary professional and see if she recommends bringing the cat in for an examination. Cats who throw up frequently after eating, even if it seems to be because they are eating too quickly, should be watched for problems such as dehydration and diarrhea, as these could put their health at risk.