Cat Vomiting: What's Normal and When to Be Concerned

Posted by Dr. Roth on

Cat hissing, cat vomiting: what's normal and when to be concerned

Cats can worry pet parents when they suddenly vomit on a carpet or the hardwood floor. It leads many pet parents to wonder when their cats vomit, what’s normal and when to be concerned? While cats can vomit for several reasons, not all warrant an emergency trip to the vet clinic. There’s a lot to understand about cat vomiting and when pet parents should take action.


Common Reasons for Cat Vomiting

There are several common causes:


Hairballs, clumps of indigestible hair combined with saliva, bile, and digested food, are the most common cause of vomiting in cats. It’s normal for cats to hack up hairballs anywhere from once a week to once a month, depending on the cat, breed, and grooming habits. Luckily, most hair a cat swallows leaves the digestive tract through feces.

Nearly all cats vomit hairballs, so pet parents shouldn't worry unless the cat vomits hairballs frequently or nothing comes out when vomiting, which could indicate they have hair stuck in their intestinal wall.

To reduce hairballs, pet parents can try a few hairball hacks:

  • Comb a cat’s fur daily, or at least once or twice a week, with a bristle or rubber brush. Cats with long hair may need a long-toothed comb for tangles. 
  • Consider dietary supplements that can help prevent hairballs from forming.
  • Give cats pet foods formulated for hairball prevention. These foods often contain digestive enzymes and extra fiber to help break down hair before it develops into a mass. 
  • Provide a hairball remedy. These remedies include lubricating ingredients like petroleum jelly and cod liver oil that help the hairball pass through the digestive tract.

Eating Something They Shouldn’t

Cats can eat many things they shouldn’t, including toxic plant leaves, spoiled food, insects, human foods, or objects like paper clips or yarn. All of these can lead to vomiting. Some items may even become stuck in their throats or stomachs, causing a life-threatening emergency. if a pet parent thinks their cat ingested something toxic, this is a reason to contact a vet immediately. 


Cats can become ill for many reasons. They can pick up bacterial, fungal, and viral infections that lead to poor health and vomiting. Other illnesses, such as cancer, metabolic disorders like kidney or thyroid disease, inflammation of the intestines or stomach, or intestinal parasites, can also cause a cat to vomit. Pet parents should regularly monitor how often their cat vomit and contact their vet if anything appears out of the ordinary.

Dietary Changes

Changes in nutrition, food, food allergies, or how much a cat eats can also cause vomiting. In addition, cats, especially those in multi-cat households, may eat too quickly as a way to protect their food source, causing digestive issues or an upset stomach.

Top Signs and Symptoms Pet Parents Should Look For

Pet parents should contact a vet if they notice any of the following:

  • Synthetic objects in the vomit
  • Abdominal bloating or pain
  • Crying
  • Lack of appetite or increased appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Blood in vomit or feces

Pet parents can monitor a cat if they have food-or-hairball-related vomiting once or twice but aren’t showing other symptoms. If vomiting comes back or the cat shows signs of ill health, parents should contact a vet for cat health advice. However, if a pet parent knows the cat ate something poisonous, such as a toxic household plant, chocolate, grapes, garlic, or onions, they should call a vet or head to a local clinic immediately.

Cat Vomiting Questions for Fuzzy Vets 

Pet parents who need cat advice for vomiting, hairball treatments, and other cat questions can connect with a Fuzzy vet for 24/7 Live Vet Chat.

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