Common Reasons Why Cats Vomit

Cats are experts at hiding the signs that they aren’t feeling well - except when it comes to vomiting. If you don’t hear it before you see it (and all cat owners are familiar with that sound), then you usually manage to find it with your foot. 


Even though it can seem like it while we’re cleaning it up, cats aren’t vomiting just to make a statement. There are reasons that your cat may be leaving you fun piles to find. Most of the time, the reasons don’t have anything to do with illness. It’s not abnormal for cats to occasionally vomit, but it shouldn’t be happening all the time. If your cat is constantly leaving puke piles, it’s time to talk to your vet. 


Knowing why your cat may be vomiting doesn’t make it less gross, but it will make it easier to tell when they just have a tender tummy and when they might have a more serious problem. Stick with us to learn about the common reasons why cats vomit, so you’re prepared the next time your cat leaves you an early morning surprise. 

Is My Cat Actually Vomiting?

Just because it went into your cat’s stomach and back out his mouth doesn’t actually mean your cat is vomiting. There are two different ways your cat might expel stomach contents, or “throw-up.” 


Vomiting is an active process that involves stomach heaving, retching, and drooling. It can take a few minutes and digestive contents are ejected from the body with force. The hiccuping sound that we’ve all heard is the noise produced as a result of the stomach heaving and the esophagus preparing for expulsion. 


The other type of throwing up is regurgitation. Regurgitation is passive. It doesn’t look or sound as dramatic as vomiting. With regurgitation, your cat can be standing there and then suddenly spit up. This usually happens about 15 to 30 minutes after eating. 


Even though they’re similar, the reasons behind vomiting versus regurgitation can differ. It’s important that you’re familiar with the difference if you feel your cat may be sick.


Why Cats Vomit

There are a number of reasons cats vomit. Some are more common than others. We’ll go over some of the most common reasons your cat may vomit. 


  • Hairballs- If you have a cat, chances are you have found one of these at least once in the middle of the night. Hairballs are formed when your cat expels the loose hair they have ingested during grooming.

  • Eating too fast and too much- If your cat has a habit of gobbling food the minute it hits the bowl, this can cause his stomach to rebel. This can be a problem in multi-cat households if one cat likes to dominate the food dish. 

  • Gastroenteritis (tummy upset)- An upset stomach can be caused by bacteria, viruses, a food change, or being exposed to toxins. Gastroenteritis doesn’t necessarily require a vet visit, but if you suspect your cat has been exposed to something toxic or the symptoms seem serious, consult your veterinarian ASAP. 

  • Stress- If you have had any changes to your routine or you have a cat who is generally anxious, vomiting can be caused by stress. A healthy cat that has undergone a sudden change in routine or any kind of stressful situation can start to display gastrointestinal signs, like vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Food allergies or sensitivities- Food allergies in cats frequently show up as upset stomachs. In the case of dietary sensitivity, vomiting may also be accompanied by diarrhea and itchy, inflamed skin. Work with your veterinarian to pinpoint the source of the allergen if you suspect your cat may have food sensitivities. 

  • Blockages/obstruction- A blockage can occur anywhere in the digestive tract. Your cat’s belly will be tender, and they may seem weak and lethargic. Blockages can be caused by hairballs and ingesting foreign objects like string. Intestinal obstruction is a medical emergency and you need to get treatment for your cat immediately. 

  • Parasites- These are more likely if you have a kitten or an indoor/outdoor cat. A cat with parasites may also have diarrhea, and sometimes you may be able to see evidence of the parasite in your cat’s vomit. 

  • Systemic diseases- Vomiting is a symptom of a few diseases that are common in cats. 
    • Diabetes
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Kidney Disease
    • Cancer

    When To Seek Veterinary Attention

    You don’t need to run to the vet every time your cat throws up. There are, however, some instances where your cat needs medical attention. If your cat shows any of these signs, call your vet immediately.


  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Blood in the vomit
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic vomiting
  • Pale gums
  • Refusing food and water
  • Behavior changes
  • Something just doesn’t seem right (you know your cat best, after all!)
  • Treating Your Cat’s Vomiting at Home

    If your cat experiences random incidents of vomiting, and your vet has given you the all-clear, you can address some of the causes at home. 


  • Regular grooming- Brushing your cat will help reduce the amount of hair your cat ingests while grooming. This will not only reduce the number of hairballs your cat vomits up but will also reduce the risk of intestinal blockages.

  • Hairball treatment- If your cat’s occasional vomiting spells are hairball-related, you can help them pass the hairballs more easily. You can buy over-the-counter treatments, or add some fish oil to your cat’s food. Fish oil improves the condition of your cat’s coat, reducing shedding, while also helping the hair pass through the digestive tract more easily. 

  • Hydration- No matter what the reason, if your cat is vomiting he needs some extra fluids. Make sure your cat always has access to fresh, clean water so they can rehydrate.

  • Try a bland diet- If your cat has some stomach issues related to food, he may need a bland diet to help his stomach reset. Boiled chicken, cooked white fish, and rice will fill your cat’s belly without making it work too hard. 

  • Calming Relief- This overall wellness supplement is a must for any cat! With only two powerful ingredients, it’s the perfect addition to your cat’s bowl to help support their wellbeing. Turmeric helps soothe the stomach while organic hemp seed offers immune support.


  • A vomiting kitty is no reason to panic. But it’s always a good idea to do your research. Make sure to save this post so that you can review it the next time your cat hurls something up onto your carpet.


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