My Cat Keeps Vomiting: Should I Be Worried?

Sometimes cats throw up, and while there's usually nothing to worry about, certain situations, such as repeat events, should be brought to the attention of a vet. Our East Setauket veterinarians talk about why your cat keeps vomiting and when you should seek emergency veterinary care.

My cat keeps vomiting, are they okay?

Many cats will only throw up once or twice in their life, some may never even experience hairballs. Other cats, however, may suffer from repeated bouts of vomiting. The causes of this vomiting can range from a simple hairball to more serious illnesses and conditions. Some cats may vomit occasionally and you'll never know the underlying reason.

One of the biggest concerns for cats that keep vomiting, especially if a cat keeps vomiting food, is malnourishment. If your cat is suffering from vomiting, no matter the cause, you should reach out to your vet to schedule an examination for your feline friend. If they are vomiting along with other serious accompanying symptoms then you should contact your nearest emergency vet as soon as possible.

Is it vomit or is it a hairball?

If you are trying to determine whether what your cat brought up is vomit or a hairball the easiest way to tell is how it looks. A hairball will be a densely packed, tubular pile of hair with some fluid surrounding it. Vomit on the other hand will be mostly stomach and other fluids occasionally mixed with food.

It can be easy to confuse the acts of vomiting and expelling hairballs as they both require the cat to crouch low and make expulsive sounds.

Why does my cat keep vomiting?

There is a large number of possible causes for vomiting in cats. When considering the causes of vomiting in cats it may be easier to use two categories, acute and chronic. 

Acute Cat Vomiting

The severity of the causes of acute cat vomiting can vary greatly.

Some of the most common causes behind acute vomiting in cats are:

    • Dietary Reasons for Cat Vomiting
    • Treats and Milk
    • Eating Too Fast
    • Consuming Foreign Bodies
    • Toxins or Chemicals
    • Intestinal Parasites
    • Acute Kidney and Liver Failure
    • Gastrointestinal Inflammation and Infection
    • Pancreatitis
    • Certain Human Medications

Chronic Cat Vomiting

Chronic vomiting in cats is often more severe and requires a detailed treatment plan.

Here are some of the common causes of chronic vomiting in cats:

    • Dietary Causes
    • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    • Intestinal Obstruction
    • Neurological Disorders
    • Metabolic and Hormonal Imbalances

What does the color of my cat's vomit mean?

While you may not stop to consider the color at the moment, you should know that the color of your cat's vomit tells you a lot about where the issue is happening.

Here are what each of the colors of vomit mean for your cat:

Brown: The brown can be from regular cat food or treats but also may indicate blood. By using a paper towel to clean up the vomit you may be able to better tell what the cause of the color is.

Green: Green vomit usually occurs if the cat has been eating any type of plant. If your cat is vomiting green it can also indicate that they have been sick on an empty stomach as this color comes from bile.

Yellow: Bile can also cause the vomit to be yellow. Just like green vomit, this usually means that their stomach was empty when they vomited.

Red: Bleeding in your cat's digestive tract may result in red vomit. If this occurs you should contact your vet immediately. This is a veterinary emergency.

Black: Black, tarry vomit that resembles coffee grounds indicates that your cat has blood present. This situation requires immediate emergency veterinary attention.

White: White vomit usually happens when there is foam present. This is not usually serious and can happen when a cat vomits on an empty stomach.

What if my cat keeps vomiting? Should I call the vet?

The following situations all require immediate veterinary care for your cat:

  • Your cat keeps vomiting and has vomited two or more times in a row.
  • You notice that your cat isn't eating or they are experiencing diarrhea. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration if left untreated.
  • If your cat has been vomiting frequently and also hasn't drank water in more than 12 hours.
  • Vomiting in cats that have been diagnosed with a medical condition is considered a veterinary emergency and you should contact your primary vet or nearest emergency vet right away.
  • If your cat has vomited a worm then you should contact your vet right away to have your cat dewormed. If left untreated these intestinal parasites can cause serious harm to your cat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is experiencing repeated bouts of vomiting or diarrhea or if there is blood involved, contact our vets in East Setauket right away.