What Causes My Cat to Throw Up Food?

Cat Eating Out of a Bowl

Vomiting is seen as a general symptom. It could be linked to a number of health issues. Unprocessed food in the vomit of your cat may indicate a serious disease. Hairballs, internal blockages, pancreatitis, eating too rapidly, constipation, indigestion, parasite infections, poisoning, stress, melancholy, and even anxiety are a few of these that may occur. Before obtaining veterinarian assistance, if necessary, it is essential to understand the precise cause of your cat's food vomiting and how to manage it.

What Is the Difference Between Vomiting and Regurgitation?

The distinction between regurgitation and genuine vomiting can assist your veterinarian determine the reason of your pet's vomiting by preventing it from being mistaken for the former. Regurgitation is sometimes confused with vomiting, however unlike vomited food, it has not yet been broken down by the stomach's acids.

What is Vomiting?

Vomiting is the act of ejecting the contents of the stomach, which may include food, water, and/or bile. An active process, vomiting is frequently accompanied by retching, nausea, and tightness of the abdominal muscles (heaving). Prior to vomiting, the cat may frequently vocalize, drool, or start retching.

Contrarily, regurgitation solely includes the contents of the mouth or esophagus. There is no abdominal effort, and food, drink, or other ingested substances do not reach the stomach before coming back up. There is no vocalizing or retching during the passive process of regurgitation; instead, the cat just lowers its head and lets food or other objects fall out. Within 30 to 2 hours after eating, regurgitation is frequent.

Common Causes of Your Cat Vomiting or Regurgitating

Your Cat Is Eating Too Fast

Some cats may eat excessively rapidly, which can lead to regurgitation of partially digested food. You may slow your cat down by feeding it from a food puzzle toy. For your cat, food puzzles may be a terrific source of entertainment and enrichment. More and more artificial food puzzles are being sold on the market to pique your cat's foraging and predatory tendencies. However, a cat who frequently throws up its food can also benefit from food puzzles since they slow down the chow time so the cat can't eat too rapidly and then become ill from it. Consult your veterinarian if your cat regularly eats from puzzle feeders but is still throwing up food.

Food Allergies

As mentioned above, some cats may eat too quickly or may have food allergies. Your cat may be vomiting up partially digested or undigested food if they frequently "scarf and barf" or if they have intestinal allergies. If your veterinarian has checked out all other medical conditions and believes that the vomit your cat is producing is food, they can advise you to try feeding your cat a commercial food formulated for sensitive systems. They might wish to switch your cat on a strict, hydrolyzed protein diet if they are still having trouble with food vomiting while on this specific diet.

The majority of cats that have food allergies are really allergic to protein rather than any other nutrient. A meal that has been hydrolyzed means that the protein has been disassembled into its constituent amino acid components. This stops your cat from developing allergy symptoms and stops your cat's immune system from detecting the food as containing an allergen.


Cats are naturally very clean creatures, and they spend a significant portion of their day grooming. Tiny hook-like structures on your cat's tongue snag loose and dead hair when they groom themselves, and the hair is subsequently ingested. The bulk of hair moves through the digestive system without any issues, however occasionally hair becomes stuck in the stomach and forms a hairball.

Undigested food may be vomited up by a cat due to hairballs or as a result of them. Even while a cat sometimes vomiting a hairball is common and not cause for alarm, it's vital to remember that your cat shouldn't experience frequent, unpleasant, or challenging hairballs. There are over-the-counter nutritional supplements, available in chewable or gel form, that can aid in the prevention of cat hairballs. Get rid of any loose fur in your cat's coat that they may otherwise eat by adopting a regular brushing routine and making your cat comfortable with brushing.

Food and Dietary Changes 

When there is a change in your cat's feeding schedule, if your cat misses a meal, or eats later than normal, your cat may regurgitate undigested food.

You could also have changed your cat's diet too rapidly. It is advised to gradually reduce the amount of the existing cat food while increasing the amount of the new cat food when switching your cat's diet over a period of one to two weeks.

If your cat eats too rapidly, it could regurgitate partially digested food. Although it's unlikely that your cat may vomit after eating too much, giving it smaller, more frequent meals may be helpful. In order to make sure your cat is not being fed excessively and is receiving the nourishment they require, you should also discuss how much you feed with your veterinarian.


It's likely that your cat has upset their stomach with anything they've eaten if they tend to get into things they shouldn't. In addition to vomiting bile and/or blood, this can also result in the vomiting of undigested food. Additionally, your cat can be displaying a decline in appetite, a downcast demeanor, lethargy, or dehydration. If your cat is throwing up due to gastritis, your veterinarian will know just what to do.

Some other causes can include:

  • Motility disorders
  • Esophageal irritation
  • Parasites
  • Constipation
  • An obstruction of foreign material in the intestinal tract

What Should You Do If Your Cat Is Vomiting Undigested Food?

It should be emphasized that while some cat owners may refer to their cat as "puke-y," frequent vomiting is never typical for cats. Vomiting more frequently than once per week is unquestionably a concern. Start feeding your cat using puzzle toys and/or feed them more frequently in smaller amounts if they are throwing up undigested food. Make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible if you notice your cat is vomiting up food repeatedly, along with additional signs including lack of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, or diarrhea.

Your veterinarian will first do a physical examination, monitoring your cat's vital signs and palpating its tummy. Your veterinarian may also wish to do additional tests, like as blood work and X-rays, following a thorough inspection. Blood testing will examine your cat's red blood cell and platelet counts as well as their function, checking for any indications of liver or renal problems. An X-ray examination will look for any abdominal fluid that may be blood, and it might also reveal intestinal gas patterns that might point to a blockage.


Your cat may need hospitalization for fluid therapy and supportive care, or they may only need outpatient treatments and oral meds to go home, depending on what your veterinarian discovers. Your cat could need surgery to have the obstruction removed if your veterinarian thinks it to be an intestinal blockage.

How to Prevent Vomiting in Cats

There are a few things you can do to stop vomiting in cats, depending on the cause. Feeding your cat smaller meals more frequently may be helpful if they are eating too rapidly. Additionally, you should see your vet to make sure your cat is receiving the proper nutrition and isn't being overfed. Try over-the-counter nutritional supplements in chew or gel form as well as a regular brushing regimen if the vomiting is being caused by a hairball. Consult your veterinarian about a specific diet if you think you may have food allergies.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


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