Is It a Sign My Cat Is Sick if It Throws Up a Lot?

Cats are some of the most beloved pets. They can be affectionate, cuddly, and are fairly low maintenance. That’s why it may be so unexpected to hear the dreaded gagging noise that cats do when they are about to throw up. Vomiting is common among cats and often not a concern that your cat is sick. However, sometimes it’s a signal of a more serious illness.

Acute or Chronic Vomiting in Cats

Chronic vomiting occurs on a regular basis, for example, each month. It could also occur even more frequently. Chronic vomiting also happens over an extended period of time. When a normal, healthy cat vomits repeatedly, unexpectedly, that is acute vomiting. Of the two kinds of vomiting, acute vomiting is usually the worst and likely means you need to see a vet.

It is not always necessary to see a vet if you see that your cat is vomiting. If it is otherwise ok, and you see no other symptoms, just keep a close watch on it. If there are no other symptoms and your cat continues to eat, you do not need to bring it to a hospital, unless you know that she ate something toxic.

Chronic vomiting still needs care, but if you don’t observe listlessness, hiding, an unusual odor, or other symptoms, and your cat is still holding down food, you should still see a vet, but it is not as urgent as with acute vomiting.

Causes of Vomiting in Cats

Acute and chronic vomiting might have the same origins, but there are several exceptions. Toxins are not often the cause of persistent puking (unless a cat is chronically exposed to the same toxin, such as eating a toxic plant). Consuming a foreign substance (often string) is not usually a cause of persistent vomiting, but if the foreign item persists in the stomach, it can be.

There can be a variety of causes for vomiting in cats. Several of these are:

  • Toxins: This includes lilies and the bulbs of daffodils, as well as chemicals
  • Drugs: Anti-inflammatories and antibiotics
  • Diet: Eating dead things like roadkill, dietary intolerance, and foreign bodies

This is obviously not a comprehensive list and there are other possible reasons for your cat’s inability to hold down its stomach contents, like hairballs, allergies, and cancer.

Determining the Cause of Vomiting in Cats

It can be rather tricky to diagnose the reason for your cat’s vomiting. Most cases of vomiting will improve over time. However, it is a good idea to have a general understanding of the kinds of vomit you might observe in your cat, just to be certain that he isn’t experiencing a more serious illness.

Here are some good investigative questions to ask yourself regarding your cat’s history:

  • When did the vomiting begin? 
  • How long has it been going on? 
  • Was he exposed to certain chemicals or plants recently? 
  • What is his diet like? 
  • Does she go out to hunt? 
  • What is the consistency of the vomit – Is it clear or yellow? 
  • Does it have a particularly foul odor?

The more of these questions you can definitively answer, the easier it will be for your veterinarian to diagnose your cat’s condition.