Having a cat is a big responsibility, which entails not only moments of happiness, but also numerous difficulties each cat owner needs to face, including some possible health issues that your pet struggles with. One of the most common among them is vomiting. Although most cats throw up occasionally, and it is rather normal, severe or regular vomiting should raise concerns, as this may be associated with a wide array of illnesses. Read our article to learn what the most common causes of vomiting in cats are and what you should do to prevent them.

Regurgitation and vomiting

Did you know that there are two ways in which cats can expel gastric contents through their mouth? Knowing the difference between them is helpful in determining what the cause of your cat’s behavior is.

Vomiting

This is a forceful expulsion of the gastric contents from a cat’s stomach. The food the cat vomits is usually accompanied by bile, i.e, a yellow fluid, and water. This suggests that the contents the cat has eaten went to their tummy or intestines. Vomiting is often preceded by a number of different symptoms, such as nausea or retching. A cat can also drool abundantly or vocalize before throwing up.

Regurgitation

On the other hand, regurgitation is a process that involves the expulsion of food from the mouth and esophagus. The contents, which are ejected, are usually undigested and covered with slimy mucus. Regurgitation often occurs right after eating, up to 2 hours following the meal. Since regurgitation is a passive process, it can be unexpected. The cat just lowers their head and all the food accumulated in their throat suddenly falls out.

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Common reasons why your cat vomits or regurgitates

If your cat is vomiting, there are several possible explanations for this phenomenon. Here are some of them:

Eating too fast

Unlike people, cats are unable to control the pace of eating. When a cat is grasping and consumes food too quickly, the stomach does not have enough time to process it all. As a result, the cat regurgitates undigested food shortly after eating too much in a short period of time. If your cat vomits because they eat too quickly, you should do your best to slow down the pace of eating. How can you do this? The easiest will be to split meals into smaller portions. What is more, you can try to use a slow feeder. This is a kind of bowl that prolongs chow time and reduces the chance of vomiting. You can also try puzzle feeders, which are special toys that engage your cat’s attention and encourage them to play in order to get small amounts of cat food.

Allergy

If your cat vomits undigested food regularly, they may be suffering from a food allergy. Some allergens contained in cat food can cause a variety of reactions, including sneezing, red eyes, red skin, runny nose, cough, facial pressure, and vomiting. If your cat throws up regularly because of an allergy, they may lose weight and become lethargic.

If you have a suspicion that your cat has a food allergy, you should immediately schedule a visit at a veterinary clinic. There are several hypoallergenic diets that you can introduce to make your pet feel and look better. Your vet will surely advise you on the choice of products that your little buddy can eat without causing any negative side effects.

Dietary changes

Cats are a type of animal that hates changes. This can also apply to both diet and feeding schedule adjustments. If you usually give your cat the same kind of food at a specific time of the day, they get used to it, and any sudden change in their daily routine can cause vomiting.

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If you want to change your cat’s eating habits, do it slowly and don’t rush. While introducing a new kind of food, gradually lower the amount of currently used food and increase the amount of the new food. If, in turn, you want to change your cat’s feeding time, firstly delay or advance it by a few minutes.

Hairballs

Cats love being clean, and they usually groom themselves all the time. As they clean their fur with the mouth, they often swallow loose and dead hair, which can accumulate in their digestive tract, forming hairballs. These tufts can cause unexpected vomiting. If this happens from time to time, you shouldn’t worry – your cat has to somehow get rid of those hairballs.

If hairballs are painful for your cat, or they throw them up frequently, you should do everything in your power to reduce their amount. Regular brushing is a great way to get rid of loose hair. There are also several dietary supplements that help prevent hairballs in your cat. Ask your vet for advice.

Gastritis

Vomiting may also be a symptom of a disease called gastritis. If your cat regurgitates food and there is bile or blood in the vomit, they may be suffering from the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Other symptoms of this condition include a decrease in appetite, dehydration, and depressed mood. The causes of the illness may be varied, from motility disorders and throat irritation through parasites to obstruction in the intestinal tract. You should definitely bring your cat to the vet if you think that they are suffering from gastritis. It can save their life!

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Grass eating

If you have a cat that goes out, you have probably seen them eat grass. Although some people say that animals eat plants in order to provoke vomiting, the truth is so much more complicated. The behavior is claimed to be instinctual and doesn’t necessarily have to mean that your cat feels sick. The observations prove that the majority of outdoor cats eat grass but don’t throw up. There are, however, some of them who are more prone to the gag reflex, and long grass blades can make them vomit.

What should I do if my cat vomits undigested food?

Some cats tend to throw up more frequently than others. However, if the issue persists, or you spot some other disturbing symptoms such as a lack of energy, coughing, runny nose, overall irritation, take your kitty to the vet as soon as possible. After a checkup, they will be able to diagnose the causes of your cat’s repeated or acute vomiting. Depending on what the veterinarian finds, your cat may be prescribed medications or require hospitalization, e.g., surgery removing the obstruction in the throat.

If the problem of vomiting and regurgitation occurs occasionally, there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce them to a minimum. Firstly, give your cat a bigger number of smaller portions of food, and replace dry food with wet food. Although dry feed is easier to serve, it needs to swell up and requires more time to break down in the stomach. Therefore, your cat can throw it up even hours after eating. What is more, never provide your cat with cold food as it is also more difficult to digest. If you suppose that your cat may be allergic to something, run special tests to learn the cause of the disturbing symptoms.