Cat owners have simply come to accept a few truths about their feline friends. Your cat can go from sucking on a blanket and purring contentedly to savagely attacking and biting you at any moment. But, just because your cat stalks you around the house and watches you while you sleep doesn’t mean that they secretly want to eat you (or does it?).
And, from time to time, your cat will hork up something nasty on the rug.
Of course, that final fact of feline life might have some cat owners asking, “why does my cat keep throwing up?” Is it something that conscientious cat owners should be worried about?
Let’s roll up our sleeves (and maybe put on some gloves) and get into why cats throw up.
Some Vomiting Is Normal and Expected
A common refrain in veterinarian offices and pet-centric internet forums is, “my cat keeps throwing up but seems fine.”
What’s up with that?
Well, the fact is, cats throwing up once every month or so is totally normal. In fact, it’s a good thing.1 Humans have it easy because we don’t need to clean ourselves with scratchy sandpaper tongues. If we did, we might be a little more understanding about cats puking on the couch.
Yes, we’re talking about hairballs. When a cat cleans itself, it ends up ingesting clumps of its own hair. That hair isn’t digested. Instead, it sits in the cat’s stomach, marinated in bile and digestive fluids. Eventually, that wad of hair is coming back up! This is healthy behavior for our feline friends, even if it’s not the most pleasant thing to clean up.
If your cat isn’t occasionally bringing up a hairball, that might be cause for concern. Undigested hair can lead to blockages in your cat’s intestine, which can be a life-threatening health condition. Of course, the opposite is also true: if your cat is bringing up hairballs every week, there might be something wrong with their digestion.
Now that we understand the most basic answer to the question “why do cats throw up?” let’s take a look at some other situations to be mindful of.
Potential Causes for Feline Vomiting
Sometimes the answer to the question “why is my cat throwing up?” is more complicated than a simple hairball.
Is your cat throwing up more often than once every two weeks or so? Does the substance and consistency of their vomit not seem like a hairball to you? If that’s the case, something else might be going on with your feline buddy.
Some common reasons that your cat might be throwing up include:
- Eating certain human foods
- Ingesting toxic plants or foreign objects
- Feeling uncertain or panicked
- Inflammatory bowel disease
We’ll break down some of those situations in more detail below. If you’re concerned about your cat’s vomiting, a trip to the veterinarian is always a good idea. When preparing for a visit to your vet, it’s wise to keep a log of what your cat has been eating and note any exposure they might have had to potentially harmful substances.
Was It Something I Ate?
As we all know, cats are notoriously independent creatures. It can be challenging to keep track of what they’re doing as they slink around your home and maybe even slip outside to prowl the neighborhood.
However, if your cat is experiencing frequent vomiting that doesn’t include hair, it becomes imperative to keep track of what they’re eating and how often.
Cats are naturally playful and curious, so anything on the floor is fair game to get pounced on, chewed, and possibly digested. Be mindful of foreign objects left laying around, and make sure to kitty-proof your living space as best as possible.
Also, some houseplants can make cats sick, so be sure to do some research before introducing any new greenery to your space.
Outdoor Cats Love Grass… Even If It Makes Them Sick
If you have an outdoor cat, it might be common for them to eat grass. We don’t truly understand why these little furballs love chowing down on the lawn.
Some researchers theorize that they’re after specific vitamins in the grass, that it soothes sore throats, or that the cats are trying to induce vomiting because they need to get something else out.2
Whatever the reason, eating grass is a common reason for kitty throw-up.
Allergies and Sensitive Stomachs
However, suppose you’ve got a secluded indoor cat that never gets closer to the outdoors than peering longingly through the screen door. In that case, there might be another dietary reason your cat is throwing up, as cats are prone to sensitive stomachs and allergies.
The most common allergens for cats include:
- Meat: Poultry, beef, turkey, lamb—cats are known to experience allergies to any and all meats, although fish allergies tend to be extremely rare.
- Lactose: Kitties lapping up saucers of milk is such a familiar image that it’s almost a cliche. Ironically, adult cats cannot digest lactose, so it should be avoided in their diets, no matter how adorable it looks.
Soy and eggs are also other common allergies. Typically, vomiting due to a food allergy will be accompanied by diarrhea. When your cat is suffering from those symptoms, it might be time to experiment with a new food, perhaps one specially formulated for a sensitive stomach.
Maybe It’s Not What They Ate, But How They Ate It
The most common cause of vomiting in cats (even more so than hairballs) is gorging.3 That occurs when your cat overeats or eats too fast.
If you’re giving your cat access to food all day and they are rewarding you with a lot of vomiting, it might be time to change some habits:
- Schedule meal times – Instead of giving your cat ready access to their food, make prearranged meal times throughout the day. Consider trying more frequent feeding but with smaller portions.
- Slow down their eating – If your cat is eating so fast that they’re throwing up, you might start employing a food puzzle to make their meals last longer (and slowly train them to become a cat genius). Or, you could simply feed your cat on a flat surface so that it takes longer for them to get a mouthful.
- Maintain a low-stress environment – If your cat is eating fast, they might be stressed out by what’s happening around them. Try feeding your cat in a solitary, quiet place where they won’t have to worry about competing with other animals.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats
If your cat’s vomiting persists even after changes in food, they might be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD has a range of causes in cats, although the specific reason is often difficult to pinpoint. They include:
- Bacterial infection from a blockage – As we mentioned above, this can happen when your cat gets something lodged in their intestines, whether a wad of their hair or a foreign object.
- Parasitic infection from worms or single-celled parasites – In addition to the symptoms we’ve already discussed, cats enduring a parasite may also take on a potbelly appearance.
You will need a veterinarian’s help to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease. The treatment from there will vary depending on the cat’s symptoms and may include changes to diet, introducing a dewormer, or other supplements and medications.
Stressed Out Kitties
As we referenced above, cats can be sensitive creatures who are very easily disturbed by environmental changes. Research suggests that cats can vomit—and refuse food or defecate outside their litter box—simply because they’re feeling anxious.
If this is the case, ask yourself:
- Did I recently move or otherwise change my cat’s routine?
- Has a caretaker been away for a long time?
- Am I currently hosting guests, or have the vibes in my home been more chaotic than usual?
- Have I recently introduced a new pet to the household or had one depart?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then stress could be what is causing your cat’s vomiting.
Patience and care are needed in situations like these. Your cat might also benefit from specific dietary supplements that will help them mellow out, such as CBD for cats.
CBD may help your cat feel more at ease in unfamiliar situations.
Less Puking, More Purring, With Canna-Pet® CBD for Cats
Hopefully, you better understand why your cat is throwing up but otherwise may seem fine. Sometimes, the explanation can be as simple as a weekly hairball. But, in other situations, it’s important to remain vigilant to ensure our purring pals stay in tip-top shape.
For cats suffering from stress, digestive issues, or aches, CBD capsules from Canna-Pet® can help improve their quality of life. Our CBD capsules and tinctures can be especially beneficial for elderly cats, who also tend to experience more digestive difficulties. And pet parents can rest assured that Canna-Pet® products contain veterinarian-recommended, organic hemp.
Help improve your cat’s overall well-being—and maybe cut down on the amount of vomit you’re cleaning out of your slippers—by trying Canna-Pet® CBD capsules today.
- Cornell Feline Health Center. Vomiting. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/vomiting
- Greencross Vets. Why Do Cats Eat Grass? https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/pet-library/articles-of-interest/why-do-cats-eat-grass/
- Great Pet Care. Why Is My Cat Throwing Up Food? https://www.greatpetcare.com/cat-nutrition/why-is-my-cat-throwing-up-food/
- Science Daily. Even Healthy Cats Act Sick When Their Routine is Disrupted. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110103110357.htm