Cats can vomit for a number of reasons, and in general it should not be too much of a concern for the owner. Vomiting, for example, occurs with healthy cats so there is no simple answer as to why. The first step to take is to determine if your cat is otherwise healthy.
Happy cat, happy vomiter
Vomiting is totally natural in cats, especially when you take into account how they usually eat in the wild. Cats will eat small creatures such as mice whole, including the bones, fur, and stomach contents in order to prevent other cats from stealing or having a share of their meal. As you can guess, some parts of the mouse such as the bones cannot be digested and thus have to be vomited out at a later time. Sometimes you will see a cat eating grass or plants in order to stimulate and bring about vomiting but this does not necessarily mean the cat is sick; cats can be healthy and eat grass at the same time.
Actually, their physiology is optimal for vomiting so it does not cause them too much harm.
It is important to keep your eye on your cat, though, because vomiting several times a week or multiple times in a day may show signs of sickness or ill health. In these cases, it is just as important to take action immediately and contact your cat’s vet.
Vomiting is not a sickness in itself, but rather a symptom or side effect of a sickness or more serious disease. Stomach illnesses such as gastric ulcers, swallowing a small toy, or having a hairball for example, can cause vomiting, as can worms since it irritates the lining of the stomach. The top sicknesses that cause vomiting include pancreatitis, kidney disease, liver disease, overactive thyroid glands, cancer, and/or diabetes; all of which require a veterinary exam in order to diagnose.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to pay close attention to your cat’s health and behavior, and to recognize when a symptom is prevalent or occurs frequently enough to warrant a visit to the vet.
Things to consider
It is no question that you should bring your cat to the vet if it is suffering in any way, but in the case of vomiting, there are a couple of things to think about beforehand.
Is my cat dehydrated?
Cats, just like other pets and even humans, will suffer from fluid loss while vomiting and become dehydrated. There is an easy way to check if this is the case: simply lift the skin gently off the body and release it. If your cat is well hydrated, the skin will snap right back like an elastic band, but if it is dehydrated the skin will take a couple of moments to return back to place.
Are there any missing or half chewed toys around?
Vomiting is common with cats who accidentally swallow small objects. Look around your house to see if there are any half chewed toys, and if so, take your cat to the vet immediately. Vomiting aside, swallowing objects can be fatal if it reaches the intestine.
Is my cat vaccinated?
Cats that are not vaccinated may still be at risk, even if it stays mainly indoors since diseases such as feline panleucopaenia can be tracked into the home by way of your shoes. This should be a concern for owners who notice that their cat turned quiet and was refusing food prior to vomiting.
Was my cat recently wormed?
Worms, as stated above, can irritate the stomach lining, causing your cat to vomit; worms also robs essential nutrients which makes the coat dry. It is important to keep your cat on a deworming schedule, and to take it to the vet if it is noticeably dull, listless, or refusing food.
What kind of meds is my cat on?
Like humans, there is always a risk of experiencing side effects when taking medication. You should contact your vet if your cat is taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for pain since this may be the cause. Another common side effect of NSAIDs are gastric ulcers, which can also cause vomiting.
Definite signs to see the vet
Though it really depends on the circumstance, you should take your cat to the vet if they are vomiting for an extended period of time (every hour for 5 hours, or once a day for five days, for example). Another warning sign is your cat refusing to eat; cats typically still eat when they have a hairball so experiencing a loss of appetite is definitely a factor to be concerned about. Depression, or acting out of character is another important behavior to keep an eye on.
In terms of health and bodily functions, it is important to know whether there is blood present in your cat’s vomit or stool. Also, keep an eye on what your cat ingests because they will vomit or become seriously sick if they ingest substances that are toxic to them such as antifreeze or lily pollen. Dehydration, as stated above, is also a huge concern when your cat vomits; use the method explained above to check. It is most important, however, to just trust your instincts. If you have a feeling that your cat, or any pet in general, is sick, take them to the vet immediately!
Now that all the worrying is said and done, there is still the mess your cat left that you need to clean up. If it is solid, simply wear latex gloves and use a paper towel to scoop everything up; if it is liquid, first use paper towels to blot the excess. In both cases, you should finish it off with a pet-safe deodorizing cleaner which will disinfect and refresh the area. Two types of products you can look for are biological washing powders which you can mix with water, and soda bicarbonate, or baking soda, which absorbs liquids and can be easily swept away.