If you live with a cat, you have most likely had to clean up some vomit from time to time. Vomiting in cats can be a sign of various health conditions. Many cat parents may disregard vomiting and label it as a typical or normal cat behavior but it’s important to know that it’s not normal. Vomiting means something is wrong. The cause could be serious or minor but it definitely means your attention is required.
If your cat is vomiting it’s important to determine the cause as it could indicate a potential medical problem.
The Difference Between Vomiting and Regurgitation
Regurgitation involves bringing undigested food back up out of the mouth or esophagus that hasn’t reached the stomach. Vomiting involves expelling the contents of the stomach up through the mouth.
Potential Reasons for Vomiting
Cats groom frequently and as a result, hair gets swallowed. The backward-facing barbs on the cat’s tongue prevent him from spitting out the hair so he has no choice but to swallow it. The hair may pass through the system without issue and get eliminated in the stool. Hairballs may also not pass easily in the intestines and they could cause a blockage. Sometimes though, the accumulating hair doesn’t make it through the stomach and gets vomited back up. When a cat vomits up a hairball it typically appears as a cylindrical shape. If your cat frequently vomits hairballs it indicates there’s a problem. The cat may be grooming more than usual due to stress, a medical issue, pain, parasites, or simply because he isn’t getting brushed at all.
There are OTC hairball prevention products available to help hairballs go through the cat’s system more smoothly but you should first talk with your veterinarian because there may an underlying cause for the hairball vomiting that needs to be addressed medically.
This can be the result of making an abrupt change in the cat’s diet, whether that includes changing brands or types. Dietary changes should be gradual to give the cat’s system time to adjust. It also decreases the chances of the cat rejecting the food. Vomiting may also occur if a change in diet includes an ingredient that causes stomach irritation.
During the holidays, it’s not uncommon for cats to end up vomiting due to ingestion of rich foods that are either given to them by dinner guests or due to grabbing food that has been left out.