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Cat throwing up food after eating: Vet's guide to causes and treatment

Cat eating
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve ever wondered why your cat is throwing up food after eating, you definitely aren’t alone. Cats are secretive animals that often try to hide any signs of illness, but vomiting after eating is definitely one to watch. 

While some causes aren’t a concern, others are – so let’s look at cat vomit and when to see your vet.

Why is my cat throwing up after eating?

Your cat could be throwing up after eating for a number of reasons. Some are benign, like eating too fast, whilst others are a sign of illness that shouldn’t be ignored.

Cats might vomit after eating for the following reasons:

If your cat is vomiting after eating every meal and isn’t keeping food down, that’s a suggestion of something very serious going on. On the other hand, cats that vomit occasionally after eating but otherwise seem well are less likely to be seriously ill. 

Despite this, it’s important that you keep an eye on your cat even if they seem to be well, as vomiting cats can deteriorate quickly.

Why is my cat throwing up food but acting normal?

Cats are secretive creatures and often they’ll try to act normal no matter how sick they feel. If your cat is throwing up food but still acting normal they could still have a serious problem. It’s best to get your cat checked out if they’re throwing up their food, even if they’re acting normally.

cat throwing up food after eating

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why does my cat only throw up wet or dry food?

Sometimes you’ll notice your cat will only be sick with one type of food. This could be due to an intolerance with the food, but usually it’s a simpler explanation. For many felines, wet cat food is a favorite. 

Whilst they’ll graze on dry food all day, they’ll scarf down any wet food you provide as soon as it goes down – and then vomit it back up again. Try to work out if your cat throws up with all wet foods, or whether it’s a particular brand or flavor. You might want to look into slow feeders to stop your cat from eating so fast and vomiting after.

When should I be concerned about my cat vomiting?

With so many reasons your cat might be vomiting, knowing what to do if your cat is throwing up is key. The frequency of vomiting is important – if your cat vomits after eating just once, or it’s a rare occurrence (once a month or less often), then you can monitor them and bring it up with your vet at their next appointment. 

If your cat is vomiting after eating at least once a week, you should book an appointment to visit your vet. And if your cat is vomiting more than once a day, or is unable to keep food down, you should make an urgent appointment with your veterinarian. 

The other thing you should look at is whether your cat has any other symptoms of being ill. If your cat is throwing up after eating but is otherwise acting normal, it’s unlikely to be an emergency, but you should still book a check-up with your vet if it’s more frequent than once a month. 

On the other hand, even if your cat is vomiting infrequently you should visit the vet if they have other signs such as lethargy, diarrhea, or a poor appetite.

When to visit your vet

It’s important to visit your vet if your cat shows any of the following signs alongside throwing up after eating:

  • Poor appetite 
  • Hungry all the time
  • Weight loss
  • Drinking more
  • Urinating more
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea

In addition, you should trust your instincts. If you’re worried about your cat, take them to the veterinarian for a check up, even if the vomiting is infrequent and they seem otherwise fine.

cat throwing up food after eating

(Image credit: Getty)

How to stop my cat from throwing up after eating

It’s hard to stop a cat from throwing up after eating unless you can find the cause of the problem. But for many cats, an identifiable cause is never found. 

Once you and your vet have ruled out some of the more serious diseases that can cause throwing up after eating, it may be that there are some things you can try at home to stop your cat from throwing up.

Home remedies for cat vomiting

It’s really important that you rule out dangerous causes of cat vomiting at your vet’s office before you try home remedies for vomiting cats. Never reach for over-the-counter medication, as many human medications are toxic to cats.

‘Scarf and barf’ is common, so for many cats the cause of the vomiting is eating too much, too quickly. This sometimes happens with a particular flavour or type of food if your cat particularly enjoys one flavor over another. In this case, slowing your cat’s eating down is key. You can try a slow feeder cat bowl or an anti-vomit cat bowl to see whether this makes any difference to your cat’s vomiting.

If stress could be the cause, consider ways to help your cat deal with their anxiety. Providing hiding places and reducing changes around the house can help your cat to relax and keep their food down!

Do anti vomit or slow feeder cat bowls work?

Slow feeder cat bowls can work to slow down a cat’s eating and therefore prevent them from vomiting if they like to ‘scarf and barf’. It’s unclear whether raised cat bowls can prevent vomiting too – there’s no scientific evidence that anti-vomit cat bowls work.

Summary

Getting to the bottom of why your cat is throwing up after eating can be difficult. Luckily, there are many non-serious causes of cats vomiting after food so, once your vet has given you the go ahead, you can try some of these home remedies for cat vomiting to see if they help.

After graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham, Dr Joanna Woodnutt went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She quickly developed a love of consulting and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behaviour and nutrition - anything that involved helping clients understand their pets better. Jo started writing about pet health in 2017, realising that it meant she could help even more pet parents. Since then, she has written for countless online and print publications and is a regular contributor for Edition Dog Magazine. Jo now lives in the Channel Islands with her husband Ian and terrier Pixie, and they are expecting their first child very soon.