Is it Normal for a Cat to Vomit?

Help Fluffy with her grooming to prevent her from vomiting up hairballs.

Help Fluffy with her grooming to prevent her from vomiting up hairballs.

While the appearance of the occasional hairball on your floor may be unpleasant, it's perfectly normal for your kitty. However, if your furry friend is vomiting up food, furballs or fluids on a daily basis, something more serious may be going on, requiring a trip to the vet.

Vomiting vs. Regurgitation

Not all spitting up is due to vomiting. When your nauseous kitty licks her lips and then retches out the contents of her tummy and intestines, she is vomiting. If she simply spits up the food she has recently eaten, this comes from her esophagus, the tube that connects the tummy and mouth, according to the Veterinary Associates Animal Hospital. It's important to differentiate between the two very similar actions, because different conditions are associated with either vomiting or regurgitation.

The Dreaded Hairball

One of the most common causes of vomiting in your feline friends is due to the accumulation of hair in their tummies and small intestines, which they swallow when grooming themselves, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If Fluffy hacks up a hairball no more than once a week, she's probably not in any serious distress. Help prevent these icky surprises by brushing your kitty regularly and feeding her a hairball preventative gel one to two times per week. Frequent vomiting of hairballs or continued retching isn't normal and needs veterinary attention, recommends The Cat Care Centre.

Causes of Vomiting

Besides the accumulation of hair in the stomach, there are many reasons why your kitty might be vomiting, ranging from minor to serious. Your curious kitty could have eaten something she shouldn't have that made her sick or could be allergic to the food you're feeding her. If you see parasites in the vomit, they could be the cause. In addition, pancreatitis, gastritis, stomach ulcers, liver or kidney failure and some neurological conditions can all cause chronic vomiting, according to the ASPCA.

Visiting the Vet

Chronic vomiting, more than once a week or vomiting that results in blood or bile coming up require veterinary care. Your vet will check for signs of illness by performing a physical exam, blood tests and X-rays to see what's behind your kitty's vomiting. He may also need to perform an endoscopy to see inside the stomach or an exploratory surgical procedure called a laparotomy to take biopsies or remove any obstructions from this area, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. If he finds your kitty in good health, he may simply provide your feline friend with some supportive care in the form of intravenous fluids and a restricted or bland diet.


Whether your kitty regurgitates her food after eating too quickly or regularly spits up hairballs, this behavior isn't normal. Feed your furry friend frequent small meals throughout the day to prevent rapid eating. Brush your kitty daily so that hair doesn't wind up in her tummy. Chronic vomiting is a serious condition that requires care by your vet because it can quickly lead to dehydration, especially if it lasts more than 24 hours, warns WebMD. While vomiting is unpleasant, you might want to grab your phone or camera and record a video of your kitty in the act, if you can. Showing it to your vet could help him with his diagnosis, recommends the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images