Cleaning piles of stinky vomit probably wasn't part of your plans for the day. But trust your cat when she meows to tell you that coughing up the nastiness was not in her feline planner either. Frequent vomiting often points to a medical condition that may need your vet's intervention.
Diseases and Viruses
Unfortunately, for the purpose of narrowing down the culprits of your kitty's sickness and for her general health, the list of diseases that can cause persistent vomiting seems to go on forever -- liver disease, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, feline distemper, pancreatitis, Cushing's disease and plenty of others. Some diseases have a few similar symptoms. In the case of inflammatory bowel disease, ongoing bouts of diarrhea and vomiting serve as the primary symptoms. Those same symptoms appear in kitties suffering from liver disease, although the felines often show more dramatic weight loss, have a straggly coat and may appear lethargic. Feline distemper also causes diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and a worn-looking coat.
Unlike those awful diseases, hairballs are fairly easy to identify if they're causing all the trouble. Despite their name, hairballs don't normally look like balls at all. They look like short, thick strings of undigested hair covered in bile and other unfaltering fluids. If you have a short-haired cat, he's less likely to suffer from frequent hairballs than long-haired cats who aren't brushed or groomed regularly. Hairballs are usually absent of other symptoms, aside from the initial retching.
The food your kitty eats can cause vomiting in a few ways. If she's allergic to her meals, she may throw them back up. If the food is spoiled, her body will throw a fit and she'll vomit and likely experience diarrhea. If she eats something that causes health problems for kitties, such as garlic, chives or grapes, she may have a soft stool and create plenty of vomit puddles on your floor. Some foods, especially grapes and chocolate, can cause life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures, paralysis and even a coma. If her curiosity gets the best of her and she eats non-food items, such as grass, paper, plastic or cardboard, her body may react by making her toss those things right back out, especially if she eats them in large numbers. The frequent vomiting will stop once the food in question is out of her system, although it will promptly return should she devour it again.
The presence of blood in your kitty's vomit usually indicates she's bleeding internally. The blood may appear bright red or a dark, blackish red. She'll also likely have blackish diarrhea, and she may react in pain if you place a small amount of pressure on an area of her body, such as her stomach, that's bleeding. Reasons for internal bleeding include trauma, ulcers, wearing of the esophagus and something your cat ingested, such as aluminum foil. If your cat ever vomits blood, visit your vet or an animal hospital immediately.
Other conditions can also cause your cat to frequently vomit. An upset stomach, parasites, intestinal blockage, clotting disorder, esophagus problems and tumors have all been known to cause vomiting. Home remedies to keep your kitty from puking include brushing your kitty once a day and keeping dangerous foods and non-food items out of reach. Any time your cat experiences frequent vomiting, take her to your vet. Vomiting is nothing to play around with. The many serious conditions that cause vomiting can often be remedied or at least treated so they aren't severe, but only if you catch them in time. And it's impossible for you to determine what condition your kitty may be suffering from. Diagnosis often involves imaging and tests that only your vet can perform.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.