Some cats don’t chew dry cat food pellets

Dry cat food vomit

Some cats swallow dry cat food pellets whole rather than chew them sufficiently. This is my experience. Certainly my cat does this. When he first ate some dry cat food he threw the whole lot up about ten minutes later. Now when he eats it, he still tends to swallow the pellets whole – like hoovering it up – but is no longer sick. That worries me slightly.

My theory is that when a cat hoovers up dry cat food pellets they irritate the stomach and are immediately thrown up.

Above is a picture provided by a friend whose cat eats dry cat food in the “hoovering” fashion. You can see the vomited up pellets are more of less still whole. She kindly placed some original pellets next to the sick for comparison. The ham in the picture was used to try and get her cat to take a pill. In my view that is not relevant to this discussion.

I have not seen much discussion on the internet about this subject. I have a feeling it is not uncommon for cats to suck up rather than masticate dry cat food pellets. They are small enough. I don’t think cat food manufacturers foresaw this problem. It is a problem because:

  • Chewing food is part of the digestion process. It prepares food for digestion in the stomach and
  • It is claimed that dry cat food cleans teeth. Not chewing it avoids this potential benefit.
  • There may be unforeseen health problems in the digestive tract. I don’t know enough to comment on that but swallowing pellets in large quantities can’t be good for the stomach and intestine if the cat does not throw them up.

I think too that there may be a dust element. What I mean is that there are always a certain amount of small particles of dry cat food in the bag. I refer to these as dust. They get hoovered up too and irritate the stomach. There would seem to be a danger of these particles getting into the lungs.

Have you had similar experiences? Incidentally, I don’t believe in dry cat food but leave some out for my cat at night for grazing.

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Some cats don’t chew dry cat food pellets — 10 Comments

  1. We leave a saucer of dry food in Barbara’s room for Walter to graze on, he always crunches his up, but Jozef starts out crunching but then sometimes swallows some whole then gags them back up, so his are rationed to just a few.
    But we call him our ‘greedy pig’ as he often goes ‘vacuuming’ around eating bits and cleaning up after Walter who shoves some of his food over the edge of his saucer. We tried putting his food in a dish but he made it obvious he didn’t like it that way lol
    When you see those biscuits swelled up in water it’s frightening to think of them like that in cats insides!

  2. This article could be about Monty. I think the dry food expands as it gets wet in his stomach and then takes up too much room, hence the barfing. The amount that can be hoovered in is more than can be digested. If Charlie doesn’t barf up the unchewed biscuits I think the worst that would happen is constipation. That and he will not get the full nutritional benefit from the biscuits which pass through him whole or nearly whole. He could get diarrhea as his body tries to pass those big lumps. It’s less than ideal, but I don’t think it would hurt him. Cats are amazing in their ability to clear their GI tract of whatever is in there. Monty eats a bunch of leaves, grass, sticks, bugs, you name it, and I see that in his poopy after he’s had a lot of outside time. I figure a few whole biscuits is nothing compared to his treating the back yard as an all you can eat buffet. I don’t give him dry food anymore, except recently when we were going to be gone up north. I borrowed some from Jen for Monty’s food timer, so that could open and give him his breakfast very early in the morning. He barfed the biscuits. Jen cleaned up one puke pile and I had one waiting for me when I got home. Next time he can wait for breakfast, the little glutton.

    • I am interested in your comment, Ruth. Thank you. It seems that Monty hoovers the kibble too. I wonder how common it is? At one time I thought that it was just Charlie and a few other cats but the more I investigate the matter the more cats there are who don’t eat dry cat food properly. It must be wrong to not chew food and swallow it whole especially when it is hard.

      I wonder if the manufacturers should make the pellets bigger? I might do a page on that.

  3. At one time we bought some star shaped biscuits and I sat and broke them up into small pieces for Jozef, thinking if he wouldn’t crunch them himself that would maybe work, but it didn’t, he wouldn’t even look at them lol
    I’d be worried with even bigger biscuits than they make now in case a cat still swallowed them whole and choked.
    I worry about those dogs next door to us now, they only get dry food and quite often they spill their water into the food dish or it rains on it (the food is in their open topped run joined to their kennel) they are swelled up in the dish. He asked us to look after them one weekend and we gave the dishes a good clean out and I politely pointed it out to him that the food was unpalatable but was told dogs eat if they’re hungry, take it or leave it, they get no more until the dish is empty. Poor things, he hasn’t asked us since, just goes and leaves them, apparently he was reported at his previous home but the RSPCA don’t want to know because they are fed and sheltered.

    • I’d be worried with even bigger biscuits than they make now in case a cat still swallowed them whole and choked.

      Good point. I think the biscuits should be bigger but dry cat food is basically unnatural so whatever the size it is a fail. Cats have difficulty dealing with it.

  4. Lilly half hoovers and half chews – the other 2 chew. Gigi sometimes eats too quickly and throws up and I always bring them fresh grasses everyday so sometimes one of them throw up from that.

  5. My cat seems to trow up these things. I think it’s indeed related to the dry food as she’s still young and I recently switched over from kitten food to dry normal catfood. It’s just food that is undigested.

    • Hi Pieter, thanks for visiting and sharing. On the basis that your cat is well and not ill then as you say she vomited up the dry food pellets because they irritated her stomach due to not being masticated by teeth and saliva.

      I’d stick to high quality we food and semi-moist foods.

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