Cat Keeps Vomiting On Two Year Old Child

This is a “cat problem” posted on the Reddit website seeking advice. It has received hundreds of comments in response, all of which are rubbish. Most are just jokes. The remainder recommend punishing the cat. Unfortunately, this is so typical. I wonder why Yahoo bought Reddit for a billion bucks!?

Anyway I thought I’d try and provide some advice.

The detail is hard to come by, which may be the problem in working out decent advice . This is the situation in brief:

A child of 2 years of age sits in his playroom. The child has apparently stopped being interested in the family cat. The cat goes up to the child, meows and tries to nuzzle against the child’s face and neck. The child pushes the cat away. When he does that the cat immediately throws up on him, then goes to the adult child carer for attention. The child carer asks, “why is she puking on the baby”, and how can she stop it?

My Response

Note: these are instant thoughts. They are not researched because I am not sure that research will help.

First Idea

There is no connection between the child’s actions  – pushing the cat away – and the cat being sick. This is a distinct possibility. It may the case that the cat comes from the kitchen where she eats. Then she wanders into the playroom to meet up with her baby friend who no longer wants to be a friend and at that moment she vomits because the food has irritated her stomach. It is a coincidence that the cat vomits over the child, sometimes. It has happened more than once because cats follow pretty strict routines. The child carer, the person who asks for advice, has put two and two together and come up with five.

I have never heard of a cat vomiting because she was pushed away by someone. If I am correct the cure is to take the cat to the vet for a check up and to change her food. An ideas that people have about punishing the cat are ridiculous.

Second Idea

An alternative idea is this. The cat has hairballs and/or hair on her windpipe. The child pushes the cat in the abdomen and/or chest. This causes the cat to start retching up the hairballs. She produces froth and perhaps some hair or some grass if she has eaten grass. If a cat is on the edge of vomiting up hairballs or grass, pushing the cat in the stomach can set off a vomiting reaction.

Third Idea

The cat has an obstruction somewhere in her intestines. She copes with it but it needs to be dealt with and has not been seen to. This makes the intestines sensitive.

The baby pushes the cat away in the body or stomach area, which aggravates the inflammed intestines. The cat vomits in response.


Advice: Just do the obvious and have your cat checked out by a veterinarian if she is vomiting regularly and routinely. In the meantime keep the cat away from the baby. Common sense I guess. Also make sure this cat is actually doing what you say she is doing. The child’s carer is implying, in her question, that the cat’s vomiting is routine and linked to the child’s behavior. This needs to be checked carefully.

Note: the picture has no relationship to the cat problem referred to. It is just here to illustrate the page and for SEO reasons.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • My ragdoll cat 11 years old and in the last month he has started defecating on the bed and furniture and will do it right in front of you. tying to figure out why?? I keep the liter box cleaned daily and sometimes twice a day and nothing has changed around the house Please help me with any suggestions

    • This is due to stress for one reason or another. It may be another cat or it may be a person in the house or you are away too much for too long (separation anxiety). Your cat is marking territory, particularly territory that belongs to the humans of the house to restate his/her claim to it and to feel more comfortable. Marking territory with urine or feces reassures a cat because it smells of them.

      Be around more, check for causes of stress. Plenty of play, cuddles, calm and routine plus all the things cats like should fix it. Be honest about what might be causing anxiety and stress in your cat.

  • Yes. It does sound bogus, but for the sake of it being real, is it possible that the cat when the child was still drinking milk from a bottle or nursing, and the baby would throw up...the cat would smell it and lick it up, thus still looking after this conditioning to do this? The child has been weened, and is now old enough to use his limbs with dexterity to push the cat away???

    I know nothing. :_

  • Heh. Just to add my vote. Before reading the comments I thought "This sounds bogus". Evidently others agree.

  • I don't believe any of this, a cat wouldn't go up to a child who kept pushing her away, she'd avoid the child.
    Stress can cause cats to vomit, it's more likely the child is going up to the cat and pestering her when she's eating or shortly after and the poor cat hasn't chance to digest her food.
    It seems to me an attention seeking question, maybe the carer wants an excuse to get rid of the cat.

  • Frankly I find it hard to believe this story of a cat puking on a child like pressing a button. I think the details of this are mangled and modified for some reason. If this is really what happens then simply teach the child not to push the cat away or keep the child and cat apart.

  • I observed one cat hack up a hairball onto another cat at The Cat Network. The cats were both on the cat tree by the window. The cat on the higher perch started retching and pretty soon, well, you get the picture. The volunteer at the shelter said she's seen that happen before.

    It's sort of like how Monty will puke up a hairball on the carpet when the tile floor of the kitchen is an inch away. Or he'll do it six inches from his litter box. My husband asks why Monty can't be trained to puke on places other than the carpet. He doesn't poop and pee on the carpet. I just don't think it is possible. I don't think cats think about it that way. When something has to be regurgitated it just needs to come up and it's coming up and that's all there is to it, and they don't really think about where they are doing it.

    To punish a cat for puking is abuse. Cats throw up. Cats throw up wherever and whenever. I agree, if it's happening a lot, a vet should be consulted.

    • To PUNISH a Cat, whether a Tiger or a domestic, is totally uncalled for. The only conditioning that we respond to is positive reinforcement. why should we expect anything less...from a cat.

    • Great. Thanks for your input Ruth. Appreciated. Bottom line this is a cat who throws up from time to time. It may nothing important, and there again, it may be a health matter. A vet will sort that out.

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