The answer to the question depends upon whether your cat is regurgitating or vomiting and the kind of vomiting which is taking place. Regurgitation needs to be differentiated from vomiting so we can get that out of the way first. This topic is veterinarian’s work but cat caregivers need to have some knowledge about vomiting because it happens quite a lot and cats vomit more easily than most other animals. Sometimes it is innocuous and can be more or less ignored except for cleaning up the mess on the floor! Under these circumstances a cat will often feed after vomiting.
Note: this page is deliberately limited as I am not a veterinarian but I hope it points readers in the right direction. I am a good researcher and have a lot of cat caregiving experience and knowledge.
This is the “relatively effortless expulsion of undigested food without retching”. The quote comes from a book written four veterinarians. Regurgitation occurs because the oesophagus is physically blocked or perhaps the swallowing mechanism has broken down. The food remains in the oesophagus which becomes overloaded and then the food is expelled. If regurgitation is chronic, it indicates a partial obstruction. This would be veterinarian’s work.
Like many other cat caregivers I’ve seen my cat vomit, perhaps to expel a hairball or expel the remains of a mouse that he has just eaten. Quite quickly he will recover and be ready to eat.
Sometimes a cat might vomit undigested food immediately after eating and then restart eating, which indicates that sometimes vomiting is nothing to be worried about and you can feed your cat after vomiting. It depends on the kind of vomiting – see below.
When my cat vomits he will cry out just before he does so. I then push him off the bed if he is on it and he can then vomit on the hard floor. It’s a little warning. It is a special kind of cry indicating a feeling of distress.
Diagnose the type of vomiting
The key in answering the question in the title as to whether you should give your cat food after vomiting is in diagnosing the type of vomiting which gives you a clue as to the causes of the vomiting. Knowing the cause, you can then decide whether you should give your cat food after vomiting or seek urgent vet care.
Hairball or grass?
So, for example, the most common cause of vomiting is swallowing hair or eating grass. Sometimes eating grass, which is normal for domestic cats, can irritate the stomach and the cat vomits partially digested grass. That is all well and good and nothing to concern the owner other than clearing up the mess.
Eating too fast
Another benign cause is overeating or eating too fast. Sometimes kittens gobble their food and exercise immediately afterwards which causes them to vomit.
Sometimes kittens might eat too fast if they are feeding from the same bowl. There might be an element of competition which causes them to eat faster. This may lead to vomiting. Separating the kittens or feeding smaller meals can eliminate the problem.
Healthy before and after?
In general, if a cat vomits once or twice but is perfectly healthy before vomiting and after vomiting it is likely that the problem is not serious and can be treated at home or no treatment is needed. There is nothing for the caregiver to do and feeding can continue.
Vomiting without eating and not a hairball
If your cat vomits without any eating beforehand this, to me, indicates an underlying illness which needs to be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. And feeding should not take place after vomiting. It might be an infectious disease or a kidney or liver disease. Your cat might be suffering from a central nervous system disorder. Feline panleukopenia is often associated with vomiting. As is tonsillitis, inflammatory bowel disease and a sore throat. Peritonitis is a serious cause of vomiting requiring immediate veterinary care.
Of course, poison is going to cause vomiting. This would be a case of urgent veterinary care. Under this scenario, you should not feed your cat after vomiting. They won’t want to feed anyway. A common poison is antifreeze as you may know which has been put down by a cat hater. It kills cats by destroying kidney function.
How and when
How and when your cat vomits indicates what to do next. Is it repeated, sporadic or persistent? How soon after eating does it occur? Is there blood in the vomit or faecal material or perhaps a foreign object?
Answering the question
The point is that I don’t think that there is a straightforward answer to the question in the title. It’s going to take some knowledge and skill to understand the underlying cause of the vomiting which then leads you to decide what to do next and whether you can feed your cat.
I have a page on the type of vomiting a cat might engage in and the possible underlying cause which comes from an excellent reference book that I use frequently. It is a book designed for home use. Click the link below for this page:
Limits of knowledge
A key point in discussing medical matters concerning the domestic cat is that cat owners should know the limits of their knowledge and what they can do not go beyond those limits but seek veterinary advice and treatment.
Some more on vomiting:
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.