The only thing that cat owners need to know about cat vomiting

A lot of cat owners go online to find out why their cat is vomiting. I can tell because there are hundreds of thousands of articles about it designed to be read by cat owners. The online DIY vet market is vast. Cat guardians need to be cautious though because these are complicated topics.

Cat vomiting
Cat about to vomit. Credit: Two crazy cat ladies website.
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The problem is that cat vomiting is normally too complicated to diagnose online by a cat owner and it should not be attempted unless, and this is the important bit and the only thing that cat owners need to know about cat vomiting, “if a cat vomits once or twice but appears perfectly normal before and after, the problem is not serious and can be treated at home.1

So, you can treat cat vomiting at home only if your cat vomits once or twice but appears perfectly normal otherwise. Domestic cats are good vomiters. They are expert at it! For instance, a cat might vomit after eating dry cat food and I have discussed this in an earlier article or to throw up a hairball and grass.

I could stop there really because that’s the advice but I will add a little more and say the following:

“Vomiting unrelated to eating is frequently a sign of an infectious disease, kidney or liver disease, or a central nervous system disorder”.2

You can see that the cause can be very serious. There’s a long list of potential reasons why a cat might vomit and the only way forward is a proper diagnosis by a veterinarian. Let’s remind ourselves that vomiting is a symptom. In fact, it can be a very common non-specific symptoms of an illness.

Vomiting kicks off with the stimulation of the vomiting centre in the cat’s brain. Receptors in the cat’s digestive tract and elsewhere send signals to the brain. When the cat receives the signals, she might appear anxious and seek reassurance. There is a simultaneous contraction of the stomach muscles and the abdominal wall. There is an intra-abdominal increase in pressure and, simultaneously, a relaxing of the lower oesophageal sphincter (the circular muscle immediately above the top end of the stomach). The contents of the cat’s stomach goes up the oesophagus and out of the mouth. The cat will extend her neck and make a harsh gaming sound which is all too familiar to us.

1. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 3rd ed. at page 267.

2. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 3rd ed. at page 267 and 268.

Note: I have written pages on cat vomiting and the causes but I disagree with this now as it encourages cat owner diagnosis which can be a bad decision with respect to a cat’s health and welfare.

1 thought on “The only thing that cat owners need to know about cat vomiting”

  1. Yeah, it can be merely a symptom of a multitude of very serious and complex medical conditions. I wonder how vet feel about DIY pet owners… though I have a lot of experience with many of my own cats’ illnesses, my effort to help the vet diagnose what may be wrong by looking stuff up online sometimes doesn’t help at all. It does help me understand more, but the best thing one can do is keep track of everything your cat does and report it to the vet. Make notations.

    I put up a big white board in my kitchen to keep track of things they do that might turn out to be symptomatic, and when I give them their medicines.


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